Project Documents

Date of Award

1999

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Douglas R. Kilcher

Second Advisor

R. Clifford Jones

Third Advisor

Eduard Schmidt

Abstract

This dissertation evaluates a program that was developed for the retention of new members in the New Jerusalem Seventh-day Adventist Church. One of the greatest needs of new Christians is help in establishing a meaningful relationship within the body of Christ. The church, not the new converts, is primarily responsible for the process of assimilation. Two strategies were implemented at the New Jerusalem Church: 1. A study was conducted to analyze the growth pattern of the church for the past ten years. Two groups of members were surveyed— those baptized within the past eighteen Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. months and have left the church and those baptized during the same period and still actively involved in the church. The result of this survey laid the foundation for the implementation of the second strategy. 2. A new paradigm for membership assimilation was outlined and implemented in three phases: Phase 1. Pre-assimilation phase which was all the activities, ministries, and interactions between members and non-members prior to baptism Phase 2 . Membership phase which dealt with significance of church membership, involvement, and expectations of both old and new members Phase 3 . Post-assimilation phase which focuses specifically on the spiritual growth and maturity of the new converts. The church can be very meaningful in the assimilation process of the new converts when it is actually practicing congregational love of sharing, suffering, and discipleship. To make the project more practical an assimilation model was developed with five levels. The real purpose of the model was to take an individual through various stages of the assimilation process to the point of becoming a serviceable Christian for Christ. We must always be aware of one fact: evangelism is an incomplete process until the evangelized becomes the evangelizer. The findings from the research and the practical experience of the project suggest that the church needs to Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. re-evaluate its evangelism relative to the growth and stability of the new converts. What goes on in the lives of the new converts after baptism is of equal importance as what goes on before. A knowledge of Christianity and all lifestyle changes are taught prior to baptism, but from practical assumptions, all lifestyle changes occur after baptism and church membership. The project had a great impact on the New Jerusalem Seventh-day Adventist Church. There are visible, measurable improvements such as: increased attendance, increased financial giving, and more laity involvement in outreach ministries. It is my hope that this dissertation can be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the local and global church in the entire process of evangelism. It is also my hope that the results of the dissertation can be used as a resource for strengthening this vital aspect of our evangelistic efforts.

Subject Area

Church membership, Church growth--Seventh-day Adventists

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