Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
H. Colleen Butcher, DMin
Kory Knott, DMin
Leonard I. Sweet, PhD
In the postmodern world, the local church has experienced significant decline as Christendom gives way to a more secular culture. Many shrinking denominational churches have missed imaginative opportunities and practices to produce multiplying disciples. This dissertation explores how declining denominational churches can embrace new opportunities for flourishing in a postmodern context through the development of a culture of multiplying discipleship. History—through examples such as the early church and Wesleyan movements—has shown that multiplying discipleship movements are possible in cultures not familiar with the Gospel. Such movements reveal new possibilities produced through the tension found between more formational offices of teaching, shepherding, and prophesying and more generative offices of apostleship and evangelism. Such a tension can be labeled as “gathered” and a “sent” forms of church existing simultaneously. By reclaiming this tension exhibited in the past, an imaginative stimulus for multiplying discipleship may be found for today and into the future.
Section one explores the history and dynamics of the wicked problem of experiencing multiplying discipleship in a changing world in local church settings. Section two unpacks other United Methodist Church curricula approaches for multiplying discipleship and notes how these approaches focus primarily upon a “gathered only” church mindset. Section three explores how multiplying discipleship occurred in the early church and the Wesleyan movement. This section identifies key APEST elements found simultaneously in formational (teaching, shepherding, prophesying) and generative (apostleship, evangelism) offices in both time periods. By applying these gathered and sent elements in today’s local churches, new multiplying discipleship opportunities emerge. Section four describes the artifact, which is a curriculum of a four-step, repeating process to be completed at the participant’s initiative. Section five articulates the specifications of the artifact. Section six summarizes the learning I have experienced from this project, along with new questions raised for future exploration.
Lake, Matthew, "Reclaiming a Multiplying Discipleship: Fostering the Dance of the Gathered and Sent Church" (2020). Seminary Doctoral Programs. 379.