Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
The dissertation asserts that Christ-focused small groups, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, can be a primary means of spiritual transformation while developing a sense of belonging in the Body of Christ. Without these small groups, public Christian worship can be little more than sentimentality. The term, small groups, describes small gatherings of Christ’s followers who “watch over one another in love that they may help each other to work out their salvation.”
Section 1 introduces the topic of a disconnect between the Church’s promise to be a transforming community and the spiritual emptiness and loneliness asserted by many. Three challenges addressed regarding small groups are: inadequate time, why face-to-face time given the abundance of electronic connections, and resistance to small groups by some. Section 2 evaluates four of the plethora of small group training materials and explains their shortcomings when measured against the distinctives of Acts 2:42-47. Section 3 examines four major influences that shaped John Wesley, this dissertation’s primary mentor on small groups. These influences are: Wesley’s realization of how much God loved him, Wesley’s spiritual and secular environment, the history of small groups, and individuals whose views on small groups influenced him. Wesley’s concept directs this dissertation and forms the template that guides spiritual transformation and nurtures biblical community. Sections 4 and 5 describe the purpose and specifications of the Artifact. The Artifact distinction is found in its focus on spiritual transformation that should take place in the untidiness of relationships rather than just providing more information, education, or social experiences. Section 6 suggests uses for the Artifact.
Marshall, Robert, "Spiritual Renovation through Accountability: A Contemporary Look at John Wesley's Class Meeting and his Admonition to Watch over one Another in Love" (2016). Doctor of Ministry. 205.