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

Norman Miles

Second Advisor

Steven Vitrano

Third Advisor

James J. C. Cox

Abstract

Small churches form such a large part of the Christian church, and of the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in particular, that it was felt desirable that the viability of the small church should be examined. An examination is made of current theological thought relevant to the small church. This was followed by a study both of family-style motifs and family-style practice by the church in the New Testament. Sociopsychological factors which effect and also explain the operation and "personality" of the small church are noted from relevant recent literature and studies.

Some church-growth and organizational projects involving small churches are included in the sociopsychological section, which aims to provide reasons and rationale as to why small churches act as they do, and from this to isolate their strengths and weaknesses. It was felt, desirable to examine the organizational structure of the Seventh-day Adventist church, particularly as formulated in the Church Manual, from the aspect of its influence and effect upon the small church. A viability project conducted in the small Seventh-day Adventist church in Otsego, Michigan, is included. In this local project an attempt is made to deduce the viability of this small church in comparison with and in contrast to the characteristics of the typical small church--as established through the study of the NT, the Apostolic church, and current literature. The object of the viability study was to help this small church to assess itself and, within its viability potential, make tangible goals for the future.

The conclusion contains recommendations for reorganization of small churches and suggestions as to how viability can be improved. Cautions are given concerning certain changes which may not be for the better, especially when they run counter to the characteristics of the small church. Some suggestions are made, with certain reservations, as to an optimum size for Seventh-day Adventist churches. These propositions have grown out of the consideration of the most successful balance between strong family fellowship and the meeting of denominational, Biblical, and individual needs within a worshiping community.

Subject Area

Small churches; Church membership

DOI

https://dx.doi.org/10.32597/dmin/600

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