Project Documents

Date of Award

2009

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Benjamin D. Schoun

Second Advisor

Jon L. Dybdahl

Third Advisor

Russell Burrill

Abstract

Problem. Adventist churches in China do not operate under a denominational structure. As the government continues to open more churches, an increasing number of people become Adventists every day. Because of the fast growing pace of many churches in the past three decades, not much attention has been given to the health and quality aspect of church life. Therefore, the question of how to help the church to grow and to become healthy has become an urgent matter.

Purpose. The purpose of this project is to develop and implement a strategy to improve the health of the Ciba Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southwest China by applying Christian Schwarz’s Natural Church Development (NCD) principles in the context of Chinese Seventh-day Adventism and the local culture.

Method. The methodology was to use NCD to profile the Ciba church in southwest China and to identify its minimum factor, the lowest score among the eight quality characteristics of NCD. Attention would be given to the special context of the Chinese Adventist Church and Chinese culture in regard to NCD principles. One year after Ciba has worked on its minimum factor, a second profile would be done to compare with the first, and the result would be documented in this project.

Result. Holistic Small Groups was found to be the minimum factor as the result of the first profile. Strategies were developed to increase this quality characteristic. However, the result of the second church profile showed little improvement of the minimum factor.

Conclusions. Looking back at the results of the two church profiles and development and implementation of the strategies, it is still too early to tell if NCD principles can be useful in China. But I do believe NCD is a good measuring tool to help the Ciba church to identify its weaknesses. The potential that this experience may have a bigger impact in China lies in the fact that the Ciba church members were willing to put themselves to the test. As they share what they learned with Adventists in other parts of China, the possibility of raising awareness of the importance of a healthy church is very promising.

Subject Area

Church development, New--China--Seventh-day Adventists, Church growth--China--Seventh-day Adventists

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