Dissertations (EdD)

You are welcome to peruse these theses/dissertations. They may be cited, but please observe standard academic protocol for doing so. If you wish to contact the author(s), email your request to admin@agstalliance.org.

Frank McLean Hawthorne (2017): Christian conversion and spiritual maturity in Southeast Asia
Lau Ying Kheng (2016): Encouraging Singaporean seminary students to use reflexivity
Winnie Chan Sin Ming (2015): Parental participation in faith nurture of primary school aged children in Sarawak
Perry W. H. Shaw (2012): Congregational leadership for growing Arab churches

Frank McLean Hawthorne (2017)

Supervisors: Martin Dowson and Allan Harkness

An Attachment Theory perspective on Christian conversion and spiritual maturity in four people groups in South and Southeast Asia

If you would like to read a copy of the dissertation please contact McLean directly: fmclean@mac.com.

This dissertation represents a study of psychological processes implicated in Christian conversion and spiritual maturity. Centrally, this study asserts that conversion and spiritual maturity can be understood psychologically in terms of attachment processes. This understanding can supplement theological and missiological understandings of conversion and spiritual maturity. Much of the focus in Christian missions has been on levels of conversion in specific contexts. Strategizing and implementing strategic efforts to increase the numbers of converts has been a major missions focus. In contrast, the focus of the present study is on Attachment Theory and the role secure attachment relationships have in the process of conversion and on the quality of a convert’s relationship with God after conversion. This focus is taken because it is hypothesized that the quality of a convert’s relationship with God has significant impact on the convert’s spiritual maturity. In turn, spiritual maturity is thought to bring about desired outcomes that are of concern in the missiological literature—including greater participation on the part of converts in evangelistic efforts among their own people groups and other, unreached and less reached people groups.

Psychological theory and psychometric methods are used in this study because they provide the framework and tools needed to investigate the quality, antecedents, and consequences of a convert’s relationship with God after conversion. The study sample was comprised of 788 respondents from four distinct people groups in South and Southeast Asia. The groups represented three major non-Christian religious backgrounds. Data, gathered using a survey questionnaire, were analyzed using structural equation modeling techniques, including confirmatory factor analyses and path analyses. Results supported hypotheses indicating that secure attachment relationships have a meaningful role in the processes of conversion and spiritual maturity of converts. Findings of the study could serve to inform Christian pastors, evangelists, church planters, missionaries, and educators in the regions of South and Southeast Asia and beyond.

Lau Ying Kheng (2016)

Supervisor: Jennifer Turner

Encouraging Singaporean seminary students to use reflexivity in their ministry practice [PDF]

This dissertation addresses the urgent need to educate Singapore seminary students in radical and innovative reflexivity so that they will continue to be effective in ministry in a rapidly changing world. The action research among twenty-six students at the East Asia School of Theology have shown that reflexivity can, and must be taught. However reflexivity is recommended not as a methodology but rather as a posture. Just as servant-leadership is not simply concerned with techniques but the heart, so training in reflexivity is the education of the practitioner’s posture, attitude, and mindset: of maintaining balance as both teacher and learner; and of readiness to effect change through the three requisites which prepare for reflexivity – challenging assumptions, engaging with emotions, and employing reflexive dialogues. For maximum effectiveness it has been found that these must operate within an attitude of restfulness in the rhythm of deep learning and, very importantly for the Christian minister, with dependence on the direction of the Holy Spirit in making choices. When seminary students are taught reflexivity, they learn to search honestly within themselves, especially in the moment of service, to expose embedded motives and pre-judgements, be alert to emotions that can stumble or expedite critical learning, and use reflexive questions to invent new paradigms for lifelong learning and ministry. Finally, this dissertation shows that even more fundamental than the underlying theories, biblical discussions, and suggested curriculum, the reflexivity classroom must be dynamic, developing, and dialogic. Without live awareness of incontext modelling of reflexivity, there will not be the spontaneous discovery and application of learning by both the teacher and the student which serves to create the atmosphere for the curriculum implicit in this training.

Winnie Chan Sin Ming (2015)

Supervisor: Rosalind Lim-Tan

Appropriate parental participation in faith nurture of primary school aged children in urban Chinese families of the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference of the Methodist Church in Malaysia [PDF]

This study investigated how the parents of primary school aged children of the Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference (SCAC) of the Methodist Church in Malaysia can be better equipped and be more effective as partners in faith nurture of their children. The study used the qualitative research method of grounded theory. Data were collected through interviews with sixteen parents and seventeen children from four different Methodist Chinese churches in Sarawak.

The emerging theory has five propositions: 1) The major responsibility of faith nurture of children lies with the parents. 2) The church and the family need to be in partnership in nurturing the faith of the children. 3) Parents need help to build up their own life and emotions if they want to nurture the faith of their children adequately. 4) Parents need to encourage a two-way direction when communicating faith matters with their children. 5) Children’s faith is nurtured when they spend time doing ordinary everyday things with their parents.

Finally, this study proposed three possible ways to support parental participation in faith nurture of their children in the SCAC churches: 1) Churches be more intentional in offering creative and accessible ways for the faith community so as to partner with parents in forming nurturing environments that promote the faith development of children. 2) Parents may find it helpful to join a parent support group for building their own life and emotions. 3) Families may need to spend time with each other, talking about faith matters and also enjoy doing ordinary everyday things.

Perry W. H. Shaw (2012)

Supervisors: Paul Sanders and Rowland Edwards

Congregational leadership for growing Arab churches: A critical-contextual and systemic study of Middle Eastern Arab Protestant churches [PDF]

This thesis has examined the extent to which healthy church life in the Arab world is reflective of critically contextual systemic patterns of congregational leadership. Comparative quantitative data using Parsons and Leas’ (1993) Congregational Systems Inventory found that two clusters of behaviour were typical of numerically growing Arab churches. Either within the study itself or in research elsewhere elements of the first cluster of planned strategy, mandatory process, and collegial relatedness were found to be somewhat characteristic of the broader Arab society. However, the second cluster of dispersed authority, visionary pastoral and lay leadership, and metamising learning patterns was found to be atypical of Arab society. A dialogue with biblical-theological reflections on leadership suggests that both typical and atypical characteristics of healthy Arab churches find affirmation in Scripture, pointing to the significance of critical-contextual patterns of leadership.