Doctor of Ministry
Throughout the researcher’s 20 years of ordained ministry in the Lutheran Church he has continually been interested in the critical role effective biblical discipleship practices have on the 21st century church as well as the Church of the future. It is also of interest to many clergy and leaders of communities of faith, and with good reason. Many feel the discouragement when observing high levels of apathy within their churches and among the people they are called to serve. It is evident in many communities of faith and among individual believers that there is a problematic lack of passion, urgency, and interest in faithfully carrying out one’s call to discipleship. Our ways of reaching out to, honoring or following God have changed dramatically in recent years while God’s way of reaching us remains the same. There are many reasons that contribute to this. These reasons include expectations, biblical literacy, evangelism, stewardship and worship – all concepts that are critical to fulfilling our call to be disciples but that are not very well, if at all, understood by disciples of the modern-day. In many respects congregations seem to have lost sight of the biblical call to discipleship over the years, of which, the call is clear throughout Scripture. There is a sense of urgency and immediacy to respond that is not communicated or embraced in all communities of faith. This is unfortunate as the church has life-giving and life-sustaining news to share with the world beginning with the local communities they serve. This research project addresses and evaluates what many elected church leaders and professional clergy find themselves pondering about their communities all too often: “They just don’t get it.” For this project five individual congregations and their pastors were studied and assessed as models that have bridged the gap from apathy to mission and from casual observer to faithful disciple. Data was gathered through general observation, open-ended questionnaires, face-to-face interviews, and surveys. Through grounded theory and a phenomenological approach to research, core concepts that can aide communities of faith in bridging the gap from apathy to mission were identified. This project has potential to positively change the direction of congregations and of the leadership model of those who guide them. It will benefit clergy and communities of faith across denominational lines and will draw believers back to the foundation of discipleship – the Lord’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
Doctor of Ministry
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Stiles, D. R. (2017). From Apathy to Mission: A Critical Transition for Pastors and Leaders of Faithful, yet Changing Congregations [Doctoral thesis, Bethel University]. Spark Repository. https://spark.bethel.edu/etd/609