Church administration

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.

Equipping staff parish relations committees to have crucial conversations that lead to greater syzygy with staff and improved performance

John A. Laughlin Sr.
Syzygy is to be a team that moves as one, pulling powerfully in the same direction. In the United Methodist Church, the Staff Parish Relations Committee has the responsibility to supervise the work of church staff, but too many are faltering in their duties. This project details a workshop designed to guide the church in becoming more effective in directing and supervising the work of staff. Participants will learn how to create a culture of trust and accountability that leads to improved staff performance. Failing to manage staff, ignoring division, and tolerating poor performance is bad stewardship.

[Note about entry: Abstract submitted to the Atla RIM database on behalf of the author. The text appears in its entirety as it does in the original abstract page of the author’s project paper. Neither words nor content have been edited.]

The Impact of a Staff Performance Management System on Performance Outcomes and Employee Commitment in a Private, Christian, Higher Education Institution

Janis Lynn Ryder D.Min.
This thesis explored performance management in a private, Christian, Canadian, higher education institution. A Model for Effective Performance Management was developed which served as a framework for a participatory action research project that piloted a staff performance review process and tool aimed at improving employee performance and organizational commitment of university staff employees. Seven university departments were part of the pilot project which included participating in supervisor training, testing a new performance review process and tool, and providing post-pilot feedback.
Post-pilot online survey results and interviews with leaders demonstrated a higher rate of completed performance reviews, increased competency and comfort level of supervisors/appraisers to lead performance review conversations, and increased employee commitment and performance resulting from the performance review experience.
There are opportunities for HR professionals, churches, and para-church organizations to use and benefit from this research and the Model for Effective Performance Management.

Navigating organizational and leadership challenges as an assistant pastor, serving in an interim pastoral role

Joel David Hathaway
The purpose of this study was to explore how assistant pastors navigate challenges of adaptive leadership when the church loses its senior pastor, and the assistant pastor is expected to lead through the transition. A qualitative research methodology was employed to explore the scope of this topic. This study found that the exiting senior pastor, existing assistant/interim pastor, incoming senior pastor, and congregation all play active roles in guaranteeing success during pastoral transitions. This sh1dy also identified steps churches and pastors can take to retire outdated leadership models while integrating collaborative leadership methods that prepare congregations for periods of transition.
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