Pittsburgh Theological Seminary

Eldership and discipleship in the Church of Scotland

Author
Graeme R Wilson
Abstract
This project researched the relationship between discipleship and the distinctive spiritual understanding of the office of Elder in the Church of Scotland. The author developed a biblical and (Reformed) theological model of cross-shaped discipleship based on the vertical and horizontal dimensions of love of God and love of neighbour respectively. Group discussions, interviews, and questionnaires generated qualitative and quantitative research data. The project revealed that the eldership favoured the horizontal elements of community and service over the more "spiritual" vertical dimension of discipleship, and that this may account for the eclipse of the "spiritual" in the office of Elder today.

The pastor as teaching elder: a design for education in Christian commitment

Author
James Arthur Walther
Abstract
The author addresses a basic problem of the congregation he served: the low level of commitment of many members to the church and its mission. Research sought to pin-point basic biblical principles involved in discipleship today, along with contemporary findings on how faith development takes place. From the research, an eight-week program to deepen commitment was designed, using two small group models: a Bible study employing guided individual research and group interaction, and a personal growth group based on transactional analysis. Participants' and author's evaluations and implications for other areas of pastoral ministry are included.

From spear-carriers to disciples: a project for renewal of Aspinwall United Presbyterian Church through revitalizing its operating committee

Author
David Mitchell Thompson
Abstract
The thesis of this project is that a discouraged, declining, depressed congregation with low self-esteem can be molded into an effective instrument for mission through a program designed to increase effectiveness of the administrative structures by which that church does its work. The study was conducted over a two-year period by measuring the degree of dissatisfaction prevalent, then providing events and activities designed to give personnel feelings of achievement and self-worth. After two years, further testing disclosed a measurable increase in the perception of effectiveness of the committees. In that sense the project was a success, although the renewal which was engendered is an open-ended one whose continuation should greatly enhance the future of the church.

The merging church: recommended strategies for unity

Author
Walter Radulovich
Abstract
This thesis provides strategies for the pastor involved in merging two or more churches. Additionally, there are strategies for a Joint Merger Committee, the Presbytery and the Session prior to the merger. The author interviewed 65 members in 16 Presbyterian churches that merged in six different Presbyteries located in western Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio and the Panhandle of West Virginia. The study results in strategies designed to assist pastors, Sessions, and Presbytery personnel so they can promote unity and provide an effective ministry in merged congregations.

Tzedaka: a mini-course

Author
Barry Roger Friedman
Abstract
Since no textbook existed for the Junior High or Senior High Jewish religious school in the area of Tzedaka (the Hebrew word for philanthropic behavior, both charitable giving and the performance of good deeds), this dissertation involved the writing of a textbook and teacher's guide to be used in a four week mini-course on Tzedaka; the actual teaching of the course to a tenth grade confirmation class; and the evaluation of the course from the perspectives of statistical validation and social psychology. The textbook was designed to serve two functions: 1) to convey information from the Jewish traditional literature on Tzedaka, and 2) to modify student behaviors from non-Tzedaka-prone to Tzedaka-prone. The evaluation of the course proved the success of both functions.

A study of the dynamics among male and female ministers of the same church staff in the United Presbyterian Church in the USA

Author
Harry G Winsheimer
Abstract
The study examines dynamics of ten staffs with male and female pastors of the United Presbyterian Church in the United States. Except for rejection of females as staff leaders and their frustration in changing pastorates, attractive personality and competence are more important than gender. Inadequate knowledge of common staff dynamics, in which sex is but one factor, causes misunderstandings of their complexity. To enhance harmony and mutuality during candidacy and in staff relationships, a discussion-starter is provided. A theoretical model of staff relationships is developed. It incorporates motifs of harmony and mutuality and focuses on pastors as servant-leaders.

A couple-centered methodology of preparation for marriage

Author
Donald Guy Scandrol
Abstract
Traditional methods of premarital counseling tend to be counselor-centered with pastors and denominations establishing the nature and content of the counseling. However, employing questionnaires directed toward a group of engaged couples and a group of married couples, the author has established a basis for couple-centered preparation for marriage. Most couples in the sample believe that such preparation is important; they are eager to state their needs and desires concerning marriage preparation. The author has developed a methodology of couple-centered marriage preparation employing a variety of need-assessment instruments and personal interviews with premarital couples.

An educational design in daily disciplines and evangelism for sustaining the emerging renewal in an old first church

Author
Dennis M Salmon
Abstract
The purpose of the project was to see if an educational program in daily disciplines and evangelism was a way of sustaining renewal in a downtown congregation. The study includes theological foundations with a focus on process theology. Educational foundations are based on developmental psychology. The method of study included a wide range of programs in prayer, spiritual reading, Bible study and evangelism. The result of the study has implications that such an educational design does sustain renewal. The evaluation tool requires further refinement to give more specific results.

Preaching: proclamation and art, a case study of the use of the arts in the preaching ministry of the church

Author
Chris Petrak
Abstract
This project explores the contribution which the arts can make to the preaching ministry of the church. A theory of preaching as proclamation is developed. Aesthetics, theology, and related disciplines help develop a theological understanding of preaching. Seven sermons preached by the author are presented as examples of the contribution to, and integration of, the arts in preaching. Arts employed include short story, drama, poetry, music, and visual arts. Evaluation demonstrates congregational responsiveness to effective integration of the arts into preaching, suggesting the need for greater variety and imagination in all preaching.

Clergymen at mid-life: a study of change and continuity in the lives of fifteen male pastors

Author
John W McLeister
Abstract
The study discerns changes and continuities of experience in the contexts of personal identity, family relationships, vocation, and life-meaning among a limited sample of pastors within the mid-life transition period (ages 35-49). Information was obtained by open-ended interviews with Protestant Episcopal, United Methodist, and United Presbyterian clergymen (five from each denomination). Undergirding the conceptual framework of the study are developmental psychological findings primarily of Erikson, Levinson, Gould, Sheehy, Howe, and Sherrill. The study also develops a theology of mid-life based upon the issues raised by entry into middle adulthood.
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