Church administration

Selected Case Studies Investigating the Principles of Visionary Leadership of the Senior Pastor in the Revitalization of a Declining Church

Ronnie L. Stanley Jr. D.Min.
As early as the 1980s, church growth specialists began to sound an alarm concerning the death, decline, and revitalization of churches. These specialists identified an association between pastoral leadership style, the presence of a compelling vision that identified how the church should look in the future and key actions that would result in the cessation of the decline and initiation of revitalization.

The readers will discover that there is an association between the visionary leadership of the pastor and the principles used to impact at least eight different spheres of the ministry that have been entrusted to him.

This dissertation defined “visionary leadership” as leadership that inspires people to change because of two things: the Senior Pastor’s model and message. The project will examine the role the of selected senior pastors and the impact of their visionary leadership on the revitalization of a declining church.

The primary means of investigation and research in this project was the use of eight case studies of pastors, which will assess their leadership style and its impact on revitalization. Some of these pastors entered their churches more than twenty years ago, and some began three years ago. In each case, their churches have experienced marked growth after a period of decline.

The literature review provided an informed approach to this project by examining sources that explored vision, vision communication, transformational leadership, outreach, assimilation, and church growth.

It’s Easier Together: Christian Teamwork through the Eyes of Ruling Elders in Mid-Sized Reformed Churches

Matt Giesman
The purpose of this study is to investigate how ruling elders from mid-sized Reformed churches describe their teamwork. The assumption of this study is that most pastors do not begin their ministry with a sufficient understanding of the need for teamwork amongst their lay leaders and that such teamwork is vital to their ministry success.
This study utilized a qualitative design using semi-structured interviews with eight elders at mid-sized churches (approximately 150-450 in attendance) in the Presbyterian Church in America. The literature review and analysis of the eight interviews focused on three key areas to understand the nature of teamwork in mid-sized Reformed churches: trust in teams, power dynamics in teams, and the parity of elders.
This study found that the following are the five most common descriptions of teamwork in mid-sized Reformed churches: fellowship beyond business hours builds trust and teamwork; healthy conflict and patient listening are hallmarks of healthy teamwork; power is used “judiciously” in healthy teams; consensus is sought and usually achieved in healthy teams; healthy teams are humble, with no MVP, with no head except Christ.
Therefore, the study concluded that these strategies should be implemented and modeled in mid-sized Reformed churches by elders.

Transition from Founding Pastor to First Successor Pastor: Every Pastor Is an Interim Pastor

Christopher A. Polski
Stories of conflict, loss and congregational collapse are far too common during seasons of pastoral transition and especially so when the transition in view is the transition from the founding pastor to the first successor pastor, a circumstance that presents a highly unique set of challenges that often prompt a crisis of identity within a still young congregation. The purpose of the study is to explore how church leaders describe influential factors in their process of transitioning from a founding pastor to a first successor pastor.
This study made use of a qualitative design utilizing semi-structured interviews of founding pastors, first successor pastors and key church leaders who were involved in congregations in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) that had recently undergone a transition from a founding pastor to a first successor pastor.
The literature review focused on surveying insights and principles related to transition in the following fields of inquiry: Core Ministry Practices, initial Biblical leadership transitions, leadership transitions in stepfamilies, leadership transitions in business, and leadership transitions in churches.
This study revealed that there are seven key principles that must be considered in relation to a first pastoral transition:
Principle #1: Every Pastor Is an Interim Pastor
Principle #2: Founding Pastors Make a Unique Mark
Principle #3: Plan for Transition Now
Principle #4: Continually Recalibrate Your Culture for Smoother Transition
Principle #5: Transition Isn’t Over when the New Pastor is Installed
Principle #6: Engage the Inevitable Loss in Transition
Principle #7: Even in Difficult Initial Transitions, Hope Remains

The long-term hope for this study has been to give founding pastors, church planting core groups and church sessions working alongside a founding pastor, tools to heighten their awareness surrounding the complexity and inevitability of an initial pastoral transition.

Case Studies of Church Staff Cultures and Associated Factors that Contribute to the Spiritual Health of Full-Time Staff Members

Ed Johnson III D.Min.
According to this researcher, spiritual health, in the context of the Christian faith, is defined as: living a Christ-like lifestyle in thought, in speech and in actions (2 Tim 2:22; Titus 2:12), repenting and abstaining from personal sin (1 John 1:9; 1 Pet 2:11), and growing in communion, reverence and obedience to God (2 Pet 3:18; 1 Pet 1:2). The thesis of this doctoral dissertation is that there are factors within a church staff culture that impact spiritual health of full-time staff members.

At its core, this researcher posited three hypotheses to determine whether a church staff environment or ethos will positively contribute to the spiritual health of the employees who work therein: (1) An intentional ongoing investment in and evaluation of the spiritual health of staff members, (2) A sustained emphasis on both the relationship and task side of the spectrum in the day-to-day staff operations, and (3) A fundamental and predominate adoption of and alignment with biblical concepts and practices. A case study research method was selected for this project as a viable means by which to test the validity of these hypotheses. It examined the staff culture of three local American churches to analyze the results.

In the estimation of this researcher, numerous churches and pastors do not understand or have yet to realize the influence and impact a workplace culture has on their staff members’ spiritual well-being. Consequently, these types of churches and pastors tend not to have an intentional plan to establish or restructure said culture so that it positively contributes to the spiritual health of the staff. This applied research project seeks to bring awareness to this issue and to provide a way forward for churches and pastors to create, cultivate, and maintain staff cultures that foster spiritual health among their full-time staff members.

A study on the indigenous church with Three Self Principle in Sri Lanka through SMC (Sri Lanka Mission Community)

Woong Won Ha
". . . . [T]he author explored . . . the indigenous church with Three Self Principle in Sri Lanka through SMC (Sri Lanka Mission Community) . . . . [T]he author observed a model of indigenous church from the early church and St. Paul to the church history of mission in part one. When he studied the model of indigenous church, he found three Self Principle such as Self-Supporting, Self-Governing, and Self-Propagating for the healthy indigenous church and several attempts in the mission history of the church. In part two, the author researched how to build the healthy indigenous church with three self-principle through 15 churches of SMC for 3 months, in a practical manner. For that, firstly, he provided a consultation with 15 pastors of SMC church and a reporting back to their churches. Secondly, he created a seminar that challenged 15 participants to evaluate their ministries with three self-principle and sought solutions by them. Thirdly, he provided two workshops for feedback, ministry and finance evaluation for the healthy indigenous church with three self-principle. Finally, he concluded this project to find the advantages and disadvantages through an analysis and evaluation." -- Leaf [2].

No Longer Servants, But Friends: Toward a Relational Approach to Spiritual Leadership Development

Rebecca J. Girrell D.Min.
No Longer Servants, but Friends: Toward a Relational Approach to Spiritual Leadership Development is a participatory action research project in which the pastor-researcher and the leadership development team (LDT) of a small United Methodist congregation worked collaboratively to shift the team’s mindset and methods from nominations to leadership development. Using a shared leadership model and tools of appreciative inquiry, the pastor-researcher encouraged the LDT to identify gaps in the church’s leadership system and brainstorm and implement possible solutions. The intervention took place during the 2019-2020 program year and was, therefore, affected by the unanticipated challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and the pastor-researcher’s move to a different church. This allowed the pastor-researcher to observe the LDT’s shift in mindset and methods under the pressure of these circumstances.
The pastor-researcher observed the LDT’s process and outcomes and evaluated the members’ self-reported experiences via questionnaire, group interviews, and meeting transcripts. The key findings of the study illustrated that the LDT members experienced their process favorably, especially as evidenced by adopting the collaborative and systemic approaches they experienced in the intervention and applying these approaches to their work with other church leaders. Additionally, the study found that LDT members reported reduced anxiousness in their tasks, increased confidence in their effectiveness, and strong commitment to their shift in mindset, even in the face of the unanticipated crises. Most LDT members attributed these positive experiences to aspects of the intervention, including shared purpose, understanding of the church leadership system, collaborative leadership, and relationship with the pastor-researcher. The pastor-researcher identified opportunity for further study regarding long-term effects of such interventions and the impacts of interpersonal relationships, particularly with the pastor, on the experience and process of church leadership development.

Closing the Gap Between Surviving and Thriving: Designing Interventions for Adaptive Change with the Vision Implementation Teams at Augusta Road Baptist Church

William Mattison King D.Min.
Augusta Road Baptist Church has served Greenville, South Carolina for ninety-five years. After a season of conflict, declining membership, and the unexpected loss of key leadership, a season of vision has allowed the congregation to ask how it can adapt to live into a thriving future. Utilizing the principles of Adaptive Leadership Theory developed by Ronald Heifetz, this thesis tests the potential of an adaptive change process to facilitate the first steps of congregational vision implementation.

Sixteen Augusta Road Baptist Church leaders were oriented to the principles of Adaptive Leadership Theory and asked to put them into practice. Through team meetings, these participants diagnosed technical and adaptive challenges facing the church, chose an adaptive challenge to address, and designed interventions to develop adaptive capacity within the congregation to help it live into its vision. Participants were also presented with spiritual reflections to facilitate the recognition of the Holy Spirit’s work in leading disruption and adaptation.

After introducing the research context and problem, this thesis traces the biblical, theological, and historical tradition of the Holy Spirit’s role in driving the church to adapt as it bears witness to Christ in changing and challenging contexts. It then explores the impact of an adaptive change process on project participants. It follows project participants as they design interventions for achieving congregational vision, recognize the work of the Holy Spirit in congregational life, and develop adaptive capacity. Finally, this thesis concludes with possibilities for utilizing this adaptive change process across all ministries at Augusta Road Baptist Church and in other congregations that find themselves in adaptive moments.

Case Studies of Multiple Executive Staff Leadership in the Local Church

Matthew Clifton Gillum D.Min.
As the local church grows bigger, the need also arises to manage that growth
well. At the executive level of leadership in the church, the question of excellence in
leadership must be addressed. Some churches have chosen to pursue that excellence via
the means of multiple executive staff leadership in the church. This function looks like
multiple staff members who wield executive leadership ability with a direct report to the
Senior Pastor.

This dissertation examines cases of churches that utilize this structure of
multiple executive staff members. Multiple executive leadership in the local church can
be effective when these following four factors are in place: a commitment to the church’s
vision and senior leadership, clearly defined roles in the ministry team, strategic hiring of
personnel, and flexibility of administration. These four factors were present in all of the
multiple executive staff teams interviewed. While the structure is not a one-size fits all
approach, it can be a helpful way of managing and continuing growth in the local church.

Using Luke's Slave Metaphor to Teach the Biblical Foundations for Financial Stewardship at First Baptist Church of Buffalo Gap, Texas

Charles Leon Gililland
This project evaluated whether a financial stewardship study built around Christ-centered stewardship principles (derived from Luke’s servant parables employing slavery metaphor) instead of practical financial planning could affect change in small group members' financial stewardship habits at First Baptist Church of Buffalo Gap, Texas.
Chapter 1 introduces the financial problem facing the Church today even in the midst of the American financial recovery, and the thesis of the project is presented. In addition, the theological background for the study with exegetical analysis of the Lukan parables is presented.
Chapter 2 outlines the project research plan and methodology. A weekly progress report is also included in this chapter.
Chapter 3 presents the qualitative and quantitative project analysis gathered from both a pre- and post-study survey and a pre- and post-study financial giving report. The chapter concludes with an executive summary that outlines the positive change in group members' habits and suggestions for further implementation of the project.

A Multiple Case Study: Participative Decision-Making in Four Black Indiana Churches

Michael S. Johnson D.Min.
This research study looked at factors in participative decision-making that would balance congregational polity and pastoral authority. A multiple-case study was conducted with four Black Baptist churches in central Indiana. Fifteen participants were interviewed across cases and organizational documents were analyzed. Four themes emerged from the study. They included effectiveness, unified involvement, decision parameters, and trusted leadership. Effectiveness related to support for a decision. Unified Involvement was about members’ sense of belonging. Parameters involved areas where certain groups had discretion in decision-making. Lastly, trusted leadership pertained to the calling of a pastor and the confidence members placed in that calling.
Subscribe to Church administration