Dissertation Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Clifford Jones

Second Advisor

Andy Lampkin

Third Advisor

Norman K. Miles



Between 1944 and 1997 over 1 million Black people in the United States rose from poverty to middle class status. Increased upward mobility has brought an increased social mobility. Middle class Blacks are moving into close proximity to predominantly White suburban Seventh-day Adventist churches. Simultaneously, the out-migration of the Black middle class from urban areas to suburbia has created not only an economic drain, but also has fostered class tensions within the Black urban church. If churches are to be successful in the recruitment and retention of the Black middle class, then ministry approaches must be developed to address the felt needs of this class. The purpose of this study was to recommend strategies, informed sociological factors, theoretical frameworks, and theological implications of class and ethnicity to effectively minister to the Black middle class.


Demographic data were reviewed to create an ethnographic profile of the Black middle class. From the profile, the felt needs of this class were derived. A survey was conducted (n= 177) to determine what specific factors influence Black middle class persons to attend or affiliate with a church. Recommendations for ministries for the Black middle class were informed by the ethnogragph, the survey, a review of theoretical approaches, and a biblical theology.


The ethnogragphic data reveal that as a result of social stressors and economic and educational disparities, the Black middle class feel alienated from the societal mainstream. Survey data reveal that (1) for Black middle class “biblical teaching” was the most important factor in church affiliation; (2) “Contemporary Christian” was the preferred worship style; (3) parenting support was preferred for emphasis in the church; (4) one-on-one Bible study was the preferred form of evangelism; and (5) 73 percent of respondents reported they would consider joining a non-African American church.


This study identified (1) the Black middle class as a people group, (2) the felt needs of the Black middle class, (3) the desire of the Black middle class to have ministry germane to their needs, and (4) ministries for the Black middle class consistent with Scripture. It is concluded that if the four above realities are considered, then churches in transition will be successful in the recruitment and retention of the Black middle class.

Subject Area

Church work with African Americans--Seventh-day Adventists; African Americans--Missions



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