Re-Discovering Intentional Use of the Church Covenant as the Basis for Self-Identity in a Congregational Church Community
Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry (DMin)
This dissertation seeks to awaken a clear identity of a Congregational Church as an intentional covenanted community by rediscovering a practical theology founded in the idea of covenant and exploring the praxis of covenant implementation in community. Rediscovering this identity involves the exploration of biblical, historical, theological, and Congregational concepts of covenant. In response to the lack of self-identity, the project proposes the application of covenant to community to enable the church to be empowered to practice living, adapting, loving, and serving the community in which it exists. The problem is revealed in a semi-fictional narrative of a Congregational Church in chapter 1. Preliminary definitions of community, covenant, and praxis are presented. The thesis and plan of approach are outlined. The second chapter explores the concept of community in Scripture. Metaphors, remembering practices, and didactic tools are extracted from the biblical narrative. Chapter 3 discusses covenant as it relates to community. A survey of the Scriptural covenants yields insight into the implications of living in covenant community. Chapter 4 shows the shift from community to institution in church history. Creeds, bishops, apostolic succession, and papal hierarchy replace the "covenantal glue" that binds the community together with external power and control. The fifth chapter explores covenant community from a theological perspective which undergirds the importance of theological reflection. Chapter 6 explores the Congregational Way. A historical survey is presented emphasizing the importance of covenant and its decline in Congregational Churches. Chapter 7 explores the praxis of covenant community and how intentional use of covenant impacts the functions of the church. Reflections of the student regarding the project's insights have impacted his own ministry are followed with four suggestions to begin the praxis of intentional covenanted community. The concluding chapter reviews the findings and suggests areas for continued research.
Hartley, Richard Scott, "Re-Discovering Intentional Use of the Church Covenant as the Basis for Self-Identity in a Congregational Church Community" (2009). Doctor of Ministry. 510.