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

Stan Patterson

Second Advisor

Kathleen Beagles

Third Advisor

Steven Wilsey

Abstract

Problem

Shortly after arriving as the new pastor of the Wanamaker church I noticed the appearance of spiritual immaturity and disunity among members and stress between members and leaders. People gave time and talent to the church, yet complained about each other’s actions. It seemed that misperceptions of self, others, and God among members blocked spiritual development toward the maturity and unity that Christ prayed for (John 17). The root of the problem seemed to be perceptual. A developmental program was needed that would be accessible to people across the broad spectrum of understanding and move them toward Christian maturity and unity.

Method

Working from a foundation that the Bible is the word of God, and that reflecting on Scripture increases spiritual growth at every stage of Christian maturity (Hawkins, 2011), I developed a pilot study for facilitating reflection on Scripture for spiritual growth. Specifically, my focus was to advance participant understanding of self, God, and others from a biblical perspective, in hopes of increasing maturity and unity in Christ. The pilot study consisted of five weekly units. Each unit included sermon viewing and a class that reflected on the sermon theme using material from the Bible, social sciences, and biographies. Further reflection opportunities were offered through writing awakening narratives that were later condensed into poems. Assessment of the program involved quantitative and qualitative data.

Results

Ten students signed up for the program and one dropped out after the first class. Poetry writing showed significant cognitive and emotional reflection and transformation in the seven students that turned in a poem. A self-administered questionnaire averaged middle to high levels of change in perception of self, God, and others among participants. A second part of the questionnaire monitored attentiveness to attendance and assignments. Lower scores on attentiveness contrasted with higher scores on perspective transformation indicating the potency of even minimal reflection on personal experience from a biblical perspective for a transformative experience.

Conclusion

This study supports the thesis that reflecting on personal experience from a biblical perspective increases understanding of self, God, and others potentially contributing toward the maturity and unity that Christ desired. Furthermore, the fact that each student experienced an increased desire to read the Bible increases the likelihood that they will continue to reflect on personal life experience from a biblical perspective and continue to grow. It is expected that such an ongoing experience will foster relational maturity and unity in the Wanamaker church with the intent that the intervention process of the project will continue and that observations of the impact on the church will be noted.

Subject Area

Self-consciousness (Awareness)--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Spirituality--Seventh-day Adventists; Spiritual life--Seventh-day Adventists; Topeka Wanamaker Seventh-day Adventist Church (Topeka, Kans.)

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.32597/dmin/445/

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