Date of Award

11-1-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

Degree Name

D.Min.

First Advisor

Dr. Marsha Snulligan Haney

Abstract

This dissertation will address the implementation of a Community Outreach Ministry at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Stockbridge, Georgia. The working hypothesis of this project is that Mt. Olive is called to use its resources to care for and serve the local community, and in so doing, the church will help to meet the needs within its local community. Therefore, the scope of this project is to establish a Community Outreach Ministry at Mt. Olive that will primarily serve the elderly within the community who are facing issues of food insecurity. The goal of the project is to involve Mt. Olive in outreach ministry with the hope that this involvement will ultimately change the culture of Mt. Olive; that going forward the church will faithfully allocate a portion of its resources (financial, human, and property) to consistently meet the needs of the local community.

Theologically, the researcher believes that the example and ethic of Jesus Christ make it clear that churches are called to reach beyond their walls and serve those in need, for through the church’s outreach efforts, and via the power of the Holy Spirit, lives will be transformed and needs will be met. In short, the researcher will show that the bible clearly addresses the mandate for community outreach (Matt. 25:34-36); that the bible makes it clear that: 1) the church is called to reach out to those in need; 2) Christ, via the power of the Holy Spirit, will bring about transformation to those in need; and 3) God will provide the resources necessary to serve those in need.

The researcher’s project was conducted in three phases over a period of 31 consecutive weeks - February through August, 2012: Phase 1: Centering – Rooting the ministry in a theology of serving the "least of these" (Matt. 25:40); Phase 2: Critiquing- Identifying the needs of the community; and Phase 3: Constructing- Executing a plan of action to mobilize the ministry volunteers. The overall success and effectiveness of the project was measured by the following five (5) goals:

1. Is the Community Outreach Ministry operational?

2. Are at least 50 seniors being served?

3. Are there at least two (2) seniors from the community working with the ministry?

4. Has the Community Outreach Ministry formed a partnership with an organization that advocates on behalf seniors and those facing issues of food insecurity?

5. Is the ministry meeting the needs of the seniors served and has change occurred in the church? Have the ministry volunteers experienced positive change from working in the ministry? Are they more committed to community outreach?

The researcher also provided reflections regarding the limitations and lessons learned from the project, as well as future implications as a result of the project.

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