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

Charles W. Drake, III

Second Advisor

Yohuru Williams

Third Advisor

Richard Sylvester

Abstract

Problem

According to the Pew Study (2009), the majority of African Americans are Protestants (78%) as compared to 51% of the United States population as a whole. However, African American men (16%) are more likely than African American women (9%) to be unaffiliated with any religion. The Pew Study also noted that nearly one-in-five African Americans under age 30 (19%) are unaffiliated with any religion. Pastoral observation further reveals a disproportionate number of women attending regular church services compared to men at Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church. This is a historical problem not only with the Bethel Church, but also in many churches across denominational communities. The consequence of a large imbalance in the ratio of men-to-women within the congregation presents a need for a ministry directed toward reaching men, especially within the urban context.

Purpose

The purpose of this project is to identify a prescriptive approach in relationship authoring among African American men. Utilizing a small group of men who are members of Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church, it is desired that in the formulation of authentic male relationships, church growth will be a by-product of friendship evangelism. Additionally, men within Bethel church will experience deeper, more meaningful relationships with one another and be able to disciple other men in relationship-building experiences.

Method

In order to create a robust healthy church environment of African American (AA) men, male members of Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church (BSDAC) were invited to participate in an intervention project. This proposed project involved a process of establishing a curriculum for training, discipling, and integrating men into a community of authentic relationship building (ARB). Participants were asked to journal their experience, views, and reflections of Bible studies, socials, community engagement, and outreach opportunities. The journals would be part of the process of compiling and evaluating a qualitative research strategy that also included interviews of participants.

Result

The project was successful in partially completing the task I originally desired. However, my expectation regarding church growth was not realized in the outcomes. I believe the main factor affecting this was the length of time needed to develop trusting and equitable friendships with men outside the church, so that participants could then invite them to a church encounter. The interviews and reflections of participants indicate the men experienced the following: a) Increased sensitivity to personal reflection in relationship authoring; b) Increased priority to build relationships; c) Greater awareness of male leadership; and d) Clear opposition to journaling.

Conclusion

This project has demonstrated that there is no one method for achieving a greater representation of African American men in churches. It can, perhaps, be used in conjunction with a number of other intentional initiatives to reach the objectives set forth by a congregation to grow male participation in church, as well as enrich the relational lives of men already in attendance. Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church has the potential to be a groundbreaking congregation in Kansas City, Kansas, that reaches out to African American men. Considering the population of men in the community and the dearth of churches with a specific initiative to invest in this community, makes it a church with no rival in ministering to men.

Subject Area

African Americans--Religion, African Americans--Religious life, African American Men, Bethel Seventh-day Adventist Church (Kansas City, Kans.)

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