Hear by Design: Toward a Vocational Development Process at the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church

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This dissertation seeks to design a vocational development process for The Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church (The Kirk) in Tulsa, OK. The issue prompting the study was a need to help members translate Christian knowledge into a practice of following God’s call for their lives. Part I establishes the research framework by using instructional design (ID) principles to create a discernment tool for Christian educators. This tool is then used for systematic analysis, beginning with a survey of biblical-historical notions of vocation. The vocational landscape is shown to be complex and ever changing, requiring persons and churches to journey through life with a discerning posture of receptivity and response to God, others, and self. Part II utilizes interviews, focus groups, and participant observation to investigate contextual factors impacting vocational development at The Kirk. Data suggests members desire to serve and put faith into practice but are hindered by busy-ness, cultural obstacles, and a sense of disconnect. Primary needs are deeper experiences of community and vocation-specific guidance. Part III draws conclusions from the findings, informing the rest of the ID framework and leading to a recommended vocational development process that is highly relational and designed to guide members toward the cultivation of a lifelong vocational posture. Though immediate application is specific to The Kirk, the discernment tool has broader applicational significance and could be used to design contextualized discipleship processes in other settings.

Mentor: Mark Hopkins

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Hopkins, Mark

Document Type



Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church (Tulsa, Okla.); Evangelical Presbyterian Church; Vocation; Discernment (Christian theology); Discipling (Christianity)


Missions and World Christianity


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