Covenant Theological Seminary

Experiencing Scripture: a qualitative study of the impact of a twelve week course on the art and science of biblical interpretation

Author
Austin McCaskill
Abstract
For this project I developed a course of study to train church members in the basic skills of hermeneutics as well as teach background material on the canon, the text of the Old and New Testaments, and strengths and weaknesses of different Bible translations. I also included several issues that are specific to the Reformed tradition, such as the relationship between the Old and New Testaments vis-à-vis dispensationalism. The specific purpose of this study was to discover how a twelve week course on hermeneutics can influence the level of confidence with which a person in the class interprets and applies the Scriptures to his or her own life. After teaching the course to twenty church members I interviewed six of them. Though most students had heard of the "Rule of Context" few knew how to apply it. They found the course very helpful on this point. The course also increased their ability to identify major biblical themes, increased their confidence in interpreting the Scriptures and hearing God speak to them concretely through Scripture, as well as their ability to identify mistakes others make in interpretation. Understanding the rules of genre was especially helpful to them. Further study is needed in two areas: First, in the relationship between the historical development of church doctrine and the discipline of hermeneutics. Second, in understanding the role of the Holy Spirit in the process of interpretation and application.

The effect of team competency enhancement on the outreach of Christian small groups

Author
Donald K Furuto
Abstract
This quasi-experimental study tested whether enhancing the team competence of a Christian small group increases its outreach. Results showed a strong correlation between seventeen team behaviors and seven outreach activities for 502 respondents in nine small group ministries. Men correlated 25% better than women, and leaders and participants correlated similarly. Overall, higher team competence and purpose led to higher outreach activity. In the experimental phase, test leaders from men's groups trained in key team and purpose competencies applied these actions to their groups. For group and outreach behavior, the scores of test group, leaders, and participants increased over comparable controls.

Creating the contagious congregation: a pro-active strategy for improving the corporate outreach of the church

Author
Wesley D Wright
Abstract
While there are many studies and resources that encourage the vision and purpose of the church with a clear emphasis on evangelism, few take on the challenge of using the corporate worship of the church as a tool for helping the Christian lead the non-Christian to Christ. The problem addressed is stated in the form of a question: is it possible for the Christian to use the worship of the corporate church as a bridge between the non-Christian and Christ? The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a model which harnesses the worshipping church in the process of evangelism. A study was made of a one-year experiment in the life of one Midwestern congregation, using five special Sundays as means for Christians to invite non-Christian friends to an encounter with Christ and His church. The strategy was developed around two hypotheses. The first suggested that it was possible to move the inwardly focused church to an outwardly focused church through individual Christian invitations to large church celebrations. The second hypothesis suggested that it was possible to activate the inactive Christian evangelist by providing the necessary spiritual and worship resources that strongly encourage the Christian to be involved in the process of evangelism. Data were collected from a focus group within the congregation using a pre-experimental measure of attitudes, and post-experimental attitudes. Data were also collected from a voluntary survey of visitors of the special Sunday celebrations. Study findings indicate that the experimental method was, in fact, effective in reaching larger numbers of non-Christians for an exposure to the gospel. The findings also suggest that the evangelistic growth of the church was made more effective during the experimental year.

A biblical, historical, and contemporary look at the regulative principle of worship

Author
Mark L Dalbey
Abstract
This project proposes that churches who seek to be faithful to the historic Reformed and Presbyterian regulative principle of worship will draw on both the richness of past expressions and the freshness of present expressions of biblical worship. The method of research includes extensive study of Scripture, church history, and contemporary worship. Surveys, personal observations, interviews, and workshops were utilized focusing on worship in the Presbyterian Church in America. The research reveals that churches putting worship focus on biblically commanded elements of worship with latitude in application across time and cultures draw on both past and present expressions of worship.

Pastors and premarital counseling: a descriptive study of Covenant Theological graduates from 1975-1995

Author
Jeffrey K Buikema
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to provide a descriptive study of premarital counseling preparation, perspectives, and practices by pastors who graduated from Covenant Theological Seminary between 1975-1995. From the findings, the seminary may evaluate and modify the existing marriage preparation education of her students. An extensive survey covering all three aspects of clergy and premarital counseling listed above, was mailed to 150 randomly selected graduates. The perspective of the vast majority of pastors in this study is that clergy are the primary providers of premarital counseling and they believe it should be required of all engaged couples. In keeping with previous research, most of the pastors in this study claim that their seminary preparation in premarital counseling was inadequate. Less than 25 percent received a class or seminar, while about 60 percent claim to have had a unit in premarital counseling. Only about one third of the resondents were exposed to a structured premarital counseling program and the same percentage of respondents were trained to use premarital counseling assessment instruments. Since pastors continue to provide a significant link between the church and the family, there continues to be a critical need today for seminaries and theological institutions to better educate and equip them to provide effective premarital counseling ministries in their churches. This study, like many others, bears out this conclusion.
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