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The purpose of this project was to help church members to deepen their experience of the reality of God through an adult spiritual formation program that focused on the spiritual practices of service, prayer, worship, and study, within the context of small groups. It was intended to empower parishioners of St. Thomas’ Anglican Church in St. John’s, NL to live out their lives as committed followers of Jesus Christ.
The program provides a process by which every adult member can move closer to Christ, beginning from their present level of engagement in the congregation. It used the specific spiritual practices of service, prayer, worship, and study, which were already part of the church’s life and history. These practices, applied in small group settings, engaged congregants cognitively, behaviorally, and affectively, in order to empower them to move from Church membership to Christian discipleship. Spiritual practices relating to a shared life with God, in the kingdom of God, are examined as they apply to the Anglican spiritual tradition and the local church. Weaknesses particular to the church’s tradition were identified and the inherent problems addressed. The ministry strategy plan with specific measurable goals, was developed and implemented to potentially reach all members.
The final evaluation showed a measurable sense of empowerment among participating church members, as well as a positive movement in the congregation as a whole. An integrated assessment plan, covering every area of small group life in the parish and informing the leadership planning for subsequent years is outlined. This offers an ongoing annual process of renewal and empowerment for individual members, built into the structured pattern of life in the congregation. It is hoped that this program of empowering disciples can be adapted for use in other churches, with equally positive effects.
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Westin, John P., "Broad Church to Narrow Way: Moving from Membership to Empowered Discipleship at St. Thomas’ Church" (2014). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 137.