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This study examines the impact of consumerism at Avon Wesleyan Church and presents an alternative culture of compassionate witness introduced through small groups. Transitioning from consumerism to compassionate witness is a slow and challenging endeavor. Research revealed that consumerism undermines a church’s witness and mission turning people away from others and into themselves. Part one describes the history of the church and the forces that have shaped its present culture which is then examined in light of a gospel of compassionate witness. Small groups are recommended as the best ministry to facilitate the cultural shift towards compassionate witness in the church.

Part two provides theological support for the proposed culture change. Three topics are explored in depth: conversion as a process instead of a punctiliar event, spiritual formation as a communal discipline and compassionate witness as a necessary aspect of discipleship. Theological support for the recommendations is further demonstrated by drawing upon significant writers in the area of conversion, spiritual formation and evangelism. Utilizing small groups as a distribution method provides opportunity for the new culture to be both experienced and modeled.

Part three explains how the project was implemented through a pilot group at Avon Wesleyan Church and its outcomes. The project revealed that culture change is difficult and slow and individualistic practices of spiritual formation are not easily surrendered. Even in the face of new information participants in the project resisted adopting communal practices of spiritual formation as primary disciplines.

A culture shift from consumerism to compassionate witness requires that members adopt a new paradigm of salvation and discipleship. Additional time and participants are needed to determine if the introduction of a new culture will prevail at Avon Wesleyan Church. Throughout the project Richard Peace (PhD) provided key insight and content review.

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Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

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Avon Wesleyan Church (Avon, N.Y.); Church group work; Consumption (Economics); Conversion; Spiritual formation; Evangelistic work


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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