Bible--New Testament

EXPLORING AND ADDRESSING THE INFLUENCE OF LOCAL AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION
ON SOUTH AFRICAN CHURCHES

Author
Tim Graham D.Min.
Abstract
This project seeks an understanding of issues related to African Traditional Religion (ATR) that bear upon the churches of the pastors attending a biannual conference on preparing exegetical sermons and to develop a theological statement to be used to discourage ATR from further infiltrating the local churches represented at the conference. The pastors, mostly from South Africa, participated in a Delphi research process that promoted individual input about each person’s encounter with ATR issues in the first round. This input was reviewed and prioritized by the participants in the second two rounds identifying the five most significant challenges of ATR to their local churches. The study concluded with a roundtable discussion intending to address the influence of ATR and whether a theological statement would be helpful in that endeavor. Because the environment being addressed was a pastors’ conference on exegesis, the goal was to influence the preaching of these pastors in a way that would address the influence of ATR. This final project goal found a low level of support and met with some resistance.

Encouragement for the small church: Equipping rectors for fruitfulness in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney

Author
Stephen Anderson D.Min.
Abstract
Of itself, church smallness is neither an anomaly, a mistake, nor a virtue. In God’s providence and design, small is normal, and may in fact bring significant strengths. However, no prior research has investigated the distinctive dynamics and challenges faced by rectors of smaller parishes in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, and despite extensive training pathways there is very little leadership development that focuses specifically upon the small church. This mixed-methods research project integrates theological and sociological insights and discoveries in order to equip and encourage these servants of Christ to persevere in fruitful ministry over the long term.

This dissertation presents a complete biblical theology of fruitfulness. Coupling this to the “Robinson-Knox” ecclesiology imbibed by nearly all Sydney Anglican rectors, a “purpose-of-churching” scale is derived to help stimulate theologically consistent models of ministry. At the heart of this project, the Nominal Group Technique is used to generate a list of the Top 7 challenges encountered by a pool of experienced small-church rectors. In light of this robust list along with critical insights from the secondary literature, four follow-up interviews are conducted on location.

This pilot research project includes major findings in three key areas. The full, biblical definition of ministry fruitfulness protects and encourages the small-church pastor, especially when tied to the proper purposes of churching. A perceptive analysis of typical small-church culture arising from the secondary literature equips the rector to lead in ways indigenous to actual church size. At the heart, the Top 7 list of small-church challenges renders a “thick” diagnosis widely applicable by such rectors to their ministry settings. As this project concludes, a fresh, rigorous, semi-linear coaching framework for emerging and established rectors serving in small Anglican parishes is proposed for initial implementation.

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.

Hollering Theology: Exploring liberation theology in Central Appalachia and its power to transform students at the University of Pikeville

Author
Robert Dale Musick D.Min.
Abstract
Central Appalachia is a complex and beautiful region that has been historically mislabeled, misrepresented, and shamed as the land of hillbillies. Suffering in this region is deep and broad as poverty, addiction, and disparities are statistically evident. Although the region is filled with churches, missionary endeavors, and government programs, places like Eastern Kentucky continue to struggle. As the Church seeks to address these diseases of despair, it is imperative for Christian universities to address this suffering through critical pedagogy and a contextualized theology. By the development of an Appalachian liberation theology known as hollering theology, this research project took this new theology and imbedded it in two different college classes at the University of Pikeville. Through this project, it was discovered that the fundamental source of oppression in Central Appalachia is the damning stereotype of the hillbilly. This stereotype has been internalized and is now killing Appalachian Americans. In this study, hollering theology will be offered as a way to challenge the stereotype, give a new vision for God’s work in the region, and make known a hillbilly Christ, which seeks to empower students at UPIKE to engage themselves and their community in a critical and engaged way.

Recovering From and Rejoicing in Fundamentalism: Insights From Former Fundamentalists and the Pastors Who Shepherd Them

Author
Eric Alan Vander Ploeg D.Min.
Abstract
Christian fundamentalism played a key role in protecting the gospel from liberal decay in
American history. Its leaders built a high wall of separation around the fundamentals of the faith
to protect them from the innovations of modernism. The wall kept cultural threats out, but it also
kept a particular era of Christian culture in. While America later experienced the most rapid
cultural upheavals in its history, fundamentalism remained largely unchanged within its walls,
and the cultural chasm grew wider and wider. Some of the children of fundamentalism have now
left these walls and are in search of something new.

This project seeks to help these “travelers” on their journey. Twenty focus groups with
self-identified “recovering fundamentalists” identified several patterns of personal pain along
with lessons learned that could benefit others. Nine interviews with experienced pastors yielded
best practices in shepherding travelers as they enter evangelical churches. These results were
collated to produce four key findings:

1. Living with the disapproval and disappointment of fundamentalist parents after
transitioning.
2. Learning how to trust authority (of leaders and of the Bible) after being told to “just
trust” and not ask questions.
3. Moving from a model of sanctification that is guilt-based to one that is grace-based.
4. Learning how to rejoice in the fundamentalism of one’s youth and to see God’s
kindness and glory amidst the errors of its proponents.

An Analysis of the Cultural and Leadership Differences Among Leaders in the Chinese Immigrant Church in America

Author
Ke-Chiang (Albert) Li D.Min.
Abstract
The author Ke-Chiang (Albert) Li saw that in the 21st century, globalization is impacting all industries and almost all aspects of our lives. Chinese immigrant churches in America, like most organizations, are facing many challenges. One of the biggest challenges is how to deal with cultural differences inside the church. The differences are not only between ABC (American Born Chinese) and OBC (Overseas Born Chinese), but also among OBC who come from different parts of China and all over the world. Chinese immigrant churches losing young people and failing to reach ABC have been known problems for more than the past twenty-five years. Most books and papers use old Chinese culture to describe OBC culture and American culture to describe ABC culture to analyze the problems and try to help people to know themselves and to know each other. This approach has helped some of the churches, but it has also caused some confusion and issues when people use this to stereotype the OBC and ABC leaders in the church.

This project used a survey to investigate the cultural and leadership differences among leaders in the Chinese immigrant church in America. The result clearly shows that it is a mistake and will cause confusion when we stereotype ABC is American culture and OBC is Chinese culture. It is mixed up. Each individual have their own even in their same age group.

The author sincerely hopes that through Biblical truth and information from social science, the suggestions in this project report can contribute to finding successful ways to lead across cultures in the Chinese immigrant church in America and help develop Christian leaders capable of leading across cultures in the church and in the world.

Peace Upon Our Troubled World: A Reflection on Jesus' Post Resurrection Visits in John 20:19-31

Author
CANICE CHUKWUEMEKA NJOKU FR M.A.
Abstract
In a world where both the interior and exterior peace of its inhabitants is under constant threat by one form of chaos or the other, is there any hope for lasting peace? This reflection explores the impact of Jesus' gift of peace to his disciples during his post-resurrection visits in John 20:19-31. Importantly, it carefully evaluates the relevance of this visit to all living in today's challenging and chaotic world.

This work reveals that peace is a gift from God and that Jesus' salutation ("Peace be with you"), which communicates much peace and liberates every troubled soul, is still very much re-echoed to all today. Hence, it is still relevant for the continued restoration and sustenance of peace in both the individual and our entire world.

Faith and humility are prerequisites for receiving the peace that Christ offers. Also, the Holy Spirit is a principal-agent in humankind's search for lasting peace, and peace is not primarily a characteristic of happenings in the world but also a human attitude and a characteristic of all who have received it.

The title of this little book speaks for itself. The peace that Christ offers is still very much needed in every soul and in our world at large. It is what our world lacks and needs most today, and this is what I present to you in this little book.

A CURRICULUM ON THE GENEALOGY OF MATTHEW

Author
Sha (Simona) Zeng D.Min.
Abstract
Genealogies have been one of the least studied literary forms in biblical scholarship over the years. This major project designs a seminary curriculum on the genealogy of Matthew and contends that Matthew’s Gospel, a synoptic and historical record similar to Chronicles, closely follows the Chronicler’s ideology and methodology. Thus, Matthew’s genealogy is purposefully devised to contain breaks (which I define as every insertion and deviation beyond the normal pattern of father begat son in the genealogy). These breaks highlight the numerical discrepancy of generations which are based on the pattern and concept of Chronicles are used to convey the unique Matthean message, and also function as an introduction to the whole book, just as the genealogies in Chronicles. The interpretations of the breaks and the numerical discrepancy of generations show a Christ-centered, suffering theology-based yet hope filled, and incarnation-powered life for Christians as well as an inclusive mindset, marginal-esteemed mentality, retribution-saturated, and cultic-oriented ministry for churches in addition to an influential-exerted leadership.

This project does more than teach the genealogy per se; instead, it explains the canonical priority of Matthew in the New Testament, enhances the knowledge of canonical reading of Scripture through studying the relationship between Chronicles and Matthew, demonstrates connections between the Old Testament and New Testament, contributes appreciation for often ignored portions of Scripture, identifies synoptic relationships in different parts of the Bible, teaches a way of interpreting the synoptic texts, strengthens the ability to read the biblical text, provides the transformational applications for Christian life and church ministry from the interpretations, includes the suggestions of improving the curriculum through multiple evaluation instruments, and provides plans for future teaching ministry. Moreover, lessons learned throughout the execution of the project will hopefully increase my own pedagogical effectiveness in general.

“FAITHFUL TO HIS PROMISES”: GOD’S CALLING OF STARRY HASMATALI AS AN HISTORIC INDO-TRINIDADIAN MEMBER OF THE CHURCH OF GOD IN TRINIDAD AND CANADA

Author
Duane Sterling Sims M.A.
Abstract
This paper is concerned with the case story of Starry Hasmatali, who was raised in Trinidad and immigrated to Canada: first to Toronto and then to Moose Jaw. I have decided to interview her in particular, because she was an integral member of an historic Indo-Pentecostal family in the Church of God (Cleveland TN), in Trinidad. With her late husband, Edward D. Hasmatali, they brought the Church of God (CoG) to the island, and were deeply involved in leadership training and church planting.

Indo-Trinidadian Pentecostalism seems to be somewhat of an overlooked area of academic study, thus in interviewing Starry, I will seek to uncover their experiences in ministry in Trinidad and Canada, particularly in relation to their historic connection to the Church of God. I have also chosen to concentrate upon Indo- Trinidadian Pentecostals, since they comprise a significant section of the population of that country.

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.
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