Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award

2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

College

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

David Penno

Second Advisor

Ricardo Norton

Abstract

Problem

The observations made by this researcher between 2019 and 2020 in the South Metropolitan Chile Mission led to the conclusion that most elders from the 79 organized churches showed leadership deficiencies. This was deduced from observations during local church training events, activities provided by the local conference, and also from the analysis of growth indicators in congregations. It is also important to note that the average of 6.3 congregations per pastor makes it difficult for the elders to develop as local leaders. Added to this condition is the high mobility of pastors who often remain for only one or two years in their districts. All the above indicated that of the 232 elders who performed their duties in the churches, most needed to improve their effectiveness in the areas of pastoring and administration. Therefore, the main reason for this problem was that the South Metropolitan Chile Mission did not have a training program to help the elders to develop as more effective leaders.

Methodology

This research project is part of the discipline of applied theology. For this reason, it was a direct and contextualized intervention in the life of the church. The training program aimed to help the elders improve their effectiveness as local spiritual leaders. The program entailed the completion of five teaching modules. These modules focused on the spiritual development of participants, as well as on strengthening their pastoral and administrative abilities. For outreach purposes, the program was called the “School of Ministerial Development.” The cycle of this project lasted approximately four months. This period included classes, the completion of assignments, the administration of assessment surveys, and interviews with a sample of participants. To achieve the training objectives, I began by studying biblical-theological concepts of the Old and New Testaments. I examined the biblical role of the elders and analyzed leadership principles based on relevant characters from sacred history. I also reviewed guidelines related to elder leadership in Ellen G. White’s writings. Next, I discussed concepts related to the leadership and training of church elders in contemporary literature. Finally, I implemented and evaluated the training program.

Results

This project used quantitative and qualitative assessment tools to measure the effectiveness of the program. It applied an initial survey to measure the performance of the elders. During the development of the modules, I recorded the attendance and finalize the requirements of the program. At the end of the course, I re-applied the survey to measure the effect of training on participants. In addition, I applied a questionnaire to measure the level of satisfaction of the elders and conducted interviews with 25% of those who completed the training successfully. Of the 41 enrolled, 37 participants completed the course successfully. Therefore, the retention rate was 90%. On a scale of 1% to 100% the average grade in the group was 94%. The comparative results of the survey applied before and after the program showed significant increases in participants' spiritual practices. Similarly, pastoral functions showed significant strengthening. However, in the area of administrative functions, the results were positive, but moderate. The satisfaction survey yielded interesting results. Eight-one and a half percent of the participants stated that the content of the course was highly satisfactory, while none of them claimed to have been dissatisfied. On the other hand, 88.9% stated that the quality of the instructors was optimal. It should be noted that on a scale of 1 to 10, the average grade given by participants to the training course was 9. Finally, the interview with 25% of the elders who completed the course revealed a very positive assessment of the training. This is so because a 100% of respondents said they would highly recommend the program to other elders.

Conclusion

The “School of Ministerial Development” was the first formal leadership training experience for elders in the South Metropolitan Chile Mission. The implementation of this program made it possible to meet the real developmental needs for these leaders. In addition, the foundations for future investments were laid and other similar training initiatives were promoted. The results obtained and the evaluation of the methodology applied will allow for the design of programs for training in the future. Despite the limitations imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the adaptations made to the program, the effects of the intervention were positive. Both measurable results and deep learning experienced by the elders will go to the direct benefit of the congregations of the mission field and in support of the pastor’s work. Accordingly, the Leadership Training School for the Church Elders is a welcomed addition as an effective tool to the resources available for training leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Chile.

Subject Area

Elders (Church officers)--Training of; South Metropolitan Chile Mission

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