Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

John Grys

Second Advisor

Hyveth Williams

Third Advisor

Joseph Kidder



Discipleship is a term that church congregations use to articulate their goal of fulfilling the call of Jesus to make disciples (Matt. 28:19, 20). The Adventist Community Church (ACC) in Vancouver, Washington is no different. With a mission to “Reach Up in Worship, Reach Deep in Discipleship, and Reach Out in Evangelism,” a discipleship culture is key to the church’s mission. A deficiency in the discipleship culture at ACC is evident in the absence of a disciple-making system. The strategy to address this challenge is to invest in an intentional and robust discipleship growth plan.


A systems-thinking approach was used to improve the discipleship culture at the Adventist Community Church in the spring of 2021 through a focus on discipling classes and the strengthening of small groups. The twelve-week intervention began and ended with a system survey that sought to bring understanding, improvement, and evaluation of discipleship at ACC. Discipleship was promoted through announcements and sermons to the church culminating in small group training. Additionally, the discipling timeline for organized support was substantially extended at ACC. Data was evaluated using a quantitative method, with an additional qualitative survey component for extra emphasis.


The self-assessment by local church leaders revealed a church in need of discipleship improvement. This included a lack of communication and organization in discipling classes and small groups. Through the systems-thinking process and intervention, those who participated expressed the need to improve a systems approach to strengthening a discipleship culture.


Based on the progress, reflections, and general outcomes, the project strengthened a discipleship focus and improved a general understanding of discipleship. The outcome was a perceived professional and spiritual growth, and a strengthened discipleship system. Consequently, further study of systems-thinking with the desire to strengthen a discipleship culture has merit and is recommended.

Subject Area

Discipling (Christianity); Adventist Community Church (Vancouver, Wash.); Seventh-day Adventists--Washington--Vancouver

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