Covenant Theological Seminary

Christ-centered motivations

Author
Olan Stubbs
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to understand the challenges of preaching Christ-centered sermons while using all of the motives for Christian obedience that the Bible uses. The Bible uses many different motivations to move Christians towards obedience, such as the promise of rewards and the threat of consequences. Some of these motives do not seem "Christ-centered" to some at first glance and thus are often neglected by so called "Christ-centered" preachers. This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with five pastors in the Reformed Church in America. The review of literature and analysis of the five interviews focused on three key areas of motivations in preaching. These three areas of focus were: legitimate motives, motives preachers actually use, and how various motives relate to one another.

Bridging the theory/practice divide in theological education

Author
Charles W Davidson
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore how seminary students in Juarez, Mexico describe the importance of their concurrent leadership experience in transferring classroom theory about leadership to ministry practice. The study utilized a qualitative case study design using semi-structured interviews with six students who studied a class on leadership at the San Pablo Presbyterian Seminary in Juarez, Mexico. The findings of the study revealed that these students constructed meaning of class theory, were motivated to utilize it in practice, and transferred theory to practice by utilizing their concurrent leadership responsibilities. This study concluded that pre-professional theological education should include as much experiential education as possible into the curriculum. Bridging the theory-practice divide is possible by working hard to minimize the breach between academics and practice.

Nervous preacher: how anxious preachers can learn to successfully cope with public speaking anxiety

Author
Matt Herndon
Abstract
This dissertation was designed to help preachers who struggle with public speaking anxiety (PSA) learn to cope with their condition. The researcher conducted a literature review of homileticians, public speaking experts, and Bible commentators to investigate the problem of PSA and what can be done about it. Additionally, qualitative research was conducted in which the researcher interviewed experienced preachers who have suffered the symptoms of PSA and have experienced improvement in their condition. At the end of the dissertation, the researcher makes best-practice recommendations to nervous preachers in order to help them alleviate their PSA symptoms.

How pastors develop spiritual shepherds for the local church

Author
David L Harding
Abstract
This study was to explored how pastors develop leaders as spiritual shepherds for the local church. This study utilized a qualitative research design, in which seven pastors were interviewed based on a semi-structured interview format. The literature review and analysis of the seven interviews revealed that developing spiritual shepherds is a long-term process of helping people discern God's calling to this role, and helping them develop the competencies and character required. This study concluded that developing spiritual shepherds requires a strong relational investment, a commitment to using ordinary means of grace, and relying upon the help of the congregation.

Pastoring the church around the corner: how pastors of small churches evaluate their effectiveness in light of divergent views of success

Author
Ronald E Gonzales
Abstract
The author researched how small church pastors evaluate their effectiveness. Four literature areas were reviewed: biblical-theological; Puritan notables; twentieth- and twenty-first-century authors on pastoral ministry; and contemporary writers on leadership effectiveness. The study employed a qualitative design in which eight small church pastors reflected on their experiences. Comparing and contrasting the literature with the interviews led to several conclusions: pastoring small churches is difficult; God is in charge of outcomes; diligence and faithfulness must be a minister's aim; prayer must accompany preaching; longevity is an asset; a reward awaits; and pastoring small churches is a noble calling.

Systematic theology and the spiritual formation of laypersons

Author
Yancey C Arrington
Abstract
The purpose of this study is to discover how laypersons experience the dynamics of spiritual formation through training in systematic theology. Four research questions guided this study: How did the study of systematic theology impact 1) the participants' thinking, 2) the participants' actions, 3) the participants' affections, and finally 4) what about systematic theology uniquely contributes to their spiritual formation? The data was analyzed using the constant comparative method. The data demonstrated that systematic theology uniquely enhanced their spiritual formation increasing confidence in faith, a love for God and the Bible, and peace with the mystery of the Divine.

Does she matter? Emotional intimacy in marriage in light of gender distinction

Author
Richard Williams
Abstract
Evangelical Christians have greater marital success than the general population. Gender distinction distinguishes Christian marriage, but its impact on emotional intimacy, critical in contemporary marriage, is under-studied. A qualitative study of ten Christian husbands in enduring intergendered marriages yet with a history of same-sex attraction or monogendered relationships, considered able spokesmen for gender effects, confirmed the power of intimacy to forge a lasting marriage. Wives' gender distinction correlated with intimacy, expressed through authority deferral, home care and strong helping. Many reasons surfaced for the gender-intimacy link, providing plausible dynamics for why wives' both inherent qualities and deliberate practices cultivated intimacy.

How bivocational church planters have operated in an Irish context

Author
David J Montgomery
Abstract
This study examines the experience of Irish planters who worked bivocationally in order to see if this may be a more viable option for future Irish Presbyterian planting strategy. The study looked at how the planter and plant were affected by the leader's vocational status. The literature review is comprised of relevant church planting literature, literature concerning work and the interplay of vocation, and the history of the Irish Presbyterian Church. For the purpose of qualitative research, ten planters and five others participated in informal semi-structured interviews. It was discovered that bivocationalism, although not without its difficulties, could contribute to the planting process in several key ways.

The impact of online audiences on preaching ministries in local churches

Author
John David Ellis
Abstract
This study explored ways that pastors whose sermons are posted online as audio recordings address the needs and concerns of their local congregations. Employing qualitative research, the author reviewed pertinent literature and interviewed seven Christian pastors who preach to local congregations and whose sermons are podcast. The study found reasons to be concerned that podcasting pastors' sermons might alter the way they preach to their congregants. However, it also revealed that there are practices that can be employed by pastors whose sermons are podcast that enable them to continue preaching effectively to their church members.

"What happened?" and "What now?": exploring how Reformed pastors minister to the parents of apostate emerging adults

Author
Joost Nixon
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to explore how Reformed pastors minister to the parents of prodigal emerging adult children. This study focused on three key areas that affect how pastors minister to the parents of apostate emerging adults: the religious lives of emerging adults, biblical and theological concerns regarding baptism, apostasy, and covenantal status of children, and policies churches have employed to minister to apostate young adults and their parents. This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with Reformed pastors in the Northwestern United States. This study found that parents have a strong shaping influence on their children's religious faith, and that prevention through consistent reinforcement of covenantal indicatives and parental example is critical, and that redemptive solutions to apostate emerging adults must embrace the entire church community.
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