Project Documents

Date of Award

1981

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Arnold A. Kurtz

Second Advisor

Raoul F. Dederen

Third Advisor

Roy C. Naden

Abstract

Historically the Seventh-day Adventist Church has been a mission-oriented movement. In harmony with this emphasis church planting is beginning to gain a higher p rio rity in some parts of North America. Very little evidence has been gathered, however, which supports this practice as being an effective means of evangelism. Furthermore, v irtu a lly no guidance has been offered to local SDA churches explaining why church planting should be considered or how it should be accomplished.

Empirical data are gathered from various denominations, including the Adventist denomination, regarding the relationship of new church development and membership growth. With positive correlations confirming the place of this practice in a comprehensive plan for evangelism in North America, the report then seeks to develop a strategy which would be helpful for those who will be engaged in this ministry. In order to gain the necessary insights for a holistic and effective approach to church planting two studies are conducted. The first is a description of church growth as recorded in the biblical book of Acts. The second is an analysis and a critique of an actual church-planting experience, the organization of the Spokane South Hill SDA Church, according to "church growth" lite ra tu re . The principles gained from these two studies provide the framework for a proposed strategy for the placement and development of new congregations in North America.

The strategy is designed to be of primary value for those churches which have memberships of 250 or more. The report contends that churches of this size can plant a church by sending a group of dedicated members, approximately fifty , to help form a nucleus for the new church—thereby providing an immediate presence for evangelism and nurture. The strategy is designed to facilitate this process by preparing the mother church theologically and missionally for the eventual church planting. The organizational aspects are then dealt with which lead to the actual formation of the new church. To accentuate the on-going process, flow charts have been prepared to relate the parts to the whole. A theological rationale for this process is presented as an extension of a shared ministry of reconciliation which is also characterized as an incarnational ministry for specific communities and "people groups." The joint roles of the clergy and the laity are integrated in both parts of the strategy. Some general recommendations are made which are directed towards creating a more intentional climate for church planting in North America.

Subject Area

Church growth--North America--Seventh-day Adventists

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