Project Documents

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

James Wibberding

Second Advisor

Robert Moon

Third Advisor

James J. North, Jr.

Abstract

Problem. The Mt. Moriah and South 18th Street Seventh-day Adventist Churches, located in Coffeyville and Independence, Kansas, had not experienced membership growth in the ten years of 1987-1997. These two churches were part of a three-church district, which also included a church 145 miles away in Springfield, MO. That church was active in developing outreach and evangelistic strategies whereas the Kansas churches were not. The two Kansas churches were headed toward closing due to stagnation. Unless revitalization and consistent leadership training took place, a turnaround would never happen for these two small churches.

Method. This project explored the Coffeyville and Independence churches’ lack of evangelistic strategies, conducted a survey of the two communities’ felt needs, and applied 31 contemporary evangelistic methods as the antidote for the problems of these churches. This study also took into account the churches’ demographics and their cultural, religious, and economic conditions. In order to develop these methods, this project used the examples set forth by the New Testament model of disciple making, the examples set forth by the Rabbi-discipleship experience, and the mandate of the Great Commission. This mandate taught that once a believer was baptized he/she must be instructed in all that Christ taught. His teachings included the manner in which disciples should do disciple making. The “pastor and teacher” of the biblical model was to help church members develop and use their talents and spiritual gifts to be new-disciplemakers. This was the method followed.

Results. Upon implementation of the 31 evangelistic methods and strategies, the churches’ membership increased over six years (1997-2003) from 4 to 95 persons. Based on this large increase, the project was successful. The two Seventh-day Adventist churches also had a remarkable impact on their communities.

Solutions. The outcome of the methods used to revitalize the two Kansas churches demonstrated the power of Christ’s methods and the New Testament principles of church building and maintenance. The members of the project churches perceived a tendency of the Conference to focus on larger churches while ignoring the challenges of their small churches. There is reason to believe that the “small church decline syndrome” of many Adventist churches in North America is a result of not implementing strategies for continually helping small churches develop and grow. Critical to this challenge in all churches of every size, is the need for a greater emphasis on Christ’s expectation that each disciple/member will become a disciple maker. Challenges often represent opportunities. A great opportunity in the Adventist church is to focus on how each member can be active in disciple making. The development of systematic approaches for pastors to help members use their talents for disciple making may be the single most important solution to empowering churches of every size. Learning to better follow Christ’s approaches is the solution to many problems.

Subject Area

Church growth--Kansas--Seventh-day Adventists., Church renewal--Kansas--Seventh-day Adventists.

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