Project Documents

Date of Award

2008

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Gorden R. Doss

Second Advisor

Donald C. James

Third Advisor

Wagner Kuhn

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this dissertation is to develop a contextualized model for small group ministry in the North Zambia Field to enhance the retention of new members.

Statement of Problem

While the numbers of members being baptized annually are encouraging indeed, the percentage of members dropping out of the church annually is a cause of great concern. Between 1996 and 2006, the North Zambia Field, through baptism or profession of faith, had 72,652 converts, an annual average of 7,265 converts. However, 17,303 or 23.82 percent of those added and 2.70 percent of the total membership dropped out of the church through apostasy and going missing.1 This annual loss of church membership poses a serious problem for church growth. The largest number of members dropping out of the church in the North Zambia Field consists of newly baptized members brought into the church through various evangelistic activities. Many of these members coming into the church are unchurched or from different denominations in Zambia. When these new believers come into the Seventh-day Adventist church from such varying backgrounds, there is a great need for spiritual nurturing, training for discipleship, and pastoral care as they bond with established church members and develop a sense of belonging in their local church families. However, because so many people are baptized at short evangelistic efforts, without first being grounded in the practices and doctrines of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, many new members either return to a life without faith or return to their previous churches. Some of the reasons they give for dropping out of the Seventh-day Adventist Church include: lack of spiritual nurture, lack of discipleship training and lack of pastoral care to help them build relationships and bond with established church members. One way to address this problem is to encourage churches to form small groups to spiritually nurture, train for discipleship, and provide pastoral care to help new members to assimilate.

Methodology

The resources used in doing this research come from the James White Library at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan. Other sources also include the Bible, the writings of Ellen G. White, certain officials of the North Zambia Field Office, and the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church website statistics for the Zambia Union Conference. In view of the fact that the researcher lived in the United States of America from 2003-2008, some of the research data was obtained by telephone interviews with people living in Zambia at the time. The interviews attempted to find out why the new members drop out of the church in the North Zambia Field-especially members who come into the church through evangelistic efforts. Research data was also collected from North Zambia Field departmental directors’ records such as the Secretary’s Quarterly Report. A questionnaire was mailed to district pastors in the North Zambia Field to discover the reasons why new members drop out of church. These data were integrated with the researcher’s first-hand experiences as president of the North Zambia Field from 2000-2002, and several years of experience as the Zambia Union ministerial secretary responsible for church growth.

Expectations from the Project

This researcher expects to start implementing the small group model for membership retention upon his return to Zambia in 2008. By God’s grace, he expects to see positive results as the model is implemented.

Subject Area

Small groups--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Small groups--Zambia; Seventh-day Adventists--Zambia

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.32597/dmin/450

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