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The goal of this project was to take an in-depth look at the ministries of a local congregation and to discern how to best structure that congregation as a covenantal adoptive community. In doing so, Immanuel Christian Reformed Church (ICRC) of Ripon, California, was examined from many angles and a structure of implementation and evaluation was proposed. In order to become this covenantal adoptive community, including all ages appropriately, ICRC must understand and practice the covenant relationship it promises to all members upon baptism through the practices of teaching, preaching, historical and theological examination, and ordinary conversations and acts.
By examining history, this study identified key concepts in the history of the Christian Reformed Church as a denomination and ICRC as a local church that can be both positive and negative influences. Through examining historical and biblical theologies such as covenant and adoption, this study identified ways of living out biblical mandates in everyday lives. Through examining social concepts like life stages and social capital, this study saw needs of every generation addressed by relationships. In adding all of these findings together, this study concluded that an approach to ministry based on covenant promises of God and mutual adoption of each other would fulfill not only the theological mandates but also the sociological longings of ICRC.
The scope of this study is limited to one congregation, but the theories drawn up could be applied to many churches of similar theological and sociological backgrounds. The beginning steps of implementation have been both encouraging and discouraging. Encouragement has come when members of ICRC have seen the possibilities and begun practices that led towards covenantal adoption of all members. Discouragement has come when members thought the model outlined in this project was too difficult and idealistic to work.
Content Reader: Chapman Clark, PhD
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Lamsma, Bret D., "Organically Creating a Covenantal Adoptive Community At Immanuel Christian Reformed Church" (2016). Doctor of Ministry Projects. 231.