Discipleship at Bethany Christian Assembly
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This thesis is a qualitative study examining Bethany Christian Assembly’s (BCA) effectiveness at discipling new Christians. BCA is a church in Everett, WA located in the Pacific Northwest. BCA has a 100 year history and is currently averaging 1,500 in attendance on a given Sunday. This work explores whether BCA is fulfilling the biblical mandate of giving proper care to new converts. This study was driven by 5 research questions: 1) Is the current approach to discipling new Christians at BCA effective for their ongoing spiritual growth? 2) How do participants who have gone through the new believer process in the last 5 years at BCA view this journey? 3) How do participants who went thru the process more than 5 years ago feel about the new believer process they were apart of? 4) What systems and practices are other select churches employing and what can BCA learn from them? 5) What changes, if any, does BCA need to make in its care for new converts? Data was gathered by collecting anonymous surveys from recent attendees of Basic Christian Beliefs (BCB) class, which is the initial step for new converts at BCA. In addition to collecting surveys, 11 face to face interviews were performed to gather data from 3 different groups of individuals: 1) Attendees of BCB within the last 5 years, 2) Attendees of BCB from more than 5 years ago, and 3) Church Leaders. The Church Leader interviews consisted of one Church Leader presently on staff at BCA and 2 Leaders serving at other churches. These Church Leaders provided triangulating evidence based on their own separate experiences. Overall, the data revealed a combination of strengths and weaknesses in the new believer process at BCA. During the research project 4 implications emerged: 1) New Believer Discipleship must become a “church wide movement.” 2) BCA must repurpose Basic Christian Belief’s class and make the necessary adjustments for greater effectiveness and ongoing spiritual growth. 3) Launch a follow up class to BCB focusing on reading and understanding the Bible. 4) Provide each new Christian the opportunity to have a Spiritual Coach or mentor. These themes that emerged serve as mandates for the leadership at BCA in our effort to disciple brand new Christians.
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