Bible--Acts

Perfect Love Casts out Fear: Exploring the Effectiveness of a Person-Centered Disability Awareness Seminar in a Congregational Setting

Author
Joshua H Jones D.Min.
Abstract
People with disabilities and their families frequently experience barriers toward inclusion and belonging in multiple spheres of life. These barriers are also present in Christian congregations. However, many congregations express a godly desire to love people with disabilities and their families without these obstacles.

The Old and New Testaments provide examples of how God’s people sought to love people with disabilities in their midst creatively and intentionally in response to God’s gracious actions, invitation, and command. Recent research in disability studies routinely highlight the necessity of being attentive to the uniqueness of each person with disabilities and his or her family. Recent work in the realm of sanctification also encourages Christians to practice active righteousness and vocation with an emphasis upon loving specific neighbors.

In light of current research, this project attempted to better understand the effects of a person-centered disability awareness seminar about the pastor’s own child in a single congregation using a mixed methods approach. A pretest posttest design was used in the quantitative phase of the research utilizing the Multidimensional Attitudes Scale Toward Persons with Disabilities (MAS) to measure attitudes (N = 42). A focus group was used in the qualitative phase of research (N = 7). Results suggest a person-centered disability awareness seminar can be an effective way to improve attitudes and relational engagement in a congregational setting.

HOW EVANGELICAL CHURCHES IN THE CHICAGO METRO AREA ARE ENGAGING MUSLIM COMMUNITIES

Author
Michael Urton D.Min.
Abstract
This project examined how local evangelical churches in the Chicago Metro area are engaging local Muslim communities. It asked a main research question along with two additional questions to frame the study. The main research question was how are specific local evangelical churches in the Chicago Metro area engaging local Muslim communities? The two additional questions were used to answer the main research question in a more precise manner. The first one was what are some of the challenges that these local churches encountered when engaging Muslims? The second was what lessons can be learned from the experiences of these congregations when mobilizing churches to engage Muslims?

This study began by stating the problem of attitudes towards Muslims in the West with special focus on evangelical Christians in the United States. It then discussed the important role that evangelical churches in the United States have in engaging the Muslim community.

A theological/biblical basis along with a philosophical foundation from a review of precedent literature supported this project. This foundation can assist evangelical Christians in knowing the lengths they can go in their engagement with Muslims, as well as realizing the distinctives that they must maintain.

Data collections were conducted for this study to explore the research questions. These included twenty-one semi-structured qualitative interviews with people at seven different churches, participant observations of events that these churches did with Muslims, and a collection of documentary evidence. The data from this study was organized into findings and suggestions were made for how they can be implemented by churches in their interactions with Muslim communities.

FOSTERING A CULTURE OF EVANGELISM AT GRACE COMMUNITY CHURCH THAT AFFECTS CONVERSION GROWTH

Author
Philip Schenck D.Min.
Abstract
There are high expectations that a church plant grow by seeing people come to faith in Christ. Such seems to be the expectation placed upon every church plant, as evidenced in literature and conferences and denominational leaders. Experience has not born out what the church anticipated in terms of multiple and regular conversion growth. Academic research, interviews, surveys and focus groups were utilized to understand evangelism and outreach as a whole and as it pertains to the local church that was the focus of this project. Attempt has been made to determine and suggest a response or series of responses that might aid the church in its evangelistic effectiveness. Church members indicated a desire to see the church grow by conversion, but raised concerns about individual preparedness, the need for training, and overcoming fear. Community members raised questions and shared expectations of local churches and church leadership. An overall need for pastoral leadership in the area of evangelism was highlighted. The strategic plan for evangelism and outreach seeks to address the areas of concern and focus that came to light as a result of the research and study, the surveys and interviews undertaken, and conversations with members of church leadership. Is has sought to address needs represented and stated by church and community, leaves opportunity for further study and innovation and invites the involvement of every ministry team and every individual in the church.

CREATING A LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY TO ALIGN AND EQUIP LEADERS AT GRACE LUTHERAN MINISTRIES

Author
Joel Howard D.Min.
Abstract
Grace Lutheran Ministries in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, strives to affect both its congregation and community through ministry. As ministry grows, it is essential for Grace to implement a strategy for developing leaders and deploying them into ministry. This major project focused on the essential nature, culture, and strategies for empowering leaders from not just the paid staff but from among all of God’s people and then developing them in areas of character and competency. The project also focused on the importance of alignment in the leadership development process.

The project utilized three research methods. First, a Biblical, theological, and literary study of leadership development was done in the areas of character, competency, and alignment. Second, questionnaires and a focus group were used to understand the current view of leadership development and alignment among Grace’s leaders. Third, the nominal group technique was utilized to brainstorm key ideas and strategies for the leadership development strategy.

A strategic plan was developed that began with creating a leadership culture around the unified use of language through leadership principles. Then, four strategic goals were created to develop, deploy, and debrief leaders at Grace through the use of small groups, coaching, and large group settings. Finally, the effectiveness of the leadership principles and strategic goals were evaluated by Grace’s senior staff through a SWOT analysis.

A Pastoral Approach to Preaching Difficult Texts

Author
Brian James Lays D.Min.
Abstract
This project proposes that preaching difficult texts with pastoral sensitivity can produce edifying sermons, proving useful certain texts of the Bible which have been excluded from the lectionary and thereby written off as irrelevant or even harmful to the Church. Six challenging biblical texts, from Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, Isaiah, Matthew, and Acts, none of which appear in the Revised Common Lectionary, are presented to a focus group for study and feedback. Utilizing data from the focus group, a sermon will be prepared from each text, and the focus group will evaluate whether or not each sermon proved the challenging biblical text useful.

A Multiple Case Study: Participative Decision-Making in Four Black Indiana Churches

Author
Michael S. Johnson D.Min.
Abstract
This research study looked at factors in participative decision-making that would balance congregational polity and pastoral authority. A multiple-case study was conducted with four Black Baptist churches in central Indiana. Fifteen participants were interviewed across cases and organizational documents were analyzed. Four themes emerged from the study. They included effectiveness, unified involvement, decision parameters, and trusted leadership. Effectiveness related to support for a decision. Unified Involvement was about members’ sense of belonging. Parameters involved areas where certain groups had discretion in decision-making. Lastly, trusted leadership pertained to the calling of a pastor and the confidence members placed in that calling.

DESI CAMPUS MINISTRY: TRAINING MATERIALS FOR EQUIPPING STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS TO COACH LOCAL DESIGN MOVEMENT CHAPTERS

Author
Mark Covel D.Min.
Abstract
As part of the campus ministry of Cru, Design Movement seeks to come alongside the South Asian American college community. The purpose of this research was to gauge the effectiveness of specific training materials for equipping campus ministry workers for the ministry of Design Movement. To accomplish this, a newly written set of training materials were field tested, reviewed, and evaluated for effectiveness.

Design Movement uses a contextualized approach to ministry. It is a collegiate ministry seeking to come alongside the desi, or South Asian American, community. This community includes students who are Indian American, Pakistani American, Sri Lankan American, Bangladeshi American, Nepali American, Bhutanese American, and Maldivian American. Many of these American college students have a Hindu or Muslim background, while a smaller percentage of South Asian American students have a Christian background.

This major project arose from the need for more current and specific ministry training for staff and volunteers and resulted in the creation of the Design Movement Ambassador Training. The training is divided into four categories: “Learn about South Asian American Culture,” “Leverage Culture for Outreach,” “Launch and Grow a Design Movement,” and “Lead a Design Student Team.” Each category contains six modules for a total of twenty-four topics.

The study revealed that the training materials were successful in being able to equip campus ministers to effectively come alongside the desi community. The five Cru staff who participated in a focus group grew in their understanding about this contextualized ministry. The feedback from the five staff and four Consultants provided suggestions for minor improvements to the materials, including a few additional modules. Training materials specific to Design Movement proved helpful for meeting the needs of coaching students in Design Movement.

Indigenous African Demonic Deliverance and its Transference into Pentecostalism with Subsequent Refining: Ghana and its Diaspora as a Case Study

Author
Duane Sterling Sims M.A.
Abstract

This paper examines how the traditional Ghanaian worldview has been contextualized by grass-roots Christians in Ghana, and further by Ghanaian Pentecostals, and how this has been exported, adapted, and refined from Ghana across national and continental lines to its diaspora. I hope to address some key questions regarding Ghanaian deliverance practices (at home and abroad) and integrate my findings into ministry, whether to Africans or anyone. Some of these questions include: “What drives Ghanaians to seek deliverance? How have they, historically, sought to deal with the spirit realm? How do they currently seek to deal with it? What are some of the differences between a traditional Ghanaian understanding and that of a Ghanaian Pentecostal view?”

A Mentoring Program for Pastoral Interns at Calvary Baptist Church, Watertown, WI

Author
Robert Loggans D.Min.
Abstract
The rationale for this project emerged from a significant need to encourage, promote, develop and train young men preparing for pastoral ministry in the local church setting. While the college and seminary classroom experience is of great value, the practical application of such knowledge under the tutelage of an experienced pastor helps to complete the preliminary preparation for pastoral ministry.

God's call to pastoral ministry is unique and individualized; the call to serve is a call to prepare. The Apostle Paul invested much time in his young protégé Timothy. Paul eventually gave the following characterization of Timothy, "For I have no man likeminded, who will naturally care for your state." (Philippians 4:20KJV)

This project (1) states the purpose of investing in those preparing for pastoral ministry, (2) provides theological and Biblical rationale for internships, (3) looks at and considers contemporary literature on internships and mentoring, (4) explains the design and methodology used in the project, (5) develops a narrative of the course of the project, (6) And shares the outcomes and suggestions for intentional mentoring internships in the local church setting.

Several significant findings indicate that internships are vitally important in preparing for pastoral ministry. Those preparing for pastoral ministry often desire an experienced pastor to make a significant investment in their lives. I have found that many pastors deeply desire to share their life and ministry experiences with those who are younger. Mentoring takes time, flexibility and understanding as each individual preparing for pastoral ministry is special and unique. It is a delightful privilege and joy to have part in preparing students for ministry.

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.
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