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Interdenominational Theology Center (ITC)

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This dissertation examines interpretation of congregational traditions, present missional needs, and the role of the senior minister in presenting a vision for the future. This case study involves congregational self-appraisal, interpretation of data, goal setting, program and ministry development, lay leadership empowerment, and the importance of educational ministries in bringing about transformation.

The findings of this study revealed that strategies for change take place through a combination of factors. Chief among these are trust, effective communication, agreed upon strategies for change, an understanding of conflict management, and the role of the senior minister in creating an atmosphere for change.

The purpose of this study is to examine strategies for change in the life of an urban African-American, mainline denomination congregation. This study was prompted by the discovery of the lack of available information regarding the African-American church's struggle to respond to present and future missional needs.

Chapter I outlines the purpose of the study and states the need for additional research particularly as it relates to the impact of tradition on decision making, the planning process for creating an environment for change, and the role of senior minister in presenting a vision for change. Chapter II discusses the current available literature on church growth, the Black Church, and the relationship of the African-American Church to the United Methodist Church.

Chapter III examines the ministry issues that bring about the need for change. Congregational self-analysis is utilized to identify available options for change and the process of decision making is illustrated through a series of strategies for change. Chapter IV is a description of the process of implementation through several existing component elements and structures.

The fifth and final chapter records the findings of the study. Among the key findings---the pastor as an agent for change must assume multiple roles: visionary, interpreter, enabler, spiritual guide, preacher, teacher, and umpire. The Council on Ministries must understand its role in the planning, organizing, coordinating, staffing and evaluation process. Finally, the policy-making body of the local church must be willing to implement the recommendations for change and transformation.

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