Project Documents

Date of Award

2015

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Ron du Preez

Second Advisor

Hyveth Williams

Abstract

Problem

Personal observations while serving as a pastor and evangelist indicate a need for more effective and persuasive appeals for decisions following sermons. This is especially important when preaching the distinctive truths of the Seventh-day Adventist church. It is both a challenging and rewarding segment of my own preaching experience. For this reason it is my desire to improve on the delivery of appeals by including "prophetic preaching" strategies for reaching the heart issues that most concern those attending the Discover Revelation seminar that I present as an evangelist for the Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Method

This project was a comparative study of persuasive appeals for decision on distinctive Seventh-day Adventist beliefs. Distinctive beliefs that are part of this project are Salvation/Baptism, Sabbath, Second Coming, State of the Dead, Remnant Church, and Sanctuary. Prophetic appeals for decision were compared to traditional story appeals for these distinctive beliefs during two evangelistic series conducted in Holland and Cadillac, Michigan from July to November 2014. A qualitative evaluation using the focus group method was done following each of the two evangelistic series of presentations. Three separate groups met during August, September, and November 2014.

Results

Each of three focus groups related strong impressions regarding the persuasive preaching of appeals using the prophetic preaching style. They agreed that this was more persuasive compared to a traditional narrative story appeal for the close of the messages. There was concern that the prophetic preaching style had potential to alienate listeners, particularly those who could be struggling with an issue the researcher addressed. Out of three groups, one person, referring to one of these presentations, said that he/she disliked that one prophetic preaching appeal and that it did nothing for him/her. Three out of 17 focus group members expressed concern about the direct nature of the issues addressed. Of the three, no one expressed that he/she was offended. None mentioned that he/she knew of anyone who took offence. One respondent in each focus group expressed this concern unprompted by the researcher. In one focus group, a respondent not of our faith, after expressing this concern, indicated that one prophetic appeal in particular caused his/her decision for Christ. Both styles of appeals were well received. Respondents felt the prophetic style impressed attendees more due to the relevant current issues challenged by prophetic preaching. It was stronger, more distinctive. A potential weakness expressed by two was that more sympathy for those dealing with issues confronted was needed.

Conclusions

In preaching this style of appeal, it is important to exegete the audience and know their issues. It is essential to make the whole message Christ-centered and biblically presented. It is important to express empathy and sympathy in dealing with the issues. In speaking truth to power, we need to realize the weakness of individuals and be compassionate. We must include hope and the fact that Christ is the answer. There were favorable results when compared to preaching in a non-prophetic preaching style. Approximately 14% and 23% of initial non-Adventists in attendance were baptized after six weeks. The potential stands, three months after the evangelistic meetings, for 30% to 60% of the opening attendance to be baptized as new members. This research was well received by both a small and medium-sized congregation in the Michigan Conference.

Subject Area

Preaching, Seventh-day Adventists--Doctrines, Michigan Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

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