Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An evaluation of Gospel receptivity with a view toward prioritizing the engagement of groups and individuals for evangelism and church planting
by Morris, John Michael, Ph.D., Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, 2009, 189; 3388877
Abstract (Summary)

Missiologists have debated the receptivity (harvest) principle of the classic Church Growth Movement for decades. The principle has implications for both groups and individuals, but the debate among Southern Baptist missiologists has mainly focused on the group aspect of the principle. The purpose of this dissertation is to answer the still unresolved question: How should the current receptivity/resistance of a group or individual influence evangelistic and church planting strategies? This dissertation seeks to show that an accurate assessment of the current receptivity of a group should determine whether that group will be prioritized in terms of resources expended on that group in the immediate future. This dissertation also seeks to show that an accurate assessment of the current receptivity of an individual should sometimes determine whether that individual will receive a full presentation of the gospel in the immediate future.

To prepare this dissertation, the author utilized books, commentaries, journals, magazines, electronic documents, interviews, a survey, and other unpublished materials such as dissertations for much of the research. He studied the historic evangelistic strategies of selected Southern Baptist leaders to see how they reacted to the receptivity principles. He analyzed selected people movements that have occurred in China and Korea during times of receptivity. He also analyzed the factors that made Japan and many predominantly Muslim countries resistant to the gospel.

The author examined the biblical basis for the receptivity principle. He also identified a biblical/theological framework that explains the variations in receptivity.

The author concludes that the current receptivity/resistance of a group or individual should influence evangelistic and church planting strategies. As a result of the current global financial crisis, financial resources are very limited. Harvesting in receptive fields will produce a greater number of Christians than toiling in unreceptive fields. The new Christians harvested from receptive fields will provide the financial and human resources necessary for an expansion of evangelistic efforts. The International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board have never had enough resources on hand to reach all groups in the world at once. Limited resources should primarily be utilized to evangelize the groups and individuals that God has made receptive. Stewardship is a timeless principle; thus, the receptivity principle is a timeless principle.

The author also concludes that Southern Baptists must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their witnessing to individuals. North American Mission Board leaders need to create a new evangelistic program that includes diagnostic questions that can be adapted to non-Christian world views and that accurately assesses the receptivity levels of individuals. Finally, the author concludes that all Southern Baptist leaders should fully embrace the receptivity principle so that they will be more effective in their evangelistic and church planting efforts.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Wilkes, Steve
School: Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary
School Location: United States -- Tennessee
Source: DAI-A 71/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Religious history, Biblical studies, Theology
Keywords: Evangelism, International Mission Board, McGavran, C. Donald, Rankin, Jerry, Receptivity, Resistance
Publication Number: 3388877
ISBN: 978-1-109-56403-7
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