Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
The local Christian congregation is remarkably active. Pastors serve the congregation in a variety of roles. Church leaders meet to plan so that tasks, funds and activities are properly ordered. Church members participate in the various ministries and opportunities offered. Citizens of the local community take advantage of programs designed for them. Christian congregations, sometimes called "religious malls," are busy.
Yet, with all the activity, church members still come and go, complain about the decisions being made, resist changes in their "religious tradition," struggle with various addictions, expect more than is being provided, and wonder how Christianity relates to their everyday world. The list could go on. Apparently, all of the activity is not producing the kind of people who celebrate Life in Christ and who live his life in their personal and communal lives.
The problem comes from the failure to focus congregational efforts on the goals and processes that develop people so that the "image of Christ" is reflected in their lives. Much effort is poured into running the activities of the local church, but little focus is on mentoring the personal and communal transformation Jesus anticipated for his people.
What is needed is for local congregations to invest their resources in the processes of intentional discipleship, pursuing the "preferred future" of "making disciples" in keeping with the practice of Jesus- immersion into the Trinitarian Presence and Reality.
To address this problem, we propose a process to immerse Christians into the Trinitarian Presence within, throughout and beyond local congregations. As part of the process, the "goal" of Christian spiritual formation will be carefully established and clearly communicated. Then, with a renewed understanding of the goal, the appropriate processes of achieving the goal will be properly identified and practically implemented.
In chapter two, we present biblical materials that show the practices of Jesus as he intentionally developed disciples. He will be the Teacher providing practical insight into the "Trinitarian immersion" intended for his followers.
In chapter three, we will search for spiritually formative insights gleaned from various strands within the Lutheran tradition.
In chapter four, we will explore the disciple-making goal and processes of a chosen mentor to this project: Dr. Dallas Willard.
In chapter five, we will explore the goal and processes for learning relationships in the emerging culture from another selected mentor: Dr. Leonard Sweet.
Finally, we present our solution, which is a practical, reproducible pattern for the spiritual formation - Trinitarian immersion - of the people within and beyond the Christian communities of the future.
Henningfield, Craig W., "Intentional Discipleship: Spiritual Formation as Trinitarian Immersion for the 21st Century" (2006). Doctor of Ministry. 191.