United States

HOLY LISTENING: CREATING NEW PRACTICES OF MISSION BY EXTENDING PASTORAL CARE BEYOND THE WALLS OF THE CHURCH

Author
Caitlin Thomas Deyerle D.Min.
Abstract
With a goal of developing a new practice of mission to address the disconnect between a congregation and its surrounding community and engage the historical and ongoing limitations of mission practices, this project sought to engage the skills of pastoral care to create a relational focused practice of holy listening. A five-week Lenten Listening program was developed to cultivate this practice and use it to create a deeper partnership with local educators. The evaluation methods used were a survey of the congregational participants before and after the program, and in-person interviews with the educators following the program. The project addresses racial and socioeconomic differences between church and community as a primary barrier to mission partnership.

Preaching in the Midst of Appointive Change in the United Methodist Church

Author
Scott Eugene Carnes D.Min.
Abstract
The special requirements of preaching during appointive change has long been overlooked with few resources available to provide much-needed assistance. The work required for effective preaching during appointive change has critical elements that are difficult to navigate without an existing pastoral relationship with the congregation and community. This thesis describes a process that incorporates specific and direct attention to elements of change and vulnerability. It offers methods and models for enabling effective preaching during appointive change through deep connection between the congregation and the preacher. This process offers a plan for healthy pastoral transition and contextualized preaching from a place of vulnerability.

EVALUATION OF A TEACHER TRAINING WORKSHOP FOR BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW EDUCATION AND TRANSFORMATION

Author
Rhonda Kaye Kamakawiwoole D.Ed.Min.
Abstract
Given the world’s plurality of worldviews, transformation to the biblical worldview—God’s understanding of reality—remains the paramount task of Christian parents and the church in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Christian parents are to impress God's commands on their children so the next generation might come to know, love, and serve Him (Deut 6:6-7). Jesus charges the church to make disciples, baptize, and teach others to obey his commands (Matt 28:19-20), yet, spiritual formation is not the target it should be for most Christian families and the American church. The literature reveals a general lack in understanding of the biblical worldview in Christians across generations, and thus, believers lack confidence and motivation to share God’s worldview with others.
This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a workshop designed to address transformation in the comprehension, commitment, and intended conduct of participants to train others to the biblical worldview. Statistical analysis revealed participants changed in understanding, confidence, and motivation toward engaging in further growth to the biblical worldview and training others to it. Anecdotal information gathered from comments on the post-training survey provided additional evidence of the above, as well as qualitative evidence demonstrating participants changed in their commitment to share God’s truth with others and planned for future change in this “commissioned” area for Christ.
The workshop effectively addressed the lack of intentionality about growing in and sharing the biblical worldview with others. The study showed adult Christians of all ages are more likely to engage in sharing the biblical worldview with others once they better understand the distinctives of the biblical worldview, gain confidence in their knowledge and abilities and are motivated to share it, and are equipped with models for training others to the biblical worldview.

Preaching Beyond the Hedges: A Psycho-Social and Spiritual Exegesis of University Students as a Resource for the Campus Preacher

Author
RAYMOND C COOK D.Min.
Abstract
Community exegesis is gaining interest among preachers as a means to communicate the Word of God to a particular group, time, and location. The work of Lenora Tubbs Tisdale and her study of communal exegesis marks a significant influence on this interest. The Second Vatican Council also calls upon the preacher to utilize language to tailor the Word of God for the listener. Relying on the study of social location and combining that effort with psychological, social, and spiritual disciplines, preachers engage concepts that aid in the exegesis of today’s university students. This study demonstrates that exegeting the Scriptures and the community is beneficial to the psycho-spiritual cognitive development of students.
This thesis examines disciplines that equip preachers to exegete the university student community, thereby contributing to a better preaching event. To that end, the first chapter describes the importance of studying the historical and observable social location in which the students are living. The second chapter treats psychological stage development and current struggles that today’s undergraduates are experiencing. The third chapter considers two specific research methods and ways that preachers might implement them. These research methods uncover the language of university students, as reflected in conversations with focus groups. The fourth chapter examines the fruits of Emmaus Walks that lead towards Paschal Preaching, and the witness that university students give when preaching moves into action. The preacher also calls to mind the role of the Holy Spirit in creating a preaching event. The conclusion highlights the benefits of this thesis as an exegetical resource, suggesting that preachers can preach more effectively to students on their campuses by gaining knowledge of the social location, updating their understanding of proposed theories of psychological stage development, using a variety of research methods, and intentionally journeying with the students.

A Biblical Examination of an Ontological reading of Theology, in Trinity, in the [Christian] Believer and in Church

Author
Erwin Samuel Henderson Dr Ph.D.
Abstract
Ontological theology considered in some theological works, was given little significance as a primary theme. The thesis attempts to restore prominence and cohesion of an ontological construct, whereby function and structure, are the subordinate product defined by the ontological theological perspective. The effects are far reaching for theological definitions of the essential nature of the Trinity, the believer and the church; representing a paradigmatic shift in theological understanding, affecting profoundly the nature existential Christocentric Christianity.
The ontological theology of Trinity contrasts with the relational subordination, authority-submission proponents and opponents, in substance, in relationship and in function. The recovery of apostolicity as an ontological attribute of Godhead provides significant insight and cohesion to the ontological Trinitarian proposal.
The effects upon the believer ontologically are contrasted with the religious disposition and the positional judicial approach to salvation. The prototypical shift occurs in the Person of Jesus-Christ to an existential reality originated in Trinity and replicated ontologically in the believer. The nature of humankind is thereby reinterpreted giving definition to the “spiritual man” as the sole form of legitimate existence that is biblically normalized and warranted.
The ontological primacy provides an alternate construct to the historical structural understanding of church that has not changed since the early patristic period. The proposal emerging from this exegesis is a model of church: ontological and apostolic, originated, [re]sourced, and incarnate from the nature of Trinity, demonstrating undeniably that it is impossible for the Church of divine intent to exist outside of the three persons of the Godhead. Christo-centricity restores Church to the origin, source and 'telos'. Present day observations may exemplify distanciation of contemporary expressions of church from ontological definitions. A return to source represents a theological and ecclesiastic field of renewal to perpetuate in the coming years.

The Impact of Preaching on Church Growth: Black Churches in The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church

Author
Yvette Denise Massey D.Min.
Abstract
This project addresses the question of whether good preaching can cause congregational growth. The location of the work was two Black churches in the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church and included preaching a variety of sermons, followed by congregational research on the influence of the sermons on church growth. Through this project, the thesis on which this work was based, that church growth was a direct result of good preaching, changed to recognize that while preaching alone does not cause church growth, it is one of many significant factors in the decision to join a church. The project reveals that a comprehensive church system that includes elements such as preaching, outreach, nurture, Christian education, evangelism, and worship, is necessary to impact congregational growth.

Impact of Spiritual Counseling for African American Young Adults with Sickle Cell Disease

Author
R. Lorraine Brown D.Min.
Abstract
The author researched how African Americans, age 18-28, who received care for sickle cell disease (SCD), were impacted by intentional sharing of clinic-based spiritual counseling. This spiritual intervention addressed the often unspoken concerns of this population. Understanding spirituality, while managing the many facets of SCD, is vital for holistic health. Participants found themselves at critical junctures in their spiritual development - seeking, exploring, even questioning - how spirituality plays a role in their overall well-being. The project collected both qualitative and quantitative data through a chaplain interventionist. The chaplain met 1:1 with participants to share strategies for increasing everyday coping and self-efficacy. The participants found spiritual care to be necessary and helpful as they navigated their daily lives and sickle cell disease. The author came to realize to truly be effective, an in-depth longitudinal study is needed for true impact.

Lives Aglow: A Study of the Vocational Lives and Testimonies of Congregational Leaders at First United Methodist Church

Author
William Cato D.Min.
Abstract
This project addressed a lack of opportunities for Christian vocational discernment at First United Methodist Church in Arkadelphia, Arkansas (FUMCA). The research question asked what effect, if any, the public speech of leaders would have on the vocational self-understanding of congregants. The hypothesis postulated that the public testimonies of congregational leaders, coupled with a sermon series, would produce an increase in the percentage of congregants who identify as called to participate in God’s redemptive work. While the hypothesis could not be substantiated, the project produced vocational agitation among congregants. Results indicated the need for follow-up measures to sustain lasting change.

Towards a Holistic Education: Forging Integrative Approaches between Campus Ministers and Theology Faculty at Catholic Universities

Author
Rachelle M. Kramer D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project explores to what extent a synergy could be created between campus ministers and theology professors at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities that might contribute to a more holistic development (spiritual, moral, intellectual) of their students. The project overall seeks to learn how a holistic education can best be understood in Catholic higher education today as well as the factors that foster and hinder it. The experience of campus ministers and theology faculty, emerging adult theory, the Catholic Tradition, and integrative learning theory serve as dialogue partners in order to unearth new insights and concrete actions for the future.

Visio Divina: In Light of the USCCB Curriculum Framework

Author
Eileen B Maggiore D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis-project involved working with eleven high school seniors from two schools while applying visual ethnographic research. The research method for ministry is attributed to Evelyn and James Whitehead’s attending, asserting, and responding. The study addresses three Catholic traditions-- the USCCB's Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age, emerging disciples, and Lectio-Visio Divina -- juxtaposed to learning styles and postmodern American teens who attend two Chicagoland area Catholic high schools. The students were asked about their social media usage, teaching preferences and definition of a disciple. The interviewed students elicited a visual image, upon request, which represents discipleship and through the process of lamination described their image. The students spoke to their preferences of teaching styles along with how they would teach younger students. Students conversed about the time when they most felt like a disciple.
The interviewed students exhibited transformative learning after generating visual images from their personal mobile phones. The interviewees’ definition of a disciple became more elaborate as they progressed with the visual ethnographic discussion. The initial feedback to discipleship prompted an intellectual answer and through lamination their response became more personal. The students utilized generative learning to create a thick description of their previous knowledge about discipleship.
The students’ desire is to have their lessons taught with visuals and other supportive techniques, including time to assess new epistemologies. These findings suggest that the students are interested in a more embodied teaching experience which could promote teens into becoming emerging disciples. Transformative learning tools are found not to oppose, but rather complement the USCCB's Framework. It is suggested that the Gospel Visual Creation or to Pray the Lesson are teaching techniques which could assist in the formation of disciples among Catholic high school students.
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