Title page for ETD etd-03162006-231337

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author DeClaisse-Walford, Stephen Gerald
Email declaisse@bellsouth.net
URN etd-03162006-231337
Document Title Led by the Spirit? Discovering the ethos of churches that reach out
Degree PhD (Practical Theology)
Department Practical Theology
Advisor Name Title
Prof M Nel Committee Chair
  • Congregation
  • Congregation as hermeneutic
  • Congregational Studies
  • Outreach Ministry
  • Community
  • Congregational ethos
  • Postmodernism
  • Enlightenment project
  • Atlanta
  • Spirit + Spirituality
  • Statistical Analysis
  • Meaningful engagement
  • Christendom + post-Christendom
  • Hermeneutic
  • Holism + holistic ministry
Date 2006-02-06
Availability unrestricted
The problem this study addresses is that the Christian church in the postmodern west is in a condition of zero growth and even decline. Conventional strategies intended to reverse this condition have tended to focus on improved implementation of traditional methodologies of church growth. Despite the application of such strategies the church continues to decline, indicating the urgent need for additional approaches. Practical theology suggests such an additional approach: greater engagement with the local community. Certain churches have been identified whose congregations, acting, it is believed, under the leadership of the Spirit, are engaging their immediate communities in a wide variety of ways often with the result that people touched by the church respond with a new or renewed interest in the Christian faith and in some instances join or rejoin the Christian family. The implication, and the hypothesis of the study, is that widespread application of the practices of such community-engaging congregations, called “holistic” congregations, might have a positive impact in terms of growth in the wider church community.

To determine the validity of this implication a small-scale inductive, empirical, effect-to-cause study was undertaken. Combining qualitative and quantitative research methods intended to identify the ethos of those churches that meet the developed criteria of “holistic” churches, as compared to a second group of “non-holistic” churches, the study addresses the question: Is it possible to discover the ethos of holistic churches with a view to reproducing that ethos in other churches?

Analysis of the data gathered during the study identifies a number of specific characteristics shared by the holistic churches. In addition to suggesting strategies that may profitably be investigated and implemented by churches that wish to become, or become more, holistic in terms of their outreach ministry, the results also advocate the further study of holism as a possible key feature to the future of the Church.

  Filename       Size       Approximate Download Time (Hours:Minutes:Seconds) 
 28.8 Modem   56K Modem   ISDN (64 Kb)   ISDN (128 Kb)   Higher-speed Access 
  00front.pdf 62.01 Kb 00:00:17 00:00:08 00:00:07 00:00:03 < 00:00:01
  01chapter1.pdf 82.83 Kb 00:00:23 00:00:11 00:00:10 00:00:05 < 00:00:01
  02chapter2.pdf 214.95 Kb 00:00:59 00:00:30 00:00:26 00:00:13 00:00:01
  03chapter3.pdf 243.43 Kb 00:01:07 00:00:34 00:00:30 00:00:15 00:00:01
  04chapter4.pdf 386.96 Kb 00:01:47 00:00:55 00:00:48 00:00:24 00:00:02
  05chapter5.pdf 189.99 Kb 00:00:52 00:00:27 00:00:23 00:00:11 00:00:01
  06back.pdf 576.54 Kb 00:02:40 00:01:22 00:01:12 00:00:36 00:00:03

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