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Project Topic:

AMICABLE COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE LAITY AND THE CLERGY: AN IMPERATIVE FOR A HEALTHY CHURCH GROWTH (A CASE STUDY OF PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES IN BENUE STATE)

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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1 - 5 ::   Pages: 86 ::   Attributes: Questionnaire, Data Analysis,Abstract  ::   23 people found this useful

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THEOLOGY UNDERGRADUATE PROJECT TOPICS, RESEARCH WORKS AND MATERIALS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

One of the worst afflictions of the contemporary church is the separation between the clergy and laity which results from a failure of communication between them. The sense of Separation, however, seems to be greater among the clergy than the laity. What is this sense of separation, and what are its signs? The loneliness of the clergy in their churches and communities is one of the most poignant signs. They have little companionship or relationship with the laity except for that which is related to their functions as ministers. And much of this professional relationship is strained and stilted. Perceptive laymen are aware of the condition. One, for example, expressed the opinion that "clergy are the great un-churched. They preside over the churches and minister to the laymen but they are not free to be members of .the church and, therefore, beneficiaries of its ministry." Discussion with clergy reveals that the observation of the laymen is correct. It is inconceivable to the clergy that the congregation or individual church members should know, accept, and care for them as persons. On the contrary, most ministers' training for their work seems to indoctrinate them with the understanding that it would be unprofessional/or them to expect, much less receive, care from the people in their congregations. If they do not receive it from their congregations, they probably will not receive it at all because the experience of many ministers clearly reveals that pastoral care is not available from bishops, denominational leaders, and other ecclesiastical authorities. Institutional concerns tend to make administrators rather than pastors out of church leaders. Laity, likewise, has a low expectation of being the church to their pastors. They regard a minister as the head of the church, the director of its enter prises, the doer of the ministry. They invest him with imagined powers which hide from them the fact that he is a human being and therefore in need of companionship and care. Furthermore, laity has many preoccupations away from the church that keep them from becoming aware that the minister and his family are lonely in the midst of what is supposed to be a Christian community. The loneliness of the clergy is not only personal and social but conceptual and theological as well. They have been educated to look at the world and man from the point of view of Christian doctrine, a view no longer accepted by the world, including their parishioners, who, in spite of their Christian professions, hold a secular point of view. Clergy and laity really live and think in two different worlds between which communications has broken down. Another sign of the separation between clergy and laity is the moralistic misconception of the gospel that is to be found among church people and others. Christianity is conceived by them to be a process of self-improvement. An individual achieves and maintains his Christian identity, they believe, by keeping the commandments, by not offending the Conventions, and by doing unto others as he would have them do unto him. When asked what their state of being is when they fail to obey the law of God, they admit that as Christians they have lapsed but believe they can reinstate themselves by cranking up their moral effort again. As a consequence, many so-called Christian people are self-righteous, without any sense of need of forgiveness, and, therefore, fail to be channels of tolerance and forgiveness toward others. This condition exists because clergy and laity do not communicate with each other at any depth. Opportunity is not provided for laymen to wrestle with the truths of the gospel out of their own meanings and in their own terms. They hear the message of grace, but not understanding it, they fall back upon the "security" of living by the law. Salvation by moral effort easily degenerates into moralistic attitudes that are both ineffective and unattractive. Improved communication between clergy and laity would result in a deepening of understanding on the part of both in relation to the meaning of the gospel.

1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM

One of the first is the problem of language. Most clergy are trained in the use of biblical and theological concepts and words. These become their stock in trade so that they cannot talk without using them. These words, however, are not the ones that laymen rise in either conveying or receiving meaning, with the result that for the layman the clergyman often does not seem to be saying anything understandable or practical. Clergymen, on the other hand, do not get the significance of what laymen say because they do not use biblical and theological language. It is also to be observed that clergy often do not understand each other when they use professional language, so that it is no wonder that meaning is not conveyed to the laity by their use of it. Communication falters or fails because people often hear and use words rather than meanings for which the words are supposed to be the instruments.

1.3. AIMS OF THE STUDY

The major purpose of this study is to examine the amicable relationship between the laity and the clergy: an imperative for a healthy church growth. Other general objectives of the study are:

1. To examine the role of the clergy and laity in the church.

2. To examine communication and the nature of the church.

3. To examine the effect of amicable communication between the laity and clergy on the growth of the church.

4. To examine the problems affecting effective communication between church leaders and followers.

5. To examine the relationship between the laity and clergy and healthy church growth.

6. To suggest ways in which harmonious communication will help in healthy church growth.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1. What are the roles of the clergy and laity in the church?

2. What is communication and the nature of the church?

3. What are the effects of amicable communication between the laity and clergy on the growth of the church?

4. What are the problems affecting effective communication between church leaders and followers?

5. What is the relationship between the laity and clergy and healthy church growth?

6. What are the ways in which harmonious communication will help in healthy church growth?

1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES

Hypothesis 1

H0: There is no effect of amicable communication between the laity and clergy on the growth of the church.

H1: There is a significant effect of amicable communication between the laity and clergy on the growth of the church.

Hypothesis 2

H0: There is no significant relationship between the laity and clergy and healthy church growth.

H1: There is a significant relationship between the laity and clergy and healthy church growth.

1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

It is hoped that the church management will use the findings as the base upon which to review church performance and necessary improvements identified will be undertaken to enhance performance at the church and increase in members and other church activities. It is also hoped that the findings will also be used by the clergy and the members to aid in church growth. It is also hoped that the findings of this study will also be beneficial to churches in developing strategies for adopting harmonious communication that should work towards improvement of church growth. It is also hoped that church leaders and policy makers will use the findings of this study to formulate viable policy documents that will effectively boost the church and healthy church growth. Lastly, researchers may benefit from the study as it adds on to the growing body of knowledge in communication and will act as a source of reference for studies to be done on church growth. It is in this light that the research aims at filling the existing academic gap by carrying out a research on the relationship between the laity and the clergy.

1.7    SCOPE OF THE STUDY 

The study is based on the amicable relationship between the laity and the clergy: an imperative for a healthy church growth.

1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY

Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

1.9 DEFINITION OF TERMS

Clergy: Is defined as those persons ordained for ministry within the church. Generally, clergy would refer to those who are professional, paid ministers.

Laity:  Karl Barth says, “The term ‘laity’ is one of the worst in the vocabulary of religion and ought to be banished from Christian conversation”. Although this study questions current definitions and understandings of being a layperson, for the purposes of this study, laity is defined as those persons neither ordained nor serving as professional ministers within the church.

Church Health: Is defined as a high presence of the characteristics that constitute a vital, strong congregation.

Shared ministry: Is defined as the degree to which laity perceive ministry in their church as being a shared responsibility as opposed to being the primary job of the clergy

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