During my time preaching for the
church in Alum Creek, I have been attending doctoral classes at
Southern Christian University, a brotherhood graduate school. I
am currently writing a dissertation entitled Shepherding Wandering
Sheep: An Examination of Elders’ Attitudes Regarding Inactive
Christians. The dissertation involves interviewing elders in
Kanawha and Lincoln Counties concerning their view of inactive
brethren. I hope this work leads to the development of seminars
or a book to help elders work with inactive Christians.
June 26, 2006
I am writing to ask your help in
this study. Specifically, I am asking that you consent to three
ninety-minute interviews concerning inactive Christians. If you
can help me, please complete the demographic questionnaire and the
informed consent form and return them to me in the self-addressed
stamped envelope. Any information you give me will remain
strictly confidential and will be revealed to no one. If you have
any questions, please feel free to contact me.
I look forward to meeting with
SOUTHERN CHRISTIAN UNIVERSITY
Informed Consent for participation in the
Shepherding Wandering Sheep Study, a research project being conducted
by Justin Imel.
Justin Imel is a doctoral student
in Ministry at Southern Christian University in Montgomery, Alabama.
The purpose of this study is to explore the attitudes of elders in
churches of Christ regarding inactive Christians. Participation
Your participation will consist
of three ninety-minute interviews with the researcher. The
interviews shall be taped and transcribed by the researcher
himself. At the conclusion of the study, all tapes and
transcripts shall be destroyed. Your cooperation in answering the
interview questions will be a tremendous asset to the study.
All answers given in relation to
questions will remain strictly confidential and will be disclosed to no
one. If you give your permission by signing this document,
what is learned will be in a dissertation written by this researcher
without your name attached.
Your decision whether or not to
participate will not jeopardize your future relations with this
researcher. Further, you may discontinue participation at any
time. If you decide later to withdraw from the study, you may
also withdraw any information that has been collected from you or about
If you have any questions, please
feel free to contact Justin Imel at 389-9997 (cell),
email@example.com, or PO Box 24, Alum Creek, WV 25003.
YOU ARE MAKING A DECISION WHETHER
OR NOT TO PARTICIPATE. YOUR SIGNATURE INDICATES THAT YOU HAVE
DECIDED TO PARTICIPATE HAVING READ THE INFORMATION PROVIDED ABOVE.
Researcher’s signature Date
Interview Guide for First Part
1. Tell me a little bit about your religious
a. In what group were you raised as a
b. How often a week did you attend church
c. What recollections do you have about
the leaders in that group?
- What did you like about those
leaders? What did you dislike about those leaders?
- What type of spiritual leadership did
those leaders exhibit?
- What did those leaders do to retain
members? What did those leaders do to recover lost members?
d. How did that group react to members
who fell away?
2. Tell me a little bit about how you became a member
of the churches of Christ.
a. Who influenced you to become a member?
b. What do you recall about your baptism?
c. How often did you attend services
after becoming a member of the churches of Christ?
3. Tell me about a time you might have considered
yourself an inactive member.
a. Who from the church contacted you
about your inactivity?
b. When did you return to active service?
c. What did you like about the recovery
process? What did you not like about the recovery
4. Tell me a little bit about how you became an elder.
a. When did you believe you fit the
qualifications outlined in the New Testament?
b. How did the congregation go about
installing you as an elder?
Interview Guide for Second Part of Interview
1. Tell me a little bit about the congregation where
you currently serve.
a. How many members worship with the
b. How active is the typical member?
c. How many people do you typically
baptize a year?
- How do you seek to incorporate those
new members into the congregation?
d. How many inactive members would you estimate are
members of the congregation where you serve?
- How many of those members fall away
shortly after their baptism?
2. Tell me a little bit about how the congregation
where you serve deals with inactive Christians.
a. Who visits with the inactive member?
b. How long does the congregation wait
until you visit the inactive member?
c. What programs do you have in place to
work with inactive Christians?
3. When you hear the phrase “inactive Christian” what
do you think of?
a. What do you believe causes many
Christians to become inactive?
b. Why do you think many Christians seem
to ignore their inactive brethren?
4. Tell me a little bit about the last encounter you
had with an inactive member.
a. How did that go?
b. How did the member react when you
c. What did the member give as a reason
for his/her inactivity?
d. How did you feel as you left the
5. What have you learned from working with inactive
6. What do you think is the best way of going about
working with inactive Christians?
7. What fears do you have about working with inactive
8. What role do you believe an elder should take in
working with inactive Christians?
Interview Guide for Third Part of Interview
1. We’ve talked a good deal about inactive Christians
in the past few minutes. What have you learned by going through
2. What would you like to change about the way you’ve
worked with inactive Christians in the past?
3. How would you like to work with inactive
Christians in the future?
4. What else would you like to add?