Project Documents

Date of Award

1978

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Donald G. Jacobsen

Second Advisor

Lawrence T. Geraty

Third Advisor

Robert M. Johnston

Abstract

Problem

There are some Seventh-day Adventist Church members who, because of mileage distance or other geographic reason, are unable to attend a local church regularly, and whose membership is listed on the conference church roll. If the church is to minister to all its members, this segment cannot be ignored. The geographically isolated members have received very little pastoral nurture, and they have experienced only limited fellowship. As a result, generally they have maintained a weakened connection with the church at large. Because the seventh- day Sabbath is a central aspect of belief and worship practice, it is meaningful for Seventh-day Adventists to find fellowship with those of like faith.

Method

The intent of this project was to explore the needs of, and possibilities of ministry to, geographically isolated Seventh-day Adventists in Indiana, United States of America, and Ontario, Canada. A theology of the church must not exclude those who are unable to participate in corporate worship. The biblical understanding of the believer as a priest and the church as a ministry community is essential when the geographically isolated are considered. A questionnaire was used to gather data concerning the environment and indicators of spirituality of the group. From this a membership profile emerged. It was then determined that a brief pastoral nurture process should be undertaken in an endeavor to enrich their spirituality. A three-lesson Bible correspondence course on spiritual gifts was developed and given to a selected sample. Shortly after the completion of this course, the first part of the questionnaire was readministered, and there was found to be only a slight increase in spirituality (.09) .

Recommendations

A program of pastoral nurture is needed to involve the isolated more personally in the life and mission of the church. The project suggested the following for a developing ministry: (1) a "pastor to the isolated" should be appointed to care for the personal and spiritual needs of the isolated; (2) his responsibilities would include those of a local church pastor, adapted to the isolated's environment; (3) methods would need to be employed so that this ministry is personalized to each isolated member; (4) an annual retreat exclusively for the isolated should be conducted; (5) brief correspondence courses should be available; (6) a cassette ministry should be available; (7) assistance should be given for Christian education; and (8) witnessing training should be offered.

Subject Area

Church work; Church attendance

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