Title

Investigating the effects of cultural inclusivity on St. John United Methodist Church through the use of a created Bible study series.

Date of Award

5-1-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

School

Drew Theological School

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Abstract

The notion of a family church could be taken to unhealthy levels in a faith community where the membership is comprised of people who share the same racial/ethnic and socio-cultural identities. Moreover, this sameness may not reflect the reality of the surrounding community. There is likely a warm, palpable fellowship among the members, but they sometimes fail to extend hospitality to new entrants. This makes it difficult for the newcomers to feel welcome. Often, newcomers are expected to conform to the dominant church culture or stop coming. Longtime members often find nothing wrong with the status quo. Their attitude suggests, "If I like it, you should like it". This type of attitude renders the church unhealthy, eventually killing it. This project was centered on the assertion that biblically based cultural inclusivity training would have positive effects on the members of St. John United Methodist Church. The goal was to create tools for intercultural dialogue at the local church level with the goal of mirroring the Kingdom of God. Since cultural inclusivity is essential to a healthy and growing church, the project was designed to educate and equip members of St. John with a biblical and theoretical understanding of the values of cultural inclusivity. The research methodology included pre and post surveys and the creation of a Bible Study series on cultural inclusivity, complete with homework assignments requiring participants to practice inclusiveness. From the research findings, it is clear that the implementation of the project brought deeper understanding of cultural inclusivity as an act of biblical hospitality and healing power in the church. As a result, members have become more open to each other and more welcoming of guests. The membership increased by 10 members in 2014. The program created by this project can be helpful for congregations of any size or location that desire to reflect the beauty of the Kingdom of God.