Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Del Dunavant

Second Advisor

Jim Lorenz

Third Advisor

Nilson Ferreira



Many churches have struggled to continue to accomplish mission in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic while complying with the mandated restrictions. The Redding Seventh-day Adventist Church already struggled with no small group ministry prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the “stay at home” requirements for churches only increased feelings of isolation in the Redding Church members. These feelings of isolation created a hindrance to mission and resulted in a severe lack of biblical community.


The research method employed in the design of this project was a qualitative one. It explored the question under examination by using NCD surveys to assess the eight characteristics of church health. The initiative started by having the church complete a Natural Church Development (NCD) survey to assess the eight characteristics of church health. The initial survey provided baseline NCD scores in all eight categories, and specifically in Holistic Small Groups (HSGs). I provided the Northern California Conference a list of all email addresses on file with the Redding Church office. The total number of addresses in the email list was around 80. The email list was forwarded to NCD, and each email address was sent a digital NCD survey to complete. The survey closed upon completion of the first 30 responses. The church then launched a small group ministry which started with VSGs. After nine months, a second NCD survey was conducted. This second survey measured the impact small groups had on NCD in the areas involving HSGs.


The NCD results showed improvement in almost all areas. The most dramatic increase in the eight categories of health was in the category of HSGs. All but one specific question relating to HSGs improved dramatically, indicating that the addition of HSGs to the Redding Church did make significant improvements in the area of biblical community and to the overall health of the church and its members.


The study has revealed that in the absence of HSGs, church members often suffered a wide range of consequences because of the lack of biblical community. It is evident from this study that it would be beneficial for the church to refocus and realize that small groups are not an end in themselves, but rather, a vehicle to foster healthy biblical community. Therefore, there is a need to encourage the denomination as a whole to increase the emphasis on HSG ministries.

Subject Area

Redding Seventh-day Adventist Church (Redding, Calif.); Small groups--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists