Covenant Theological Seminary

Intergenerational women's ministry : encouraging and building each other up

Lisa F. Turner
The purpose of this study was to explore how church directors of women’s ministry (DWM) create intergenerational programs for women. If DWM are equipped to plan intergenerational programs, they will be able to contribute in greater ways to the church’s overall mission.
The study employed a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with six directors of women’s ministry who lead an intergenerational women’s ministry. Four research questions guided this study: What planning process do DWM use to create intergenerational programs for women? What are the outcomes for which DWM create intergenerational programs for women? What challenges do DWM face in creating intergenerational programs for women? What leadership strategies do DWM employ to navigate the challenges of creating intergenerational programs for women?
The literature review focused on three areas related to the Biblical framework of relationships, intergenerational worldview differences, and leadership agility. The literature, the research questions, and the data are inseparable throughout the study. They are woven together in this exploration of creating intergenerational programs where women of all ages can build meaningful relationships and grow spiritually.
The study found that it is extremely important to have an intergenerational leadership team in order to create an intergenerational ministry. A surprising finding was the criteria some DWM use to measure success. Rather than utilizing attendance as the measure, one used how many women were involved in making the event happen. The study also found three major challenges that DWM must overcome when creating an intergenerational ministry: resistance to change, technology, and competition with other women’s ministries. Another finding was that leadership agility is a necessity for DWM because in today’s world change is inevitable and they must be ready to adapt to the unexpected. The study concluded with practical suggestions and recommendations.

Digitization & neodocetism : Generation Z’s understanding of their bodies in light of expanding digital existences

Seth Troutt
The purpose of this study is to examine how Christian therapists and professors describe the impact of digitization on Generation Z’s bodily self-concept. Generation Z has grown up with phones in their hands and with their friends in their phones. Pastors must consider the effects digitization will have on the iGen and give substantial reflection on how digitized ecclesiologies might contribute to gnostic instincts in the information age.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with seven Christian therapists and professors with extensive experience working with Generation Z. The interviews focused on gaining data with three research questions: 1) How do Christian therapists and professors describe Gen Z’s self-understanding of their bodies? 2) How do Christian therapists and professors describe the impact of digitization on Gen Z’s views of their bodies? 3) How do Christian therapists and professors advise ministry leaders to minister to Gen Z concerning Gen Z Christians’ views of their bodies? The literature review focused on four key areas to understand ministry in this context: theology of the body, theology of technology, digital effect on bodily self-concept, and Generation Z’s relationship with digitization.
This study concluded that digitization does contribute to overly developed dualistic instincts in Generation Z. This reduces personhood to cognition, promotes dissociative instincts with regards to bodily processes, dislodges self from place, and fragments self-concept. Ministry leaders ought to resist the effects of digitization by means of teaching a robust theology of the body, training parents, creating embodied experiences, and helping Generation Z see the goodness of congruence in Christ.

Getting your feet wet without drowning : transformational change in adolescents from domestic short-term missions

Andrew Stern
The purpose of this study was to examine how church leaders who participated in a domestic short term mission (STM) during high school engage local community needs years later. While STM is a prevalent and costly event in church youth ministry, little study has been done to measure the impact of adolescent STM on future church leaders.
This research utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with seven church leaders. As adolescents, they participated in a domestic STM. The interview analysis concluded that participants’ domestic high school STM had significant immediate and long-lasting impact in their vocational calling, leadership development, work in their community, and biases around race and culture.
The literature review reveals that STM has a biblical basis. STM is evidenced in wall-building in Nehemiah 3. The impact of wall-building in Nehemiah 3 is transformational for both individuals and the community in Nehemiah 5.
Contemporary research concludes that STM is a cornerstone of church youth ministry. This study showed the importance of adolescent STM in revealing and affirming ministry calling and leadership gifting. This research affirmed that STM facilitates transformational learning when it is coupled with service learning practices. This transformational learning broke down bias around race and culture. Neurobiological research affirms that adolescent brain development supports this transformational, perspective-changing learning during STM. Global learning objectives aid STM planning and evaluation. Church leaders advocate for STM because they value its role in beginning the process of breaking down bias.
Coinciding with recent STM research, this study affirms that domestic STM is better suited to adolescents when compared to international STM. Domestic STM provides sufficient but not overwhelming challenge to foster transformational learning for adolescents. As one participant said, adolescent domestic STM fosters “getting your feet wet without drowning.”

Preaching with feeling in mind : how cognitive neuroscience encourages a preacher's appeal to emotions

Jay Joye
The purpose of this study is to explore how a preacher appeals to emotions to impact congregants as it correlates with cognitive neuroscience findings.
Countless Biblical texts highlight the importance of emotions in the life of a believer. Likewise, homiletics has long encouraged emotional preaching, calling communicators to wed together logos and pathos. Recent advancements in cognitive neuroscience stress emotions’ importance. Despite the Biblical, homiletical, neuroscientific, and cultural emphases, a lack of expression of emotion may be characteristic of homiletical methodology in the dominant American Protestant church culture.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with six pastors of different races from reformed denominations. All six pastors were committed to emotional appeals in their preaching. The literature review and constant-comparative analysis of the six interviewees focused on four research questions: how does a preacher appeal to emotions, how is the impact of a sermon measured, what obstacles stand in the way of emotional preaching, and how do these appeals correlate to cognitive neuroscience?
The literature review focused on three key areas to understand a preacher’s appeal to emotions: homiletics’ emphasis on the use of emotions, cognitive neuroscience’s support for appeals to emotions, and the doctrine of illumination.
This study concluded four things regarding appeals to emotion in preaching.
Consensus exists between homileticians, neuroscientists, and practitioners regarding the importance of appealing to emotions. The effectiveness of emotional preaching outweighs the risks associated with it. No appeals to emotion are likely apart from preachers identifying with the emotions of others. The mystery of the Holy Spirit in illumination does not mitigate the necessity of emotional appeals.
Four practices are recommended for preachers: Know your emotional God. Know your emotional self. Know the emotion of your scripture text. Know your emotional contexts.

How long? : using lament to restore hope in the dying process

Michael C. Hoppe
It is not uncommon to find people at end-of-life who feel stuck; they are neither healthy nor progressing toward death rapidly. The literature identifies this state of “stuckness” as a condition called “persistent liminality.” This condition often involves a sense of being in a suspended state, lacking a sense of time and space, and feeling dislocated from God and the self. This researcher desires to provide understanding about existential loss due to persistent liminality at end-of-life and a strategy for assisting people to regain meaning and realize agency once again by connecting to God through lament. This study explores how pastoral counselors use lament to restore hope to people in a state of persistent liminality at end-of-life.
This study employed a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with seven pastoral counselors who have served as hospice chaplains for three years or longer. Three research questions guided this qualitative study: 1) How do pastoral counselors understand the purpose of lament? 2) In what ways do pastoral counselors use lament to minister to people in a state of persistent liminality at end-of-life? And 3) How do pastoral counselors evaluate the effectiveness of using lament to restore hope to people in a state of persistent liminality at end-of-life?
The literature review focused on three key areas central to this study: 1) understanding persistent liminality at end-of-life, 2) examining approaches currently used to address persistent liminality at end-of-life and their effectiveness, and 3) exploring how lament addresses persistent liminality at end-of-life.
The findings of this study reveal that lament can contribute to restoring hope to those suffering from persistent liminality at end-of-life. Finally, several recommendations are offered for how believers can reclaim the practice of lament in public and private worship.

Anglican elders? : shared pastoral leadership in Anglican churches

Christopher David Edward Moll
Because the Church of England is historically clerical, the incumbent pastor formally shares the pastoral burden or cure of souls with the Bishop. Evangelical Anglicans are impelled by both Scripture and mission to consider the New Testament pattern of plural local leaders or elders. This research explored the experience of Anglican ministers and church planters who established locally-shared shared pastoral leadership through a Ministry Leadership Team (MLT).
The purpose of the research was to explore the benefits of shared leadership for making and maturing disciples. In surveying the literature advocating the benefits and biblical precedents of shared leadership, it was noted that in contrast to other evangelicals, Anglicans apply the biblical data using the Normative Principle derived from the work of Richard Hooker. Four questions guided the research: (1) How does the local church’s shepherding ministry strengthen the work of making disciples? (2) What are the benefits of a ministry leadership team in the work of making disciples? (3) What practices have promoted collaborative working between members of the ministry leadership team, with particular regard to the work of making disciples Church? (4) How is the pastors’ Anglican self-identity manifest in the practice of shared local ministry leadership?
Nine UK pastors were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire with the data analyzed using the constant comparative method. Common and clear benefits are articulated by the respondents. The lay offices of churchwarden and PCC were also re- evaluated with respect to the responsibilities outlined in the New Testament for church
officers. The respondents exhibited a clear and confessional Anglican identity. Possible models for accommodating a MLT within the existing parochial structures are explored. Finally it was noted that in these theologically complementarian churches, the role and place of female pastoral leaders was not fully resolved.

It’s Easier Together: Christian Teamwork through the Eyes of Ruling Elders in Mid-Sized Reformed Churches

Matt Giesman
The purpose of this study is to investigate how ruling elders from mid-sized Reformed churches describe their teamwork. The assumption of this study is that most pastors do not begin their ministry with a sufficient understanding of the need for teamwork amongst their lay leaders and that such teamwork is vital to their ministry success.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with eight elders at mid-sized churches (approximately 150-450 in attendance) in the Presbyterian Church in America. The literature review and analysis of the eight interviews focused on three key areas to understand the nature of teamwork in mid-sized Reformed churches: trust in teams, power dynamics in teams, and the parity of elders.
This study found that the following are the five most common descriptions of teamwork in mid-sized Reformed churches: fellowship beyond business hours builds trust and teamwork; healthy conflict and patient listening are hallmarks of healthy teamwork; power is used “judiciously” in healthy teams; consensus is sought and usually achieved in healthy teams; healthy teams are humble, with no MVP, with no head except Christ.
Therefore, the study concluded that these strategies should be implemented and modeled in mid-sized Reformed churches by elders.

Transition from Founding Pastor to First Successor Pastor: Every Pastor Is an Interim Pastor

Christopher A. Polski
Stories of conflict, loss and congregational collapse are far too common during seasons of pastoral transition and especially so when the transition in view is the transition from the founding pastor to the first successor pastor, a circumstance that presents a highly unique set of challenges that often prompt a crisis of identity within a still young congregation. The purpose of the study is to explore how church leaders describe influential factors in their process of transitioning from a founding pastor to a first successor pastor.
This study made use of a qualitative design utilizing semi-structured interviews of founding pastors, first successor pastors and key church leaders who were involved in congregations in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) that had recently undergone a transition from a founding pastor to a first successor pastor.
The literature review focused on surveying insights and principles related to transition in the following fields of inquiry: Core Ministry Practices, initial Biblical leadership transitions, leadership transitions in stepfamilies, leadership transitions in business, and leadership transitions in churches.
This study revealed that there are seven key principles that must be considered in relation to a first pastoral transition:
Principle #1: Every Pastor Is an Interim Pastor
Principle #2: Founding Pastors Make a Unique Mark
Principle #3: Plan for Transition Now
Principle #4: Continually Recalibrate Your Culture for Smoother Transition
Principle #5: Transition Isn’t Over when the New Pastor is Installed
Principle #6: Engage the Inevitable Loss in Transition
Principle #7: Even in Difficult Initial Transitions, Hope Remains

The long-term hope for this study has been to give founding pastors, church planting core groups and church sessions working alongside a founding pastor, tools to heighten their awareness surrounding the complexity and inevitability of an initial pastoral transition.

Love and longing in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-3:13: expanding Robert Funk’s exclusive-authority view of the apostolic parousia

In his influential 1967 essay, Robert Funk coined the term “apostolic parousia” to describe Pauline passages where the apostle groups material related to his presence into one section of the letter. Funk argued that such material manifests the apostle’s presence within the letter, exclusively seeking to convey Paul’s apostolic authority and power to the readers. Funk’s essay and proposal have significantly impacted NT studies and continue to influence scholarly discourse.
While affirming much of Funk’s proposal, this thesis offers an expanded perspective of the apostolic parousia convention that corrects an unnecessarily restrictive view of its literary function. The study examines 1 Thess 2:17-3:13 and demonstrates that Paul literarily manifests his presence in that passage primarily to convey personal affection and a desire to see the readers.
The first part of the argument focuses on 1 Thessalonians as a whole and establishes that expressions of affection and affirmation as well as Paul’s minimization of authority characterize the entire letter, particularly the first three chapters. Such factors indicate no need for the apostle to emphasize his authority in the apostolic parousia section. An exegetical examination of 1 Thess 2:17-3:13 then demonstrates that Paul seeks to convey love and longing more than authority in this section.
The evidence confirms that 1 Thess 2:17-3:13 does not function exclusively or primarily to convey Paul’s authority and power, as Funk’s unqualified approach suggests. Pauline studies will consequently benefit from clear qualifications about the limits of Funk’s work in this area and also from further exploration and clarification of the multiple functions apostolic parousia passages exhibit in the apostle’s letters.

Preaching in an age of anxiety

Anxiety today is rising and building, one crisis after another, and yet the church remains an important refuge for many, serving to mediate that anxiety. Preaching in particular, as a central function of the church, plays a significant mitigating role. The purpose of this study is to explore how senior pastors preach Christ-centered sermons to lower anxiety in congregational systems.
The literature review focuses on four key areas: Jesus’ teaching on anxiety in Luke 12, anxiety in family systems perspective, the experience of anxiety in the person, and modern sources of anxiety.
This study utilizes a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with eight pastors who have served congregations for five years or longer in the role of senior pastor. Four research questions guided this qualitative study: 1. How do senior pastors describe the presence of anxiety in the congregational system? 2. How do senior pastors understand the impact of their presence on anxiety in the congregational system? 3. How do senior pastors negotiate their own anxiety as a part of the congregational system? 4. How do senior pastors describe sermons that lower anxiety in the congregational system?
The findings of this study reveal four components required to preach Christ-centered sermons that lower anxiety in the congregational system: discerning systemic realities of the congregation, practicing a non-anxious presence, shaping interpretive frameworks, and communicating in a manner that is challenging yet not coercive. Several practices and attitudes are suggested that best contribute to preaching in a manner that lowers anxiety in the congregational system.
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