Project Documents

Date of Award

1980

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Werner K. Vyhmeister

Second Advisor

W. G. C. Murdoch

Third Advisor

Leona Running

Abstract

Problem

Dropouts from church membership have increased during the 1960s among Christian denominations. Abundant literature has been circulating analyzing possible causes and suggesting remedies. The. picture is not yet clear. Meanwhile, several types of solutions have been proposed and tried with different degrees of success or failure. As the issue is also a concern among Seventh-day Adventists, a program considering the particular situation of this denomination, in a Latin-American setting, is presented. One way to a renewal experience that would help confirm members and thus prevent dropouts is suggested.

Method

As a first step, a review of the current literature has been made to evaluate the different suggestions given and methods used to increase accessions and reduce apostasies. Further, a program based on a self-assessment process and followed by goal setting and continuous evaluation that can be applied to a local congregation is outlined. The thesis of the project has been tested in two local congregations of Texas„ In order to search for areas where improvement is necessary, three different surveys were conducted among present and former members of the participating congregations. The analysis of findings of these experiences is made in the project; some conclusions have been drawn and these are estimated as applicable also to other circumstances and situations.

Results

By the end of the program, the churches involved in the pilot test had a clear idea of their needs and had outlined ways and means to satisfy them. The goal setting became the starting point for a reformation in the life of the congregations. According to the studies conducted, improving fellowship, the quality of worship, and preaching were among the priorities of the congregations involved.

Conclusions

After the literature about the issue was reviewed and the field tests were conducted, a twofold remedy for facing the problem of dropouts was proposed: (1) the church family must discover a true picture of itself and search for identification of weak areas, and (2) a dedicated effort must be made to face the shortcomings and search for improvement. The renewal of the internal climate of the church, the quality of relationship among members, and an improvement of the quality of worship and preaching would transform the congregation into a source of spiritual power and affirmation. This,would result in more accessions and fewer apostasies.

Subject Area

Evangelistic work; Church renewal

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.32597/dmin/567

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