Part 3 of my D.Min. Proposal: Ministry Model

This is the section of the proposal which outlines how I will go about implementing the proposed ministry. This is what makes the D.Min. different from the traditional PhD. It has a focus and termination in the local church. That’s what I appreciate about the D.Min. as opposed to the PhD.

Ministry Model

The goal of my ministry model will be to tie together Covenantal Apologetics (as discussed above under “Historical Precedent”) with the crisis of identity in the urban context (as discussed above under “Cultural Conditions”). We believe that Covenantal Apologetics is uniquely equipped to help urban Christians challenge the hopelessness and crisis of identity within the inner-city.

I am the pastor (church planter-missionary) of Redemption Church, a small church plant in S. Philly. On good days we have 20-25 people. Redemption, while small, is predominantly African American. My family and I are the only white people in our church. While our neighborhood (Point Breeze) is rapidly gentrifying it remains overwhelmingly ethnically African American. Viewed from a socio-economic perspective our neighborhood is one of the poorest and most stressful in Philadelphia.[1]

I plan on carrying out my ministry model in three stages. Each stage will go deeper into the material while at the same time expanding in influence. I’m viewing it from the perspective of concentric circles. First, (center circle) I will lay the ground work in my immediate context. I will preach thirteen expository sermons to Redemption Church which will serve as the foundation for the rest of the Ministry Model.[2] These sermons are directly based upon chapter two biblical and theological foundations. I will preach these sermons in the Fall of 2019 and Spring of 2020. I will interview church members after the sermon series in order to solicit their evaluations.

Second, (middle circle) building upon and integrating the sermon work, I will develop and implement an apologetics course. I am still working on nailing down the who, when, and where. This will have a broader reach than my small church. This course will consist of eighteen lectures approximately forty-five to sixty minutes each. The rough outline is below. At the end of the course, I will hand out evaluative questionnaires. Evaluation will also be based on course material comprehension through quizzes, tests, and a final paper / research project.

Last, (outside circle) I want to take it one step further by building upon the previous two stages in order to offer a book on urban apologetics to the broader church.[3] The proposed book will integrate all of the material from my thesis work with the sermons and course material. The book outline will follow the course outlines listed below. I will seek peer review of the book by sending out copies to experts in the field.

The course lessons and book chapters will follow the broad organizational structure of Method, Commending the Faith, Defending the Faith, and Attacking Unbelief. The following are themes I intend to focus on:

Method

Covenantal Apologetics. Why apologetics? What is apologetics. How is apologetics covenantal in nature? What are the key elements of a covenantal apologetic? Why is covenantal apologetics helpful as an apologetic methodology in the urban context? In other words, what does CA bring to the table?

The Urban Context: Ghetto Nihilism and the Crisis of Identity. Trace the theme of the crisis of identity in the urban context and how it has resulted in Ghetto Nihilism, hopelessness in the hood. Then tie it back to the image of God. Ghetto nihilism has come about because of the “shattered self.”

Applied Apologetics. Apologetics must be applied to specific contexts and in specific ways. What’s the role of the apologist and the Holy Spirit in the apologetic task? How does apologetics relate to evangelism? How does apologetics relate to the church? How does apologetics relate to discipleship?

Commending the Faith

Christianity as a Belief System. Christianity is a system of truth. And as a system, it must be commended and defended as a whole.

Christianity as a Worldview. Founded upon the belief system of Christian doctrine, Christianity is a way of living and thinking. It has practical import.

Christianity as a New Identity. Christ reshapes our identity and re-creates us. Our image is restored and redeemed. We are no longer dead in our trespasses and sins. We are now alive together with Christ. We are no longer “in Adam” but “in Christ.” And this changes everything.

Christianity as a New Family. Belonging, identity, and purpose are all found in Christianity. The Body of Christ is the foundational family. Christ’s love for the church serves as the basis for all our biological and spiritual families.

Christianity as a Way of Hope. Our restored image brings with it dignity and hope. We above all, have joy and hopefulness even in the most difficult of circumstances. This hope stands out in the midst of the hopelessness of the urban context.

Defending the Faith

Why do we need to defend the faith? Highlight the need for deconstructing false beliefs about Christianity.

The Problem of Evil and Hopelessness in the Hood. Why is the hood so hopeless? All hopelessness stems from Christ-less-ness. Briefly explore spiritual warfare.

Christianity and Racism. Is Christianity just a white man’s religion? Christianity sadly has its identity wrapped up in being a white man’s religion. Christianity has been seen and used as a tool of oppression. How would it ever appeal to the African American? This is a question of identity.

Islam and its Variants. Discuss the rise of traditional Islam in the hood. Nation of Islam. Other variations of Islam. Islam is appealing because it deals with the African American identity. It creates belonging and provides a sense of identity, dignity, and purpose.

Other Common Objections to Christianity. Indifference and Irrelevance. Need to make the case for the absolute relevance of Christianity. And also, be clear that there are only two types of people in this world. There is no middle ground, no neutrality with Christ. You are either “in Christ” or you remain under the wrath of God, “in Adam.”

Attacking Unbelief

How do we attack unbelief? With gentleness and respect. We must become listeners. We must give the benefit of the doubt. We must love our friends and our enemies. We must speak the truth in love.

Idol Hunting. What are the surface idols and deep idols of the hood? How may we address those idols? Idols are rarely perceived. We need to be able to discern them and point them out as a key element of our apologetic witness.

Objections are Excuses. We need to lovingly point out how common objections to Christianity are often not really objections at all, but simply excuses. They are fig leaves that cover up the true reasoning for objecting to Christianity. Often those objections are moral. Unbelievers are at war with God. They are children of Satan, living in darkness, unwilling and unable to change.

Inability of Unbelief to Sustain Itself. Apologists must point out the inherent brokenness and contradictoriness of unbelieving belief systems. At root, unbelief is a flat out rebellious denial and rejection of the Lordship of God. Inward curve upon itself.

Conclusion

Christ is the Only Hope for the Crisis of Identity in the Urban Context. Make a call for belief. It is all about changed hearts founded upon renewed minds supported by godly living. The goal is nothing short of gospel-transformation. This transformation in Christ offers a rich, viable, truthful, and sustainable hope for the hood.

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_______________________________________________

[1] “City of Philadelphia Stress Index, City of Philadelphia, accessed August 17, 2018, https://arcg.is/08rOab. Our neighborhood of Point Breeze makes up roughly one half of the 19146 Zip Code. The Stress Index looks at multiple factors such as heat stress, low to no healthy food, distance to parks, drug crimes, household income, education, and poverty.

[2] These thirteen sermons will model “Expository Apologetics.” For details, see Voddie Baucham, Jr., Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

[3] Currently there is a dearth of apologetics works focused specifically on the uniqueness of the urban context. Christopher W. Brooks, Urban Apologetics: Why the Gospel is Good News for the City (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 2014), 150-151 writes, “Apologetics as a field of study, by and large, still has a long way to go in order to reach and win the hearts of minorities. We need an army of men and women who are well trained in the art and science of Christian persuasion and who also bear the marks of urban pain and progress in their consciences.” The hope of my ministry model is to help contribute to the raising up of that army.

2 thoughts on “Part 3 of my D.Min. Proposal: Ministry Model

Add yours

  1. This looks really good, Will. Is there a way some of your work could be presented at BCON? (BTW, this comment box is black type on very dark grey background, very difficult to read as I am typing! I don’t know if it comes up that way for others. And the logos are gigantic!)

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