Project Documents

Date of Award

1997

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

James J. North, Jr.

Second Advisor

Douglas Kilcher

Third Advisor

Alfonso Valenzuela

Abstract

Problem

Divorces and separations have proliferated in Adventist churches. This project studied the ministry of churches to marriages. Were members' marriages in need? was the church presently being helpful to the marriages of its members? Would the model of a marriage support group put forward by the researcher be helpful to marriages?

Method

The Dyadic Adjustment Scale was used to survey 600 randomly selected married people from the Anglo churches of the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. The thirty-two-question scale measured four characteristics of marriage: satisfaction, cohesion, consensus, and affection. An additional section evaluated the church's ministry to their marriages. The pastors were also surveyed regarding specific methods they had employed to minister to members' marriages and were asked to rate the perceived effectiveness of their efforts. A marriage support group was developed and implemented in my church for three months. At the end of that time, the group members were administered the Dyadic Adjustment Scale which asked them to give two sets of scores: (1) one set of scores for the quality of their marriage then (January 1995); and (2) the other set of scores for their estimate of the quality of their marriage before they started the marriage support group (September 1994). They were also asked to evaluate the effectiveness of the marriage support group. The same scale was administered a year later (January 1996) to determine long-term results.

Results

No difference appeared between the Adventist Anglo population surveyed and the norms for the general population in terms of the four qualities of relationship that were measured. The laity differed from the perceptions of the pastors in that the laity did not rate as very helpful anything the church was doing to minister to their marriages. The marriage support group participants saw their scores for the Dyadic Adjustment Scale increase during the seven-session term. Their scores decreased, however, when they were tested a year later.

Conclusions

There is a need to minister to marriages in Anglo churches in the Southern California Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. Members rated the quality of their marriages as only "average." They do not feel they are being helped. The marriage support group model did work for a time to improve the quality of marriages.

Subject Area

Church work with married people--Seventh-day Adventists; Marrige compatiblity tests

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