Project Documents

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Stanley E. Patterson

Second Advisor

Alanzo Smith

Third Advisor

Nilson Ferreira

Abstract

Problem. The Dunamis Seventh-day Adventist Church has evolved from a church that, historically, was passionately spiritual and nurturing to one that seems to have lost its sense of identity and mission. The result is an inertia that manifests itself in a breakdown in communication, the inability to translate the gospel into the “language” of the community, and a general decline in spiritual commitment. Although some progress has been made in the recent past, there is still a gap between missional demands and practice. This appears to be symptomatic of the deeper issue of failing to experience the meaning of discipleship at the personal level.

Method. This research investigated discipleship, while employing current literature, the Bible, and supporting citations from the writings of Ellen White. These were selected for their substantial offerings and their relevance. The discipleship principles of relationship, teaching, and maturity were established with special attention given to Old Testament and New Testament nuances. Particular attention was given to Jesus’ emphasis on relationships. By extension, the family as the primary unit for the development of meaningful relationships was considered and developed not just as an illustration, but as a sample of an intentional and preemptive approach. A series of five sermons, as well as a seminar consisting of five presentations, was employed to educate and motivate the membership toward a better understanding of how to experience true discipleship. This was accompanied by a brief survey to establish the members’ perception of their spiritual maturity. The results were collated, analyzed, and used to inform the formulation of an appropriate strategy.

Results. It was determined that the most urgent and foundational need of the Dunamis Seventh-day Adventist Church was for the members to establish consistent personal Bible study and meaningful prayer life. This would establish the basis for pursuing the missional mandate. Discipleship was established as the natural model for developing and deepening a relationship with Christ in an effort to build up the kingdom of God. The insights gained were helpful in the realization of better relationships among members and an increase in membership, as well.

Conclusions. Living as Jesus lived is God’s intent for every human. Therefore, knowing him at the deepest level is of paramount importance. This is not just a mandate for all, but the privilege of all. This research has led to the conclusion that any strategy for church growth, both organically and numerically, must have at its center a strategy of discipleship. A discipleship-based church defines and distinguishes both the quality of being and the reason for being. This means having meaningful relationships with God and man and fulfilling the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19, 20. This is achieved through the transforming power of Christ. The discipleship process is initiated through Christ and is maintained by him. The disciples’ response involves total surrender and commitment. This results in the practical outcomes of transformed homes and churches through experiencing revitalization and renewal at all levels.

Subject Area

Discipling (Christianity), Church growth--Seventh-day Adventists

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