Wesley Theological Seminary

Sanctification in the United Methodist Church: past, present, and future

Author
Lois J Grebe
Abstract
This paper looks at John Wesley's doctrine of sanctification to see what has happened to it and if it is possible to reappropriate it for contemporary United Methodists. First, sanctification is reviewed within Wesley's Way of Salvation. Next, the impact of the nineteenth century's holiness movement on sanctification is examined. Several lay people and clergy were interviewed to determine what contemporary United Methodists know about sanctification. Then eleven lay people participated in a five-week project, studying Wesley's experiential theology. Finally, some suggestions are made for incorporating this uniquely United Methodist doctrine into our churches today.

The sabbatical/study-leave as an instrument of clergy self-care, spiritual formation, and vocational development

Author
David A Goodpasture
Abstract
The author researched issues within the church's professional ministry relative to the spiritual formation and nurture of pastors, clergy self-care, and the vocational development of clergy throughout their years of service. Using both a case study and survey format, he examined the sabbatical/study-leave as 1) a specific expression of the biblical notions of Sabbath rest and the sabbatical year, and 2) as one instrument among many for the fostering of greater spiritual vitality within the clergy. The study raised significant questions for the church regarding the spiritual equipping and strengthening of clergy for their designated role as pastoral leaders within the Body of Christ.

The Christian education of children as a means of evangelism

Author
Kenneth J Fizer
Abstract
This project consists of a study of the Christian education of children as a means of evangelism. The focus of the project is the original mission of the Sunday School movement and ways in which today's church can recapture that mission. This mission is to reach out to unchurched children in the community and provide them with Christian nurture, leading them to an experience of God's saving grace in their lives.

Increasing adult christian education possibilities in the local church

Author
Kenneth R Fell
Abstract
With laity hesitant to commit to traditional education programs, will audio and video tapes loaned for individual use enhance the nurture and education of adults in the local church and strengthen other components of congregational life? The pro-active research method is employed. The author discovered that this effort did not reach beyond adults who normally attend traditional studies. However, the author discovered that available videotapes were attractive to visitors and could be modified to aid the incorporation of visitors into the life of the local church.

Spirituality and spiritual formation in the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Author
William B Farley
Abstract
This case study asks: "What role does spirituality and spiritual formation play in the life of the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church?" The authors describes how the conference understands spirituality and how it practices spiritual formation. The case study uses the responses from interviews for the description. The interviews are with persons active in the life of the conference. The author uses the World Council of Churches' ten essential marks of Christian spirituality and the seven factors essential for spiritual formation to theologically critique the interviews.

The lemmings: cliff notes on the state of mid-size congregations and related species in the Virginia Annual Conference from a church growth perspective

Author
W David Erickson
Abstract
The author explores the "state of the 190 middle sized congregations" and 197 larger congregations of the 1,225 congregations in the Virginia Annual Conference, the largest of United Methodism from a church growth perspective. The "quantitative research method" was used. The middle size church (125-249 in worship), a vital part of our ecosystem, is found to be a declining, "endangered species." They are afflicted with stagnation and decline, short pastorates, high death rates, low reception of members by profession of faith, financial stress and conflicted identity and goals. Ten of our 18 districts are widespread and rural. These have 5 or fewer larger churches for anchoring, meetings, mentoring. Yet conference-wide, among churches with over 125 in worship, the number of middle-size churches (125-249) dropped from 179 (62%) in 1980 to 141 (47%) congregations in 1999. An alarming 83.7% of middle size churches were declining or had less than the "poor" rate of growth (as per Wagner) of 25% growth per decade. Long term pastorates for all size churches was found to be the exception. 85% of "pastors in charge" or "senior pastors" will move before a 7th year. Length of pastorates and effectiveness in receiving unchurched persons were both found to steadily decline with each smaller size type of church. The author coined the acronym of LEMMINGS for "long established Mid-sized Ministries in No Growth Situations." With data from 1980 to 2000, this study is a "snapshot" of the church as it begins the 21st century. A bibliography of current literature in the field of church growth is provided.

The function of covenant discipleship in developing discipleship and spiritual formation for personal and congregational ministry: a pilot group program

Author
Bruce W Ebert
Abstract
The research question asked: "Will participation in a Covenant Discipleship group help members of a congregation develop a practice of discipleship and learn the disciplines of spiritual formation, and will this better enable their personal and congregational ministries?" By use of a one-year pilot program of Covenant Discipleship as designed by Dr. David Lowes Watson from his adaptation of John Wesley's early Methodist class meetings, members of one congregation showed through questionnaires, interviews, and shared observations of the author, definite growth in their practice of Christian discipleship, and in preparing for leadership in ministry.

The effect of the walk to Emmaus on the spirituality of congregations

Author
Edna C Dismus
Abstract
By using a questionnaire, the author surveyed clergy and laity of United Methodist Churches in the northern New Jersey Conference in an attempt to prove that the "Walk to Emmaus" has an effect on the spirituality of local congregations. Some of the clergy and all the laity that participated had been on a "Walk to Emmaus." The study proved that there was a positive effect on the United Methodist congregations. Both laity and clergy agreed that people who had been on the "Walk to Emmaus" made a difference in the ministry of the local congregation.

The third circle: the effects of spiritual formation on ministry to the world

Author
Brenda J DeCoursey
Abstract
Thesis: a mature relationship with God informs and impels Christians to engage in ministry to the world. Method of research: program evaluation of an existing spiritual formation model whose end goal is discovery of spiritual gifts to "serve the world." A questionnaire, primary documents of the model, information-rich case studies and being a participant observer, were the means of gathering and interpreting data. Conclusion: Overall lasting aspects of this model contribute to individual spiritual growth including conscious raising, education and validation of existing discipleship. Overall weakness is lack of accountability for discipleship and effective connection of spiritual gifts and ministry to the world.

Comin' out of the valley: the revival and revitalization of a black urban church in the predominantly white United Methodist denomination

Author
Joseph W Daniels
Abstract
The writer researched the problem of "how does an urban black church within the predominantly white United Methodist Church revive and revitalize itself and the black community it serves? Using the church he serves as the foundation for the project, and using the pro-active method of research for this study, the author focuses on three areas critical to its revival and revitalization: the roles of the connectional system, the congregation, and the congregation within the community it serves. Upon conclusion, the author has discovered and demonstrated that when the three entities are working in tandem, God brings revival and revitalization to what was once "dry bones."
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