Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
A new pastor is called and excitement is high. Both the pastor and the congregation begin this joumey with high hopes and expectations. Yet too often things get off track quickly and people are left wondering what happened and why aren't things going in the direction we hoped?
The problem comes from a failure to understand the unique nature of a faith community. Understanding the nature includes an understanding of the roles of and the relationship between values, vision and mission in charting a course to the future of their ministry together. This failure in understanding also presents itself when a congregation wants to continue effective mission and ministry and seeks to respond to the changes in their surrounding community.
What is needed is a guided process to help in the transition that any congregation goes through with the arrival of a new pastor or when a congregation attempts to transition into ministry to the emerging culture.
To address this problem, we propose a process by which pastor and people together may discover the basis for Christian community and common values. Through this process, they can develop a common unifying vision, one that will serve to bind them together in community. Once the common values and vision are identified, the third part of the process will focus on developing strategic planning which will guide the congregation in it ongoing mission.
In chapter two, we present biblical materials, which show that congregations have unifying qualities and reasons for being. Then, in chapter three, we present materials from Christian history and thought that demonstrate the role of the apostle/church planter in developing community in the early church.
In chapter four, we will examine the causes that lead to the reduction from five offices to one leading to the shift from an emphasis on mission and new community formation to a focus on maintenance with the acceptance of Christianity as the state religion in the western world. The fifth chapter will present materials from current research and thought which show that since the demise of Christendom congregations have been forced to recognize the need to return to a mission emphasis.
Chapter six explores current research and thinking in the fields of biology, sociology, and psychology regarding the nature of "bonding agents" in community and social interactions (that is, what holds communities together). Then, in chapter seven, we present materials from research and thought in theology, which show other alternatives to congregational renewal and revitalization.
Finally, we present our solution, which is a simple ongoing approach to recovering and reinstituting the biblical precepts underlying the nature and purpose of the church creating a vision for a positive future in the local congregation along with the tools to move the congregation into that future.
Pierce, Earl J., "WWW.Church: Consulting with 19th and 20th Century Congregations in a 21st Century World" (2005). Doctor of Ministry. 169.