Akintoye Jeremiah Akintunde Rev. D.Ed.Min.
People often disregard the fact that the spiritual state of mind is greatly affected by what is happening in the physical. At times, depression results from exhaustion, anxiety, worry, and many bottled-up issues in people’s lives. People are depressed because they are unfulfilled in their careers, marital life, education, and plans. Unconfessed sin and wickedness of hearts can be the root cause of some depressive moods. When daily challenges become overwhelming and frustrating, people are spiritually drained and discouraged. What is needed for any individual struggling with a depressive mood is the Word of God through biblical counseling. Biblical counselors offer a compassionate heart and practical help through the biblical principles applied to the counselee’s life and situation.
Christians (church members) are not immune from depression because it is real and can be overcome and conquered through reliance on the Holy Spirit and appropriate biblical principles. Biblical counselors should always keep in mind a holistic perspective of human nature. God created human beings holistically – body, spirit, and soul. When one part suffers, every other part suffers with it. Psychology, philosophy, and psychoanalysis (or psychotherapy) are human theories and philosophies that can only last for a short time. The Word of God (Scripture) is authentic, inspired, inerrant, sufficient, and authoritative for counseling tasks and is superior to anything the world’s wisdom offers. The Scripture has the power to change life and turn around situations.
Regardless of the latest scientific discovery, research, and methodology, medical professionals still believe, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), that ‘mental disorders’ including depression fall into such “diagnostic criteria” with a collection of symptoms known as syndromes. A syndrome is simply a collection of symptoms that a person is experiencing.

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

Eric Alan Vander Ploeg D.Min.
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
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.

Case Studies of Multiple Executive Staff Leadership in the Local Church

Matthew Clifton Gillum D.Min.
As the local church grows bigger, the need also arises to manage that growth
well. At the executive level of leadership in the church, the question of excellence in
leadership must be addressed. Some churches have chosen to pursue that excellence via
the means of multiple executive staff leadership in the church. This function looks like
multiple staff members who wield executive leadership ability with a direct report to the
Senior Pastor.

This dissertation examines cases of churches that utilize this structure of
multiple executive staff members. Multiple executive leadership in the local church can
be effective when these following four factors are in place: a commitment to the church’s
vision and senior leadership, clearly defined roles in the ministry team, strategic hiring of
personnel, and flexibility of administration. These four factors were present in all of the
multiple executive staff teams interviewed. While the structure is not a one-size fits all
approach, it can be a helpful way of managing and continuing growth in the local church.

Authority of Scripture in Today's PC(USA)

Peter David Jones D.Min.
For this project, a small group of dedicated adults studied the Authority of Scripture using historical, theological, confessional, and experiential methods seeking to better understand scriptural interpretation and application to daily life. Of specific interest, the group ended with a case study of scriptural approaches to the topic of homosexuality, seeking to understand how biblical interpretation affects daily life.

Below is an excerpt from the project report:
"Too often, clergy treat some information gathered in seminary as secret knowledge reserved for those deemed worthy enough to obtain it. This must emerge from either too high an opinion of oneself, too low an opinion of congregants, or an addiction to the power of knowledge, but the end result has been a highly educated clergy speaking to relatively ignorant congregants. This, of course, is no indictment of congregants, but rather a commentary on the ineffectiveness of clergy in appropriately and clearly providing people with the tools necessary to grow in their faith; to grow beyond the children’s sermon understanding of the Bible itself. This project is one example of ways in which the clergy can engage with congregants on a more level playing field, trusting in their abilities and Spiritual maturity to guide the process of learning. I have often heard it said that people enter seminary with strong faith, have their faith shaken, then emerge even stronger than when they entered. Why do we not believe that congregants can and should follow that same pattern in their faith journeys?"

Youth Ministry Planning Tool for Smaller Churches

Nathan Opsata D.Min.
This major project created a step-by-step process to help youth ministry leaders plan their youth ministry year. The planning tool was especially designed to guide volunteer-led teams of smaller churches through the planning process in a systematic and complete way by recognizing the strengths and limitations of smaller churches and volunteer leaders. The main deliverables of the step-by-step planning process were to evaluate existing programming, divide the leadership team according to gifting, and to develop a set of guiding documents, including a directory, programming calendar, weekly template with job descriptions, and teaching schedule.

Five smaller evangelical churches were given the tool prior to planning their programming. Interviewing leaders from these youth ministry teams revealed that the tool was helpful in each church, especially for evaluating the success of programming objectives and generating ideas of changes to make. However, the step-by-step process did not allow teams to easily select which components they wished to use and was difficult to adapt for solo-led youth ministries. Furthermore, some ministries and leaders resisted implementing the systems-approach, especially formal job descriptions, in their smaller, family-style ministries.

Encountering God’s Healing Through Holistic Spiritual Formation

Caleb Aaron Smith D.Min.
This portfolio begins by way of a spiritual autobiography to explore how the Lord has introduced me to different kinds of beauty, in an effort to bring about transformative beauty in my own life. These include the beauty of nature, as I grew up in New Zealand; the beauty of people that I worked or worshiped with in South Africa; but also, the unexpected beauty of pain and struggle, that I experienced in Chicago IL. In each of these places, I find the Lord forming and shaping me, but also bringing healing, for the fear and anxiety which I had experienced for much of my life.
The next chapter in the format of a spiritual formation manual, then explores five dimensions of spiritual formation and healing and is geared especially for believers who similarly struggle with anxiety. Paul identifies three of these dimensions in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, where he refers to the “sanctification of body, soul and spirit.” The dimensions of community (or the social dimension) and further, nature or God’s creation are also explored.
My final chapter, by way of a field research report, then places further emphasis on the dimension of nature, through a spiritual practice called Scripture and Nature Immersion (SNI). Following my research, I suggest that SNI can assist with the following: 1. redirecting participants thoughts from rumination of adverse situations to meditating on the Lord and his various divine attributes; 2. aiding participants in changing their negative emotions and moods into positive ones.

Satisfied: the glory of Christ in counseling: how biblical theology reforms biblical counseling

Gary Bernhard Spooner
The project establishes a Christ-centered, community-based counseling center that demonstrates through case studies the benefits of biblical theology in biblical counseling. It argues that biblical theology, by its nature, reforms the conception of biblical counseling toward the glory of God, reforms the content of biblical counseling toward biblical narrative, and reforms the practice of biblical counseling toward the life of faith.

Being transformed in the image of Christ

Elaine J Eskew
This Doctor of Ministry project addresses the need and benefits of undergoing a spiritual transformation by Christians into the image of Christ. Knowing who you are will empower Christians in times of spiritual crisis and distress. The solution was the development and implementation of the Theo-Transformational Ministry Bible Study Series "Being Transformed in the Image of Christ Project" (BTIC). The project explores the biblical and theological basics for forming a transformational ministry to work in conjunction with the apostolic teachings of the church universal.

Responding to sexual temptation in a high tech society

Richard L Thompson
The specific concern addressed in this project is Internet addiction with an emphasis on Internet pornography. The author suggests that such an addiction in the life of a believer is a matter of idolatry. He points out that the normal secular counseling strategies with their emphasis on addiction as "disease" and even many of the "so called" Christian strategies fail to address the spiritual issues involved in ways that bring real healing and wholeness. The author read extensively in the literature published on this topic and interviewed those involved with the addiction including victims, counselors and the abusers themselves. He then developed a Bible study addressing the topic in a way that used law/gospel leading to confession and absolution.

The plan, design, and implementation of life: changing small groups at Saginaw Bay Church of Christ

Henry Kott
Togetherness and connection is central in the intent of the Scripture. To test this idea of community, we conducted leadership training to handle every member should they decide to join one. Seven new leaders and apprentices along with a host family carried the load of creating our desired result of connecting our church membership into small groups. The author discovered the small group facilitates the ongoing process of discipleship, the small group lends itself effectively in service to the church and the wider community, and small groups need a lot of administration: a director and a coach were necessary.
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