Congregations, Presbyterian

The church in transition: equipping congregational leaders for missional discernment

Author
Kevin M Starcher
Abstract
This project explores the hypothesis that a meaningful grounding in theological thought will yield richer and nuanced understanding of congregational growth in a transitioning Christian society. The project consisted of intentional education, research and analysis of the intersections of evangelism, Family Systems Theory, Reformed theology, cultural exegesis, and Christian missiology, and used these understandings to explore and analyze growing Presbyterian (PCUSA) congregations in the American West. The results of this qualitative research indicated that project participants valued the process and felt the project was helpful for a congregation experiencing numeric/cultural transition.

A proposed dismissal process for PCUSA congregations seeking relief of conscience

Author
Patrick H McElroy
Abstract
Congregations with issues of conscience in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America need a gracious model for being dismissed to other denominations. This thesis explains the need and the theological implications of pursuing and implementing. It proposes and tests a model for a dismissal process and then evaluates that model. The model proposed consists of a four stage process: discernment, negotiation, dismissal, and reception. The thesis includes a case study on congregational anxiety using three congregations, one entering a discernment process, one amidst a discernment process and a third two years after being dismissed.

A prejudice investigated: why many Presbyterian churches in America and their congregants do not use written prayers and prayer liturgies in public and private worship and how it impoverishes the prayer life of the church

Author
Larry R Elenbaum
Abstract
This thesis explores the reason Presbyterian Chruches In America and congregants in the Pittsburgh area have nout used written prayers and prayer liturgies in their public worship and private devotion. This work examines biblical prayer in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as investigates the history of prayer practice in the Presbyterian polity. The writer begins with a presupposition that the prejudices against using the prayers of the ages have impoverished and hindered us from developing a continuity with the church of the past and has impeded the ability to learn to pray in a more Scriptural way.

Evaluating Stephen ministry training and identifying lay caregiver characteristics at Granada Presbyterian Church

Author
Zachary W Eswine
Abstract
In 2000, when Granada Presbyterian Church assessed the care needs of their church, they found a renewed awareness of the need for ministries of care to church members. With no curriculum or tools already in place to train and equip church members for this ministry, Stephen Ministry was suggested. To consider the place of Stephen Ministry in the context of Granada, a review of Stephen Ministry in relation to other potential training systems was conducted to shed light on its strengths and weaknesses. The studies served to confirm the choice of Stephen Ministry as the best system for Granada to use. Further, the studies brought to light the characteristics of Stephen Ministry so that the candidates suited for this ministry can be better identified and recruited.

Intentional interim pastors as biblical transitional leaders in Presbyterian Church U.S.A. congregations

Author
Lawrence Michael Maley
Abstract
In reviewing the use of interim pastors in modern churches, this dissertation examines the biblical, theological, and historical role of transitional leaders in the Christian church. It demonstrates how such leaders are gifted for extraordinary challenges as a result of their God-given charisma. It asserts the importance of transitional interim pastors in the PCUSA. This dissertation offers a resource for Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. congregations contemplating hiring an interim pastor. The resource explains the range of services interim pastors provide. The resource matches a congregation's spiritual, emotional, organizational, and leadership needs with the skills of a prospective interim pastor.

Pastor as peacemaker: twelve lectures for an m.div course in biblical conflict resolution

Author
Alfred J Poirier
Abstract
Pastor as peacemaker's overall objective is to equip seminary students studying for the pastorate to respond to conflict in their local church in a manner that is biblically wise, theologically Reformed, and ecclesiastically Presbyterian. Pastor as peacemaker is to be a program-centered project consisting of twelve written lectures intended for a one unit (12 hour) course to be taught as an interim course at a reformed seminary (e.g., a weeklong course, four days three hours per day). Research was three-fold: anaylsis of a biblical and theological doctrine of reconciliation, contemporary Alternative Dispute Resolution(ADR) theory and methods, and by way of student evaluation. The result was an effective theology and method of training pastors to be peacemakers in their churches. This research led to the publication of a book The Peacemaking Pastor, now in four languages: English, Korea, Spanish, Portuguese.

New structures for effectiveness in the Presbyterian session

Author
John E Schmidt
Abstract
This thesis-project examines the relationship of the numerical decline of denominational churches in contemporary American society and the lac of structural renewal in these churches. This thesis-project shows how changes were made to the session of a PC(USA) congregation to attempt to improve effectiveness, and a policy manual growing from that experience was disseminated to other church leaders for their opinions. The researcher presents a theological motivation for churches to pursue changes in the leadership structure of the session. After examining modern and postmodern paradigms, the writer asserts that accommodations to the modern paradigm do not meet the demands and expectations of ministry in a postmodern context. The writer then proposes missional values and structures to enhance the effectiveness of the local church in the postmodern context. A detailed case study shows that these structural changes increased the effectiveness of a local church's ministry, increased the satisfaction of its leaders, fit PC(USA) polity, and could be applied with profit in other church situations.

Live into hope: the presbytery as a partner with smaller membership congregations in the Presbytery of Geneva, New York

Author
Joelle S Davis
Abstract
The model of governing bodies within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) must be carefully examined in light of today's ministry needs. The relationship between smaller membership churches and the presbytery is of particular concern. The author used surveys and multiple intervention strategies with smaller membership congregations within the Presbytery of Geneva, New York. Her conclusions include that transformational leadership that promotes healthy, vital, and tranformed communities of faith is paramount. In addition, she found that the process of utilizing multiple strategies for engaging the smaller membership churches with the presbytery in a partnership model is an effective role for the presbytery.

Discovering Trinity's angel: the use of congregational formation narratives as a source of encouragement for change

Author
Timothy P Coombs
Abstract
This thesis examines how a ten-year ministry of biblical storytelling at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, New York, prepared the congregation to experience its own formative stories as a means of encouraging it to further its digital culture ministry. The congregational story project, entitled Discovering Trinity's Angel, entailed videotaping long-time members, sharing remembrances of the innovative ways the congregation communicated the gospel throughout its history. These stories were shown in worship throughout Lent, 2006, and were accompanied by presentations on the influence of media in biblical and church history. The impact of biblical storytelling and the Discovering Trinity's Angel project were measured by both survey and focus groups. The project found that by experiencing the stories of its past, the congregation understood the challenge to further develop its digital culture ministry as consistent with its historic identity and mission.

Forward in faith: congregational discernment and the model of the Peace, Unity, and Purity Taskforce of the Presbyterian Church (USA)

Author
Robert W Lowry
Abstract
The question of how to discern a vision for the future has been an issue for Presbyterian congregations. This report examines the process for visioning used in a particular church and considers the methodology used for discernment. It takes the Peace, Unity, and Purity Taskforce report and utilizes its principles in a congregational setting.
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