Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

An Experience in Small Group Spiritual Direction at McGuire United Methodist Church

Author
Cynthia Frances Johnson Hooton D.Min.
Abstract
This research project studied the benefit of developing a Christian formation process at McGuire United Methodist Church in Monroe, Louisiana, focused on developing intimacy with God and the community of faith through small group spiritual direction; the personal prayer practices of journaling, praying the Psalms, Lectio Divina, and centering prayer; and, St. Benedict's monastic virtues of stability, obedience and conversion of life. The flow of spiritual direction included group contemplative silence, a time for each participant to share their journey into God, and a commitment to listen, reflect, and respond to the other group members’ narratives of their journey into God.

Preaching and Pastoral Care: Helping a Hurting Church Heal and Move Ministry Forward

Author
Curlee Lamont Adams D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis project focuses on preaching and pastoral care and its ability to help bring healing to a church hurting in the aftermath of issues that originated from previous pastoral leadership. In the black church context, such issues and the resulting hurt experienced by congregations have become almost normative, and the means by which it has been addressed is limited at best. People who have suffered from betrayal, hurt, and loss are often told to “let go and let God.” The perpetuation of this has often taken place from the pulpit, which should be a place from which the good news of Christ’s unending grace is preached. It is the effort of this writer to show through contextual practice how the integration of preaching and pastoral care can help churches overcome hurt in order to move ministry forward.

The Pastoral Pulpit: Preaching to Offer The Assurance of Grace to a First Generation Burmese-Chin Refugee Congregation in the U.S.

Author
Biak Lian Thang D.Min.
Abstract
This thesis project focuses on preaching to offer assurance of grace to the people who are living in the midst of struggle, and to help them see ‘who they are, what they are, and where they are’ as Burmese-Chin refugees in the U.S.A. It is based on the belief that preaching assurance of grace and of God’s saving act in their journey of life to encourage in a foreign land and assures the congregation of God’s presence and care. The thesis project seeks to show that preaching can offer the assurance of grace that helps a congregation experience God’s grace in their lives so that they can reach the community as the faithful witnesses through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, even though they are invisible, insignificant, and minorities in the society.

Prophetic Preaching to Foster Intergenerational Relationships in the Congregation

Author
James Alvin Jamison D.Min.
Abstract
Declining church attendance is a problem, locally and nationally, for many pastors and congregations. This decline is causing many pastors and churches to have concerns about the future survival of their ministries. There are many reasons given by church statisticians and church growth gurus for this decline. One of the problems can be traced to the generational divide that exists in many congregations between the seniors and those of younger age groups. This thesis offers strategies to use prophetic preaching as a tool to bridge the generation gap. The preacher has to be willing to be intentionally intergenerational in their approach to ministry and in the preparation and delivery of sermons. To do so, the preacher must craft sermons that include all generations so that the listening community becomes a church for all generations.

Using Spiritual Direction for Intercultural Development: An Integrative Journey

Author
Deborah Renee Penny D.Min.
Abstract
As seminaries strive to prepare students for increasingly multicultural societies, they must develop new ways to extend and teach hospitality and respond to cultural conflicts. Traditional approaches have largely focused on external behaviors. However, self-awareness and self- knowledge are critical components of intercultural development. Individuals cannot authentically engage cultural similarities and differences without awareness of their own cultural orientation. The ancient church practices of spiritual direction, when combined with the psychometric benefits of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and Intercultural Development Plan (IDP), can enhance cultural adeptness and improve self-awareness. This research project demonstrates the outcomes of this integrated strategy.

STUDYING THE IMPACT OF INTRODUCING A FOR-PROFIT SUBSIDIARY TO A LOCAL CONGREGATION

Author
Bradley Scott Stagg D.Min.
Abstract
This doctoral research project studied the impact of introducing a for-profit subsidiary to a local nonprofit congregation. The study reveals congregational leaders experienced emancipatory feelings of hope and spiritual agency when utilizing the innovation tool of a business Miniplan. Liberating congregations from the oppression of financial scarcity freed church leaders to consider new ways to address increasing costs, particularly deferred maintenance of aging buildings. This project used Participating Action Research as its research orientation, since it is ideal for business and church research. All participants reported significant spiritual growth in stewardship; emancipatory feelings of hope; and generalizability for the larger church.

Preaching for prophetic witness: inspiring a black middle-class congregation to engage its marginalized community

Author
Richard D Shaw
Abstract
Following the Civil Rights movements of the sixties, many Black preachers turned their away from prophetic preaching, and despite the critical need, chose not to preach sermons addressing social injustice during Sunday morning worship services. As a result, the Black church, in many cases, has become irrelevant on social issues that affect the communities where they are located. This thesis project addresses the requirements for preaching prophetically during Sunday morning worship to a Black, middle-class congregation, and aims to show that preaching for prophetic witness can be used as a means of inspiring a congregation that identifies itself as Black middle-class to reach out fully to its marginalized community.

Preaching for Prophetic Witness Inspiring a Black Middle-Class Congregation to Engage its Marginalized Community

Author
Richard D Shaw
Abstract
Following the Civil Rights movements of the sixties, many Black preachers turned their away from prophetic preaching, and despite the critical need, chose not to preach sermons addressing social injustice during Sunday morning worship services. As a result, the Black church, in many cases, has become irrelevant on social issues that affect the communities where they are located. This thesis project addresses the requirements for preaching prophetically during Sunday morning worship to a Black, middle-class congregation, and aims to show that preaching for prophetic witness can be used as a means of inspiring a congregation that identifies itself as Black middle-class to reach out fully to its marginalized community.

From Sitting Around the Table to Setting the Table A New Approach to Church Council Meetings

Author
Eric C Schlichting
Abstract
Stepping into leadership on a church council is a challenging calling. This project demonstrates that the ministry of worship can be used to offer church council members a more clearly focused and more richly rewarding experience of serving in leadership. This intervention introduced a format for meetings based on a pattern for worship, and through mixed-methods research, affirmed that a meeting modeled on worship improves council members' sense of purpose, sense of effectiveness and sense of satisfaction.

Relational Church Planting A Study of Newly Started United Methodist Churches Utilizing the Relational Principles and Practices of Community Organizing

Author
Curtis D Brown
Abstract
Using their training in community organizing, especially the practice of relational meetings and the principle of relational power, along with an emphasis on relational theology, new church pastors are evolving out of missional church theology a new relational church planting methodology. This study explores how this emerging church planting method is being used to involve previously unchurched people into new congregations. From the results of observations and interviews with pastors and participants in three new United Methodist churches, the research concludes that relational church planting methods build experiences of trust and inclusion that are important in involving previously unchurched people.
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