The Christian ministry : case studies of preachers of the Churches of Christ in Bicol, Philippines
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This thesis examines the challenges faced by the ministers of religion in Churches of Christ (Restoration Movement) in Bicol, Philippines. The goal is to do theology from below, not from above, as pastoral ministry must come from the experience of those who practice it, not from textbooks. The pastoral perspectives of the dilemmas that the ministers raise are heard, observed, documented, and then reflected upon. To do this, case studies of four preachers are used and the mga problema that they present are explored with them. As a result, first, I introduce some of those challenges which are perplexing on the ground level and which appear to be under-researched in serious theological circles, especially in an Asian context. Second, I hope that these case studies can be used to stimulate reflection in ministerial and spiritual formation. Third, I document some of the theology and methodology of the Churches of Christ, particularly as practiced in the Philippines. Chapter 1 explores the dichotomy between the perceived satisfaction in the pastoral ministry with the crisis of role and identity. In particular, issues such as forced exits and stress are presented while baptism and preaching are scrutinized. Chapter 2 centres on the conundrums experienced in planting a new church and being the lone planter. Chapter 3 examines three challenges–the task of ministering in a home congregation, the issue of accreditation in ministerial training, and how the minister can be a success and grow the church. Never far from the thoughts and actions of any of the Bicolano ministers is the problema of poverty, so Chapter 4 considers some of the Filipino, personal, and spiritual complexities of poverty, delineates a number of factors that need to be taken into consideration in any effort to overcome this malady and concludes with a particular reference to ministry.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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