An analysis of church consultation in the North American church, 1960-2003
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This dissertation examines church consultation as practiced in the North American church. Chapter 1 identifies the concept of consultation and traces its origin. After defining church consultation and establishing the methods and limitations for research, the chapter concludes by identifying the most quoted and recognizable leaders in the field. Chapter 2 begins by identifying seven historical factors that have influenced church consultation as it is currently practiced. After briefly tracing the history of consultation in North America, chapter 2 considers the history of church consultation. This chapter traces church consultation among the Episcopalians, United Methodists, and Southern Baptists. The chapter concludes by examining the types of church consultation being practiced in the North American church. Chapter 3 examines whether or not an uncritical acceptance of social science research coupled with inadequate views of the authority of scripture may be harmful to church consultation. Finally, a epistemic starting point from which discourses for setting methodological limits between the secular and sacred aspects of church consultation is offered. Chapter 4 addresses the principles and practices of church consultation which a careful examination of the literature and a survey of church consultants revealed. Seven principles of good church consultation are presented and the broad factors related to the study of client churches are presented. The chapter ends by briefly discussing those who best represent church consultation in the North American church. Chapter 5 presents the various research attempts undertaken to determine church consultations effectiveness, and the issues affecting the practice of church consultation. The chapter concludes by identifying nine trends in the field of church consultation. This work contends that church consultation is and has been a valid means for assisting churches in achieving their mission, but as consultation is currently practiced, increased rates of effectiveness are needed. The research clearly demonstrates that the discipline of church consultation contains room for improvement in its method, implementation, and practice. Formation of a professional society and journal for church consultation could assist in furthering the learning, peer support, and review necessary for these needed clarifications.