Date of Award
Doctor of Ministry
Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Doctor of Ministry DMin
R. Clifford Jones
Secularization is a process that has effected and continues to effect massive changes in the cultural, social, and religious experience of many people. It is characterized by a loss of the influence of religion on society’s institutions and peoples. It came about when the scientific method became the principal means of discovering truth, while the biblical and theological perspectives became increasingly sidelined. People have become increasingly secular in their thinking, and many currently view the church as archaic, irrelevant, and boring. This presents a problem for the church and its mission in our contemporary society. Because of the lack of cultural support the church once enjoyed, and because of the ineffectiveness of traditional methods of evangelism, it has now become necessary to develop and implement new and untried methods for reaching secular people.
The theoretical section of this study focuses on an understanding of secularization, and particularly secularization in America. I endeavor to show how the process of secularization has affected the lives of people and institutions (particularly the educational institutions) in America. I present a biblical and theological rationale for reaching secular people. As a result, the study draws implications for intentional ministry to secular people in our day. A survey of three models for reaching secular people was undertaken. I surveyed their basic strategies, followed by a critical analysis of what are considered some of their strengths and weaknesses. Growing out of this, I present a suggested strategy for reaching secular people. While the suggested strategy is within the context of a church-planting concept, it is not presented as the pros and cons of church planting. The strategy is characterized by broad-based principles of how the church can be intentional through relevant programming and ministry for reaching secular, unchurched people.
The growth of secularization has impacted North American society and its people tremendously. The attitude of many people toward Christianity and the church is one of avoidance and even alienation. As a result, the tried and true methods of mission outreach and evangelism no longer find a receptive audience among the secular, unchurched population. I have, therefore, presented a suggested strategy with a concept of church planting that is intentional for reaching secular people. Because secular people are basically ignorant of Christianity and the Bible, the proposed strategy involves a process of bringing secular people to a knowledge and acceptance of Christ as their personal Saviour from sin (through the power of the Holy Spirit), and suggests ways to further nurture and develop them into fully mature followers of Christ. Some practical recommendations are presented. Since secular, unchurched people remain largely beyond the reach o f the traditional methods of evangelism and church programming, the need to be intentional and culturally relevant is emphasized. Individuals and churches that are desirous of reaching secular people will find helpful suggestions in this study.
Non-church-affiliated people; Church work with non church-affiliated people--Seventh-day Adventists; Evangelistic work--Seventh-day Adventists
Norman, Ernan Alpin, "A Strategy for Reaching Secular People" (2001). Project Documents. 580.
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