Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
Phillip Carnes, DMin
Phil Newell, DMin
Negativity is contributing to the numerical decline of the Christian church in America. Dogmatism, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, and pessimism have added to the image problem that repels pre-Christians. The common self-critiquing statement of many Christians, that Christianity has become known more for what it is against than what it is for, identifies part of the error that has led to the image problem that burdens the Christian church, but it stops short of diagnosing the full spectrum of the limiting effects of negativity.
In vision-casting, tone matters, and it’s difficult to trust a sinking ship. Reversing the judgmental and pessimistic tone of the Christian church will lead to a decline in the number of people who fear rejection from the church and a decline in the expectation that the world will be destroyed before long-term discipleship strategies can work. The positivity that results will produce energy and growth. Optimism is an effective tool in accomplishing goals, and it is an attribute of successful Christian evangelists.
Pessimism and cynicism have put Christians at a disadvantage in the competition for souls, but the church is not dying. Worldwide, the church is growing, and it will continue to grow. Despite the damaging effects of the widespread adoption of dispensationalism, Christians have reason to be optimistic about the potential of an American, Christian revival. This work will make the case that optimism for the future of the Christian church is both warranted and beneficial. It will do so by examining the ideas and events that have caused pessimism to grow, the effects of pessimism on the church, the current evangelistic success of Christianity in America, the readiness for young people to adopt the mission associated with the gospel message, and the intrinsic benefits of optimism itself.
Wilson, Michael L., "Optimism For Church Growth: Encouraging Lessons From Christian Revivalists For Generations Primed to Flourish" (2019). Doctor of Ministry. 295.