Church Growth Religion And Theology Research Proposal

Religion and Theology: Church Growth

Problem Statement

It has been observed that good pastoring is often absent in The Apostolic Church of West African diaspora in the United States. Without proper leadership, which is missing in the form of good pastoring, young people do not find a connection with the church, hence are hard to retain. The membership of young adults is witnessed to reduce hurting the church and the Church ministers.

The Purpose

The research purpose would be to create awareness about good pastoring and its importance for retaining young church members, specifically The Apostolic Church of the West African diaspora. It would also teach moving the ministers to change themselves and bring good pastoring practices that infuse motivation in the youth during congregations. The purpose is also to test my assumptions about whether good pastoring is missing in the selected church and among its ministers or not.

Research Questions

Keeping the project aims in mind, the research questions developed are:

i. What would good or effective pastoring look like in West African Churches that largely involve West African Pastors and congregants?

ii. What would young people of West African descent look for in the church?

iii. Is there a disconnection between what young people are searching for and what they deliver in these Churches? What is the disconnection?

iv. Are my assumptions correct, and what could be done with the results?

The Background

Research has suggested that spiritual connections for youth are significantly beneficial in reducing their stress and anxiety and helpful for leading a healthier life ahead (Goeke-Morey et al., 2014). More than 60,000 were baptized in Southern Baptist churches all over America in 2004, whereas afterward, the number of youth attending the congregation was quite low (Alexander, 2017). The question of increasing youth attendance despite investing several dollars in youth programs has remained unanswered. Whether it was their busy lives after getting admission to colleges or due to their motivation or interests in congregations, the debate still exists (Alexander, 2017).

Youth have higher intensity in religious association and could be better workers for the work of faith (Alexander, 2017). Passing on the Church leadership to young, energetic individuals is one of the most talked about interests of the Church leaders. Hence, future sustainability heavily relies on youth interests and keeping them retained. Previous Churches have used coping mechanisms worldwide; however, West African diaspora individuals residing in the US are the focus of research here. The focus has been set based on the finding from the background that African American young adults and their psychological well-being depend on their closeness to their religion, used as a coping strategy. The churchs role as a healing institution is studied in most pieces of research; therefore, African American individuals are of primary interest in studying a lingering retention problem in Churches.

Context of Ministry

I believe that my 24-month experience as a District Youth Leader/Pastor qualifies me to do this project and makes it a concern for the ministry as I have been a member of the National Executive Council for the youth/young adults of the church. I have been close to church as I was born and raised there. I am an eyewitness to the effects and impacts of good and bad pastoring on the church and its effectiveness in retaining youth.

Project Outcome/Goals

The project outcomes or goals would be:

To gain knowledge about good pastoring practices in West African Churches by taking The Apostolic Church as an example

To gain knowledge about what young adults are gaining in the shape of pastoring and what their actual perceptions are about church leadership

Outlining steps for bridging a gap in any perceived gap

Methods of Research

Since opinions and thoughts of young people coming to the Church and Pastors of the selected church are to be tested, a qualitative research design is selected to fulfill research goals. For this intent, surveys are deemed best as information would be collected from Pastors and young people that come to at least 6-8 congregations of The Apostolic Church located in Washington DC, particularly the metropolitan area.

There would be two question sets; one set would be...…the study: A general idea of the problem under study and what importance it would bring to the discipline

Background/ Literature review: Summary of the previous relevant studies that shed light on the issue and set a backdrop for the current research.

Rationale: Particular questions that form the basis of research and how they would be evaluated for bridging the gaps with the current investigation

Study method and design: Explanation of methodology, sample, design, variations, and rationale for selecting a particular research design only and reason for excluding the rest.

Conducting research: Conducting surveys among the selected participants

Results: Compilations of results based on the responses gained from the survey and careful analysis with the triangulation method

Discussion: A review of the existing situation, expectations, and gaps and whether my assumptions stood true or not

Conclusion: Concluding with final remarks and future significance for the Church leaders that how they could address the gaps for retaining young adults in the light of theological and Biblical values and love for youth. The conclusion could also add future implications for catering to the needs of youth in contemporary times, specifically West African diaspora churches in the US.

Action Plan/Schedule

My action plan for the research includes the following steps:

Description of the goals, which have been mentioned in the previous section

Tasks included at each stage, such as defining the population, extracting samples and the strategy for doing so, formulating surveys, conducting the survey, analyzing results, etc.

Delegation of tasks with deadlines that would be needed to reach the milestones of the project

Ensuring task completion for which keeping an eye on resources would be an important direction

Progress evaluation

The following suggests the tentative project schedule:

Project tasks/ steps

Time

Goal setting, scope, and revising research questions for any possible errors

October 1, 2022

Literature review

2nd-15th October 2022

Devising study method, design, and methodology

October 16, 2022

Outlining the survey

17th- 19th October 2022

Conducting survey

20th-25th October 2022

Reviewing the survey and finalizing results

26th-28th October 2022

Analysis

29th-5th November 2022

Presentation of results

6th-18th November 2022

Citing whether the research addressed gaps, whether my assumption stood true and…

Sources Used in Documents:

Bibliography

Reading list: These references could be used in the dissertation.

Gesler, M.E. (2013). “You is the Church”: Identity and identification in Church leadership [Partial degree fulfillment, University of Montana]. Scholar Works at University of Montana. https://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1030&context=etd

Hippolyte, J. M., Phillips-Caesar, E. G., Winston, G. J., Charlson, M. E., & Peterson, J. C. (2013). Recruitment and retention techniques for developing faith-based research partnerships, New York City, 2009-2012. Preventing Chronic Disease, 10. https://doi.org/10.5888/pcd10.120142

McIntosh, R. & Curry, K. (2020). The role of a Black Church-school partnership in supporting the educational achievement of African American students. School Community Journal, 30(1), 161-189.

Moser, K.A. & Nel, M. (2019). The connection between youth ministry’s division of evangelism and discipleship, and the lack of retention of youth in North American churches. Verbum et Ecclesia, 40(1), 1-8. https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v40i1.2020

Williams, C.M.O. (2019). Active engagement of young adults in the church and a sense of belonging [Doctoral dissertation, Concordia University]. Digital Commons Concordia University. https://digitalcommons.csp.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1360&context=cup_commons_grad_edd

ReferencesAbraham, L. (2016, May 2). The importance of Christian youth ministry in today’s church. Grand Canyon University. https://www.gcu.edu/blog/theology-ministry/importance-christian-youth-ministry-todays-church

Alexander, S.L. (2017). Examining the retention of African American young adults in their childhood church [Doctoral dissertation, Walden University]. Walden University Scholar Works. https://scholarworks.waldenu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=4756&context=dissertations

Goeke-Morey, M. C., Taylor, L. K., Merrilees, C. E., Shirlow, P., & Cummings, E. M. (2014). Adolescents’ relationship with God and internalizing adjustment over time: The moderating role of maternal religious coping. Journal of Family Psychology: JFP: Journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43), 28(6), 749–758. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0037170

Pahl, J. (2019, July 7). Recreating America: Youth ministry and social change, 1930-1999. The encyclopedia of Informal Education. https://infed.org/mobi/re-creating-america-youth-ministry-and-social-change-1930-1999/

The Presbyterian Outlook. (2012, July 24). Author says theology should play a deeper role in youth ministry. https://pres-outlook.org/2012/07/author-says-theology-should-play-a-deeper-role-in-youth-ministry/


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