Congregations, Reformed

The Practice of Pastoral Care in the Local Church : Equipping Officers, Staff, and Small Group Leaders

Author
Michael T Boulware
Abstract
The project addresses the need to equip untrained leaders in the local church whom the church is asking to offer pastoral care to the people of God. It begins with an examination of the biblical calling of the leaders as officers, staff members, or small group leaders. It lays a biblical foundation of how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is central to understanding and practicing pastoral care. Next, it examines the Law of God as a principle filter through which all pastoral counsel must pass, and explores how such a filter cannot discount the importance of the cultivation of relationships.

Local churches in global missions: developing a strategic plan to help Christian Reformed churches to engage in international missions

Author
Steven J Van Zanen
Abstract
The thesis of this project is that mission agencies must respond to the felt needs of congregational leaders in order to move the whole church toward international mission engagement. Sixty pastors were surveyed using a random sample of Christian Reformed Church pastors to ascertain what their congregations most needed in order to do international missions well, resulting in a strategic plan to serve congregations. A number of key findings were: that pastors believe their congregations need communication from missionaries, connecting to them, improved relationships between their churches and communities overseas, learning-and-doing opportunities and help connecting global and local mission.

Renewing our vows to the neighborhood: purpose, pitfalls and possibilities

Author
Blaine C Newhouse
Abstract
The conviction that inspires this project is that God desires to see all churches prevail. Unfortunately, churches in transitioning neighborhoods struggle predictably with how best to respond to the unique challenges and opportunities presented by changing demographics. The project grows out of the experiences of a local congregation, Calvary Reformed Church, Holland, Michigan over an eight year period. This project shows that is is possible/preferable for an established congregation to embrace a community undergoing economic, ethnic or cultural change. Central to this process is a commitment to respond proactively to change while people, financial and spiritual resources are in greater supply - to implement a thoughtful and strategic plan to leverage these resources and remain a positive kingdom presence in the community.

Living into a vision: a case study of Riverview Park Reformed Church

Author
Rodney D Veldhuizen
Abstract
This is a case study of one congregation, the Riverview Park Reformed Church. The focus of the study is how the congregation moved from being a divided and conflicted community to a community that is growing and vital. The perspective that is taken in this study is a systems approach that sees the church as much more than the sum of its parts and examines how various systems came together to promote health or dysfunction. This case study revealed that church revitalization is complex dynamic that requires more than a programmatic approach. Findings supported in this study are: 1) Understanding the history of both congregation and leadership is important for church health. 2) The mix of positive and negative influences that shape a congregation and its leadership and their interplay need to be understood in any process of health and revitalization. 3) The process of moving toward health is more important than the program used. 4) Before a congregation or pastor can become healthy it is imperative that both understand their past and the factors that both helped and hindered their development.

Ministering toward congregational maturity: a reformed perspective

Author
Thomas P Eggebeen
Abstract
The purpose of the thesis is to provide: 1) insights into the relevance of the Reformed tradition for congregational life; 2) examples and analysis of programs useful in creating a Reformed consciousness; and 3) a critique of fundamentalism. The focus of each chapter is as follows: 1) the theology and practice of infant baptism as the beginning point of a Reformed ministry; 2) spiritual confidence as the chief result of living within the Reformed tradition; 3) the reality and function of doubt within the believer's life; and 4) basic thoughts for Reformed spirituality.

Synodical authority and congregational diversity in the Christian Reformed Church

Author
Dennis W Boonstra
Abstract
Church polity issues of unity, authority, and diversity are addressed from a historical perspective. The developing diversity of an originally Dutch group is described, incidents within the last one hundred years in which some churches have resisted the imposition of uniform practices are explored, and ways of exercising authority which will tend toward maintaining unity among increasingly diverse churches are suggested. This material was presented to a class whose participants were members of a congregation which wishes to ordain persons not now eligible under the denominational church order. The project was intended to make them more effective in their engagement in this conflict.
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