A dissertation


The only material here, quite frankly, that researchers may find useful is the title page and the dissertation's abstract.  However, I could not make the dissertation public without including the dedication to my wife, my children, my parents, and my wife's parents and without an acknowledgement of the work others have done to make this dissertation and my education possible.

This chapter provides an introduction to the entire project.  Included in this chapter is a statement of the problem, the hypotheses, the need for the study, the purpose of the study, the limitations and assumptions of the study, and the definition of terms used throughout the project.

Chapter Two examines the relevant literature and the implications thereof to the current project.  The chapter first examines the biblical imperatives placed on elders to shepherd the flock in their charge; the chapter also briefly examines the dangers elders face when working with inactive Christians as evidenced by Guinn v. Church of Christ of Collinsville.  The chapter then provides reasons Christians become inactive by first looking at the Parable of the Sower and then looking at causes prior to and following conversion.  Chapter Two also examines the reasons wayward members return to church.  The chapter concludes with a review of the literature as to the best practical steps active members can utilize to restore their inactive brethren.

The third chapter provides an overview of the research methodology, including a discussion of the participants, the instrument used to collect data, and the procedure to collect and analyze the data.

Chapter Four presents the findings from the research.  The first part of the chapter provides a brief case study of each elders, and the second section of the chapter organizes the data according to the interview guide.

This chapter provides a summary of the entire project.  An examination of the hypotheses--which were confirmed and which were denied--is provided.  The chapter also includes findings which were quite surprising and findings which confirm to the literature review in Chapter Two.  The chapter, as is common in qualitative research, includes personal reflections.  The chapter concludes with recommendtions for further research.

The appendicies for the project include a letter sent to elders, the informed consent used, and the interview guide I utilized to collect the data.

The references for the project are provided here so that those who wish to do further research in the area of inactive Christians may do so.

Shepherding Wandering Sheep

As part of my Doctor of Ministry project, I, of course, was required to write a dissertation. Partly because I was privileged to attend Heritage Christian University & partly because I worked with a small & struggling congregation several years ago, I have a keen interest in personal evangelism. I desperately wanted to conduct a project on personal evangelism. Furthermore, one of the problems I have encountered in evangelism--as many others have, as well--is new converts quickly going back into the world. In such cases, those "wandering sheep" need evangelism all over again. I, therefore began researching evangelism to unfaithful Christians. When I began the research, it was apparent that many, even in the churches of Christ, had already written dissertations on the evangelism of unfaithful Christians. Therefore, the project was going to need to provide new research in the evangelism of inactive Christians.

My Master of Divinity from Amridge University was in the area of organizational leadership, thus examining how the leadership of the local church seemed quite natural. Furthermore, it is the leadership of the local church--viz., the elders--who have the highest responsibility to evangelize wayward Christians. Thus, I examined the attitudes of elders in churches of Christ regarding inactive Christians.

The dissertation is provided here in hopes that this work may help the leadership in other congregations to be actively involved in the evangelism of their "wandering sheep."

The entire dissertation can be downloaded in pdf format by clicking here.