A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of The School of Theology Fuller Theological Seminary
In Partial Fulfillment The Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Ministry
by Elmer L. Towns January, 1983
TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 DEFINING THE GIFT OF FAITH THE MEASUREMENT OF ATTITUDE TOWARD FAITH LIGHTHOUSE BAPTIST CHURCH, ALFRED HENSON, PASTOR HERITAGE BAPTIST CHURCH, ROD KIDD, PASTOR LANCASTER BAPTIST TEMPLE, DAN HARLEY, PASTOR HOLY MOUNTAIN BAPTIST CHURCH, STEVE RAY, PASTOR WACHUSETT VALLEY BAPTIST CHURCH, JOHN MARTELLI, PASTOR HARVEST BAPTIST CHURCH, MARVIN WOOD, PASTOR CALVARY ROAD BAPTIST CHURCH, DAVID RHODENHIZER, PASTOR NEW LIFE BAPTIST CHURCH, RONNIE RIGGINS, PASTOR FREEPORT BAPTIST CHURCH, KURT STRONG, PASTOR FREDERICKTOWNE BAPTIST CHURCH, GARY BYERS, PASTOR SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION
The purpose of this dissertation is to examine the gift of faith in church growth. It is the author’s hypothesis that faith in the pastor when properly exercised will result in church growth. However, since the hypothesis concerns Christian service, the author has sharpened his focus to analyze the gift of faith in church growth. To accomplish this aim, seven questions were asked. 1. How is the term spiritual gift used in Christian literature? 2. How is the term gift of faith used in Christian literature? These two questions gave direction to the author for his original research and the answers are found in Chapter One. He examined the literature to determine the meaning of the term spiritual gift and how it relates specifically to the gift of faith. The term gift of faith was researched in the literature and three different definitions became apparent; (1) instrumental, (2) insight, and (3) interventional. These definitions of the gift of faith were applied to ministry. At this point a limitation of this study must be noted. The author will not attempt to examine every aspect of faith, but will concern himself with the gift of faith, which is the explicit purpose of Chapter One. Even though the nature of faith is the same in salvation, living by faith and the gift of faith; the focus of this study centers on Christian service. In Chapter Two an attempt is made to measure and compare expressions of faith toward the same areas by ten different ministers. There are three questions that guided the research. 3. How can the gift of faith be expressed in church growth? 4. What ten churches had the most growth among the graduates of the Liberty schools? 5. Is there a correlation between the perception of faith in church planters and the results in their church growth, when compared to areas where faith is expressed? The motivation for the study of the gift of faith was the fact that the pastors of the largest churches in America and Jerry Falwell in specific were reported to use faith as the primary cause of growth. When studying Jerry Falwell, his faith seems apparent in several areas, but the author chose to examine the expressed goal of Falwell to plant 5,000 new churches by the year 2000 A.D. Falwell seemed to express the gift of faith in church planting and church growth to four areas; First, faith was related to choosing a location; second, faith was related to the message upon which the churches were built (doctrine); third, faith was related to carrying out the objectives of the church; and finally fourth, faith was related to applying the principles of church growth learned at Liberty. Another limitation is noted at this point because it grows out of the nature of the research. The term church growth is related to numerical growth in this thesis. The author is aware there is spiritual growth in a church as well as growth in finances, Sunday school and several other areas, but these are outside the purpose of this study.
A survey was sent to all the churches of the Liberty graduates (seminary,...