Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

TRAINING SMALL GROUP LEADERS TO LEAD THE EMERGING ADULTS OF TRINITY CHURCH OF THE NAZARENE

Author
John Michael Barefield D.Min.
Abstract
This Doctor on Ministry project created a training program to train small group leaders to lead the emerging adults for Trinity Church of the Nazarene in Charlotte, North Carolina. This project shared the concerns of the church in losing emerging adults after they graduate from high school. The project explored the concerns of the emerging adult generation. The literature research included the writings of Chap Clark, Kara E. Powell, David Kinnaman, Corey Seemiller, Meghan Grace, Pew Research, and others.

This qualitative research project focused on how to train leaders to lead a small group of emerging adults. This project was conducted in three phases. The first phase presented in a six-part sermon series to the congregation. The second phase interviewed emerging adult participants. The third phase trained small group leaders to lead emerging adults.

This project helped the congregation, and small group leaders, to have a better understanding of emerging adults. The small group leaders gained confidence in leading emerging adults. The pastor learned to be sensitive to the needs, interests, and values of the emerging adults in his congregation.

IDENTIFYING COMMON CHALLENGES FACING LEADERS IN THE SECOND GENERATION OF LARGE CHURCHES TO FORTIFY HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH DOWNTOWN (MINNEAPOLIS)

Author
Cor M Chmieleski D.Min.
Abstract
The purpose of this project was to identify common challenges facing leaders in the
second generation of large churches. This was the reality of Hope Community Church
Downtown (HCC DT) in Minneapolis, MN at the time of this paper’s formation. Specific areas
of challenge which have been explored include growth from small to large and transitions in
leadership between generation and senior leaders. The fortification of the church depends on
building an accurate list of common challenges that can be later addressed by church staff and
leadership.

The process utilized to accomplish that purpose included robust biblical and literature
research followed by interviews with seven pastors serving in churches similar to HCC DT. The
initial research led to a preliminary list of challenges which were then utilized in interviews to
determine their relative validity within the lived experiences of pastors. Analysis of the research
and field work revealed five significant findings churches must address for the sake of long-term
endurance: (1) Answer the question, “Who are we today?”, (2) Address unavoidable realities, (3)
Foster the following, (4) Protect against these, and (5) Achieve success in pastoral succession.
Each of these is explained and illustrated with real-life examples from within local churches.

Upon completion of this project, a list of common challenges was presented to the elders
and staff of HCC DT. It was then their responsibility to read, discuss, pray, and respond to the
challenges addressed herein.

HERMENEUTICAL MEDITATION AT FOUNTAIN OF LIFE: FOSTERING A HABITUAL INTERACTION WITH SCRIPTURE AMONG MILLENNIALS

Author
Matthew Bassett Ford D.Min.
Abstract
Thesis:
A certain kind of habitual interaction the author calls “hermeneutical mediation” is both biblically warranted and effective for cultivating growth in life transformation for the Christian. The author asserts that properly interpreting the Scriptures as well as properly interpreting oneself in light of the Scriptures is paramount for life change. The study especially focused on cultivating this habit among Millennials.

Method:
After submitting a questionnaire to the congregation at large and facilitating pre-seminar interviews with a volunteer group of Millennials from the congregation, the author implemented a six-session seminar designed to cultivate “hermeneutical meditation” among the Millennials who volunteered. Post-seminar interviews were then facilitated in order to discern the results of the effort.

Conclusion:
The seminar could be improved, but after the implementation and interviews, it is clear that fostering hermeneutical meditation through a seminar format was effective for helping Christians (especially in this case, Millennials) grow in life transformation through their habitual interaction with Scripture.

THE INDICATIVE / IMPERATIVE CONSTRUCT IN PAUL’S WRITINGS AS A PASTORAL TOOL FOR SPIRITUAL FORMATION

Author
Christopher Allen Oliveri D.Min.
Abstract
A distorted view of the gospel leads to distorted Christian lives. This is particularly true when believers try to live the Christian life without an awareness of what the gospel says about their union with Christ. In this condition they become vulnerable to two grave spiritual dangers legalism and licentiousness. The Indicative / Imperative construct can bring clarity and help against the debilitating effects of these two detrimental spiritual conditions. This construct is found especially in the Pauline epistles (Eph. 4:1ff.; Rom. 12:1ff.) as the Apostle boldly declares to the recipients who they are in Christ (indicative) and then how they must live anew on the basis of this new spiritual identity (imperative).

This project utilized qualitative research techniques to explore the use of the Indicative / Imperative Construct as a pastoral tool for spiritual formation. The researcher preached a series of seven sermons highlighting the Indicative / Imperative construct in the writings of Paul. A focus group of twelve participants gathered weekly following each sermon. A pre and post focus group survey was utilized along with weekly homework assignments. A group interview was conducted during the eighth and final focus group gathering. Four weeks after the final focus group meeting, each participant took part in an individual interview. A trained participant observer recorded field notes throughout each focus group session. These notes, in combination with the researcher’s observational notes, provided a multilayered data set for evaluation as the project progressed.

After evaluating the data results, trends towards spiritual growth in connection with a deepening grasp of the Indicative / Imperative Construct became apparent in the lives of several project participants. There were other trends in the data that were not overwhelmingly conclusive however, the researcher learned several lessons from this project that will impact his ministry for years to come.

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.

TOWARDS A STRATEGY OF GOSPEL GROWTH FOR CHURCHES FACING THE CHALLENGES OF MINISTRY & MISSION IN COASTAL CONTEXTS IN SYDNEY

Author
Richard Wenden D.Min.
Abstract
Churches in the 21st century find themselves in a post-Christian context, and the ongoing challenge for ministry teams and their congregations is how to adapt to this changing landscape with the accompanying cultural shifts. Churches in suburban coastal contexts face a myriad of challenges, especially the lifestyle that comes with living in what are deemed to be ‘destination’ suburbs. This Project is an attempt to consider these challenges afresh against the biblical and theological backdrop of the church’s mission, in line with God’s mission in Scripture. It explores these challenges through the lens of the Bible, 1 Peter in particular, where Christians are very much ‘in exile’.

The Project shows how an understanding of cultural movements and demographics, the importance of contextualization as a way of engaging people with the gospel, and how a shift in the church’s thinking towards adopting a ‘Third Place’ posture enables us to show people what real gospel-oriented community looks like. Ultimately it seeks to offer some ways forward along the lines of embracing an urban spirituality, helping people to see how the gospel can ‘reorder their disordered loves’ as they are pointed towards Jesus, and how more intentional training in discipleship and evangelism might equip congregations to be a faithful presence in their spheres of influence.

This Project focused upon congregations along Sydney’s coastal fringe. Through interviews with ministers of Anglican churches at the ‘coalface’ and by utilizing qualitative data, the goal is to assist churches that have historically struggled in coastal contexts to formulate strategies enabling them to be missionally effective, through a renewed approach to ministry planning. It is hoped this planning may bring significant, gospel-based, long-term impact on individual church members and the churches, to bring blessing to their suburbs, gospel growth to churches, and glory to God.

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.

DEVELOPING AND EVALUATING A BIBLICAL PARENTING RESOURCE IN MEDIA MINISTRY

Author
Steven Koster D.Min.
Abstract
Media ministry publishes gospel content on paper, on the air, and online, but few robust feedback systems are in place to measure the spiritual impact of gospel broadcasts. This study articulated a theoretical foundation of a biblical theology and review of pastoral practices on children and parenting, published a resource on biblical parenting for distribution through the Internet, and then asked the audience for feedback.

The resource was rooted in a study of how the Bible regards both children and the task of parenting. The study also explored models of faith formation, pastoral parenting best practices, and a review of the religious landscape of contemporary youth. A 93-page electronic booklet (PDF) called “A Handbook of Biblical Parenting” was developed and shared with over a thousand people online, who were then invited via email to complete an online questionnaire.

The response rate was less than 2%, yet the audience was demographically in line with the expected audience. Most respondents were actively parenting young children, expressed an improvement in their parenting confidence, and found the resource practical, using its ideas several times. Most considered faith important to their parenting and found the resource to be encouraging, biblical, and educational. Most consumed the PDF deeply, even though most used a handheld mobile device. A repeated use of this prototype process would require a greater response rate to be consistently useful. Formatting for a small screen would be wise. The questions would require adaptation for other topics. Alternatively, a shorter version of the questionnaire could focus the inquiry more directly on gathering actionable information.

CHALLENGES RELATED TO THE TRANSMISSION OF FAITH TO THE SECOND GENERATION IN A SMALL SUBURBAN CANTONESE CHINESE CHURCH

Author
Teresa Gianakakos D.Min.
Abstract
This Doctor of Ministry project explored potential issues related to the transmission of faith to the second generation in a small suburban Cantonese Chinese church. It was initiated when the first generation at the church began to age, and the second generation who grew up in the church became disconnected and some even left the faith entirely.

Three qualitative research methodologies were employed to investigate the possible factors of second-generation exodus. Ethnographic observation, in-depth interview, and survey questionnaire were implemented. The first two methodologies extended to both the first and second generations at the church to explore their faith status, past experiences and perception of influences by Chinese and Western culture. The third methodology surveyed Chinese churches outside of this church to compare and contrast resulting data.

The methodologies were effective in eliciting data useful in recommending some possible considerations of ministries at the church. To produce these recommendations was also a goal of this project. The key conclusion was the first generation must be firmly established as a disciple of Jesus Christ, and live a transformed, holy life. Such transformation will not only touch the second generation, but also impact the surrounding community.
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