Leadership, Religious

Equipping Advent Health Leaders to Hold Team Members Accountable Through Hard Conversations

David L Kennedy D.Min.
Many leaders at AdventHealth avoid holding those they are leading accountable through hard conversations. This affects both the performance of the team they are leading, as well as the organizational health of the hospital. As this project demonstrated, it can also affect the mental health of the leader, leading to feelings of isolation and shame. This problem was addressed through a twelve-week intervention on how to navigate accountability conversations consisting of reading, group meetings, role-playing, and mentoring. The project utilized a qualitative, phenomenological method to explore the lived experiences of each of the participants. The specific behavioral changes sought were decreased avoidance of crucial conversations and an increase in perceived effectiveness at navigating them. Participants were selected using the Style Under Stress Assessment (SUSA), setting a baseline for avoidance and perceived effectiveness. Pre- and post-project semi-structured interviews were also conducted, and participants took the SUSA again after the intervention to determine whether avoidance had decreased and perceived effectiveness had increased. The result was that participants not only increased in their perceived effectiveness and decreased their avoidance of these difficult discussions, but feelings of isolation were replaced with relational connection and shame was replaced with “tentative confidence”.


Cor M Chmieleski D.Min.
The purpose of this project was to identify common challenges facing leaders in the
second generation of large churches. This was the reality of Hope Community Church
Downtown (HCC DT) in Minneapolis, MN at the time of this paper’s formation. Specific areas
of challenge which have been explored include growth from small to large and transitions in
leadership between generation and senior leaders. The fortification of the church depends on
building an accurate list of common challenges that can be later addressed by church staff and

The process utilized to accomplish that purpose included robust biblical and literature
research followed by interviews with seven pastors serving in churches similar to HCC DT. The
initial research led to a preliminary list of challenges which were then utilized in interviews to
determine their relative validity within the lived experiences of pastors. Analysis of the research
and field work revealed five significant findings churches must address for the sake of long-term
endurance: (1) Answer the question, “Who are we today?”, (2) Address unavoidable realities, (3)
Foster the following, (4) Protect against these, and (5) Achieve success in pastoral succession.
Each of these is explained and illustrated with real-life examples from within local churches.

Upon completion of this project, a list of common challenges was presented to the elders
and staff of HCC DT. It was then their responsibility to read, discuss, pray, and respond to the
challenges addressed herein.

Faith-Driven Impact Investing: Renewing a Belief that an Investment in Entrepreneurialism and Commerce is Central to God's Plan of Redemption and Human Flourishing

Jonathan Mark Halverson D.Min.
This project addressed the need for a renewed belief among faith-driven investors that investments in redemptive businesses is central to God’s plan of redemption and biblical human flourishing. The explosive growth of values-aligned investing, such as Socially Responsible Investing and impact investing, has opened the door to introducing values into investment decision-making. There are significant opportunities for Christ followers to align their biblical values with their investment strategies, and to “put to work” (Matt. 25:16) resources apportioned to them by God; however, they have been slow to embrace the opportunities. Research was conducted to understand the underlying biblical-theological beliefs of high-net-worth individuals and wealth management advisors that support or discourage faith-driven impact investing. The parable of the talents was dissected to understand Jesus’ intent when he chose the Greek word talanton to communicate his leadership expectation to his closest follower. The Quakers are highlighted as an example of a group that embraced commerce as a primary strategy for expressing their faith, providing for their families, developing young leaders, and engaging with the world. The research findings were synthesized into a new biblical-theological framework for Kingdom Impact Investing that is offered as a model for the growing faith-driven impact investing movement. A major goal of this project was to contribute to the broader biblical-theological conversation regarding the integration of faith and investing. Values-driven Christ followers should be on the leading edge of impact investing instead of lagging far behind.

Best Practices for Transformational Discipleship in North Dakota Assembly of God Churches

Jack Donald Jones III D.Min.
The researcher constructed this project to discover best practices for transformational discipleship in the local church. The researcher provided the theological and biblical framework for transformational discipleship from Romans 12, exploring current literature on discipleship models and discipleship practices in the Assemblies of God denomination. The researcher created the project instrument from two sources: literature identifying recommendations of best practices for transformational discipleship in the local church and participants’ views regarding discipleship. The researcher then traveled to the North Dakota Network District Sectional meeting. Questionnaires were distributed and face-to-face interviews were conducted. The data was then analyzed and coded for prevailing discipleship tendencies.The researcher identified two findings for best practices for transformational discipleship in the local church: (a) church leadership’s responsibility for equipping the local church with discipleship small groups, materials, and training, and (b) spiritual discipline as important to transformational discipleship in the local church.

Investigating and Increasing the Efficiency and Effectiveness of the Children’s Ministry at Victory Church of Melbourne, Florida

Stanley R Patton D.Min.
The purpose of this study was to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the children’s ministry at Victory Church of Melbourne, Florida, a growing multicultural and multigenerational church. Conversations with the children’s ministry team, parents, child participants, and the senior pastor of Victory indicated that changes needed to be implemented in order to grow the ministry. This project used a case study methodology, focusing on a church with similar demographics as Victory, to discover the underlying factors needed to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of Victory’s children’s ministry. To test the working theory that an increase in resources, team leadership, and parental involvement leads to increased effectiveness and efficiency, surveys were sent to three children’s ministry leaders from the case study church. Interviews were then conducted to follow up on survey responses. The resulting quantitative and qualitative data was analyzed using the Qualtrics platform. The findings suggest that there are five components needed to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the children’s ministry at Victory Church: a vision/philosophy of children’s ministry based on the great commission; adequate resources/funding for the children’s ministry; key staff leadership; parental involvement; and strategic planning and the development of organizational systems.

Healthy Parenting in the Family System

Brian Malvig D.Min.
In the New Testament, there are several passages that illustrate the way in which Christians are to interact with each other. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Romans 12:3-5, and Ephesians 4:4-5 the apostle Paul describes the connection Christians have with one another as being like a body. Through Jesus Christ, Christians are all connected in this body, the body of Christ. Between 1950 and 1960, Murray Bowen began to develop an integrative theory of the family which he called “family systems theory” (FST). FST describes the family as one emotional unit rather than a collection of autonomous people. The theory describes humans as living in relationships with emotional connections. These connections pass the anxiety of family members to each member of the family system along interconnected pathways. This idea was a departure from the linear causation theories espoused at the time Bowen proposed his theory. Bowen described anxiety—defined in this project as a reaction to a threat that is real or imagined—as existing in two foundational forms, chronic and acute. Chronic anxiety can be passed through family generations and often shows up in recurring generational patterns and similarities. Although family systems theory was developed based on the assumption that humans are a product of evolution, this project has shown the connection between FST and biblical doctrines and theology. This project has shown that FST can be a valuable tool for Pastors and parents as they observe their congregation or family’s emotional reactivity. It also shows that through a better understanding of the doctrine of sanctification and the body of Christ, they will improve their own family’s emotional connections and bring about a healthier family system.

Ambition and Leading Teams Effectively

Nicholas R Ruport D.Min.
The problem that this project addressed was the impact of ambition and ambitious leaders in relation to team effectiveness. In response to this problem the researcher explored the biblical foundations of ambition and ambitious leadership, with special interest in one’s ambition being aimed at knowing God more fully, fulfilling God’s mission, and glorifying God. He reviewed literature related to CliftonStrengths, team leadership, and the practice of the first-among-equals in teams with attention to the CliftonStrength of Competition and its connection to ambition. He conducted two case studies by way of interviews with four pastors who had Competition as a top five CliftonStrength and six pastors who did not. From the thesis findings the researcher developed a set of eight strategic principles of successful team leadership for the ambitious pastor.Of these eight principles, four of them were shared principles among all team leaders with an additional four principles being uniquely geared for the ambitious pastor to lead teams most effectively. The shared principles of team leadership for all pastors included being aimed at God (knowing God, glorifying God, fulfilling God’s mission), providing stability, relational investment, and growth investment. The four unique principles for the ambitious leader included building trust, promoting unity, setting an example through one’s work ethic, and creating, measuring, and celebrating wins. When applied, these principles would positively impact the team leadership of an ambitious and competitive pastor.

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.

Identificación de Factores Que Contribuyen al Crecimiento de ta Sede Hispanohablante del Modelo Multisitio de Grace Church, in Greenville, Carolina del Sur.

Robby Richard D.Min.
El objetivo de la presente investigación es identificar los factores, desde la perspectiva del liderazgo de la iglesia, que contribuyen al crecimiento de la sede hispanohablante de Grace Church, en Greenville, Carolina del Sur, EE. UU., y, por ende, que contribuyen al alcance de la comunidad hispanohablante en su contexto con el evangelio.

El modelo de iglesia multisitio está formado por congregaciones que se consideran parte de una misma iglesia local y se reúnen en diferentes lugares geográficos y espacios físicos. A pesar de que no cuenta con una larga trayectoria de años, ya ha evidenciado signos positivos de eficacia para el alcance evangelístico de diversas comunidades pluriculturales. Estas huellas de competencia del modelo se hacen visibles en resultados observables en la experiencia práctica de su aplicación y en datos disponibles en diversas fuentes.

La presente investigación reveló que los factores propuestos en las hipótesis formuladas son, en efecto, válidos. Además, aportó información valiosa sobre otras dos características específicas del ámbito organizacional y eclesial que fortalecen la relación entre la sede hispanohablante y la iglesia anglohablante. Estas constituyen la base esencial para la efectividad de los elementos propuestos en las hipótesis.

Para aquellas iglesias que deseen implementar el modelo multisitio, es recomendable tomar en cuenta el entorno demográfico donde se desea abrir una sede, las características propias del tipo de la comunidad eclesial que se desea, y los principios únicos que cimientan toda comunidad hispana.
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