Increasing biblical literacy: re-engaging a congregation with the transformational study of the Scipture
LE3 .A278 2018
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
This thesis project set out to determine if an interactive preaching model would increase the biblical literacy of a particular congregation at a particular time and place, and therefore re-engage the congregation with the transformational study of the Scriptures. In this thesis biblical literacy is defined as knowing the contents of the Bible, with a solid understanding of the biblical story, therefore knowing what the Scriptures are saying rather than strictly being able to read the Scriptures. One of the assumptions that underlines this thesis is that the Scriptures are authoritative. The Bible remains today, as the Church has said throughout its history, the document in which the Word of God is active, in which the Word of God speaks. The research in this thesis begins by exploring the scriptures to see what they have to say about knowing scripture. This research is providing an overview of what scripture has to say about scripture, rather than trying to prove the need for scripture from scripture. The opening chapter highlights, through scriptural references, the role of the Scriptures in the Church. The research continues with a sampling of theologians, biblical scholars, and Christian writers from throughout history. These sources are used to illustrate the historical position of the Church regarding the critical importance of Biblical literacy. The research concludes with the doctrine of the United Church of Canada and how it continues to focus on biblical literacy. The project model was created to increase the reading of the Scriptures, with interpretation, as well as engagement. The methodology used for the project model includes participation, self-discovery, and self-learning by the participants, in the hope that what is learned, would be deeply learned. The project was created as a Participant Action Research (PAR) case study. The quantitative data for the project was gathered using pre-and post-tests and a focus group met following the project to offer qualitative data. The results of the project indicated that the biblical literacy of the congregation before the project was indeed low. Following the project, it was observed that learning occurred, biblical literacy increased. Overall the results revealed that the project achieved its goal of increasing biblical literacy using the interactive preaching model. The results also revealed that the method was sound. An increase in learning was demonstrated in both the quantitative data from the test results and from the qualitative results of the focus group feedback and PAR observations. What was unexpected was how the missional and spiritual calling of the respondents also increased as their biblical literacy increased. The biblical literacy project methods led to missional and spiritual changes in the participants and the church. These changes were led by the congregation without any prompting or direction from the researcher. It was the members of the congregation themselves who made the shift and began to follow more closely their calling to be the Church after reading the scripture. These spiritual and missional changes were observed because of the PAR structure.
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