Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary Doctor of Ministry Thesis-Project
Abstract: This thesis explores the process of institutionalization of evangelical ministries. As a ministry grows it must inevitably develop formal procedures and policies to guide it’s operations. In this sense, institutionalization is not necessarily a negative thing. On the other hand, institutionalization can have a dark side if the original spiritual integrity and organic vitality that gave life to the organization is lost as the organization develops. In Chapter One of this thesis we look at how this process occurred within three organizations that started out as distinctly vital Christian organizations—Alcoholics Anonymous, the Young Men’s Christian Association, and the Salvation Army. We then apply these reflections as a means of avoiding these pitfalls within the ministry of Teen Challenge New England (TCNE). Chapter Two puts forth a systemic Pentecostal theology of ministry and applies it to the ministry of TCNE, recognizing that a deficient theology will produce deficient ministry practice. Chapter Three offers a review and reflection on various sources of literature that have helped shape our understanding in this thesis. Chapter Four presents findings and reflections from two “hexagon” studies that TCNE conducted on its ministry. This “systems thinking” method is a means for seeing the often hidden complexities and interrelationships at work within an organization, which both hinder and help the organization to reach its desired outcomes.