A biblical analysis of Donald A. McGavran's harvest theology principle
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This dissertation provides a biblical analysis of McGavran's harvest theology principle as it relates to the relationship between faithfulness in the evangelistic task and actual numerical church growth. Chapter 1 introduces the problem and outlines the research method. Chapter 2 contains a detailed explanation of harvest theology as presented by McGavran in his published works. The chapter outlines the concept of harvest theology in terms of the role of gospel messengers, the importance of strategy and effective methods, and numerical results. Chapter 3 examines the biblical text to discover the role assigned to gospel messengers. The key question for this chapter is as follows: What role, biblically, do human agents play in the evangelistic task? The role of gospel messengers is examined in the teaching and ministry of Jesus in the gospels, the book of Acts, and the Pauline epistles. Chapter 4, examines the biblical text as it pertains to the use of strategy and methods in the evangelistic task. The key question for this chapter is as follows: What, if any, strategy or method is employed in the New Testament and for what purpose? In addition, this chapter examines the concept of "receptivity" as a factor in determining evangelistic strategy. The use of strategy and methods is examined in the ministries of the Twelve and of Paul. Chapter 5, examines those biblical texts that deal with numerical results and their relationship to evangelistic activity. The key question for this chapter is as follows: What does the New Testament say concerning numerical results? This chapter examines both the records of actual numerical results as well as how the New Testament writers view numerical results. The existence and attitude toward numerical results is examined in the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline epistles. Chapter 6 serves as the summary and conclusion of the dissertation. This chapter summarizes the findings of the previous chapters and offer an analysis of harvest theology based on those findings. Additionally, this chapter offers a theological understanding of the relationship between faithfulness and church growth. Finally, the chapter offers implications of the research for contemporary ministry.