Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award

2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

College

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Michael Cauley

Second Advisor

Kathy Beagles

Abstract

Problem

There are varied approaches to and models of evangelism and discipleship. Stevensville Seventh-day Adventist Church had, for many years, held evangelistic series to which the community was invited. At different times they had additionally put on health-related seminars and likewise invited the community. The evangelistic series typically focused on improving one's understanding of truth while the health-related seminars traditionally focused on improving one's physical well-being. Models of outreach which focus merely upon changing intellectual and spiritual understanding based primarily upon teaching church doctrines (traditional evangelistic series) and models that purely and exclusively focus on improving one's physical well-being (health-related seminars), even in the context of an experiential relationship with Jesus, leave a reservoir of approaches untapped; approaches for whole-person transformation. Deep change is transformational and engages the whole person–spiritual, emotional, social, and intellectual facets of personhood. How could a church simultaneously integrate these two models into a single ministry, as did Christ?

Method

An eight-week small groups program was created for the Stevensville Seventh-day Adventist Church. The program introduced participants to information and principles drawn from (a) CREATION Health to improve their understanding of their physical health and from (b) selected healing narratives of Christ to improve their understanding of their spiritual health. The program additionally combined both in-person group elements with individual one-on-one coaching elements. The goal was to improve participant's understanding of the elements of good physical health and good relational health with Christ. The success of the program was judged on participants self-reporting of perceived improvements in both areas.

Results

At the onset of the project a total of 11 participants initially joined. This number grew to 14 by the end of the eight weeks. All of the participants reported improved understanding of their physical health as well as a deepening in their understanding of Christ as creator, healer, redeemer and friend. The small group became so well bonded that at the conclusion of the initial eight weeks, they unanimously agreed to continue meeting together.

Conclusions

Copying Christ's method of helping individuals understand both their physical health as well as their relational health with God can result in improving both, with the benefit of also increasing individual's faith, hope, and love. The program revealed that the small group was a success as reported by the participants. As designed and implemented, the small group model with coaching elements created an environment in which participants were able to learn new information and gain insights into their own goals. In turn, they were empowered to make healthier decisions, and experience improvements in both their physical health and relationship with Christ as creator, healer, redeemer and friend, while also growing in community with each other.

Subject Area

Small groups--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Stevensville Seventh-day Adventist Church (Stevensville, Mich.); Evangelistic work; Missions, Medical--Michigan--Stevensville

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