Dallas Theological Seminary

In-Depth Interviews with Predecessors and Successors on Cultivating Excellence in Leadership Transitions in the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC) Head Office

Leadership transitions are common worldwide. This study took place in Ethiopia and explored the perceptions of the Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church (EKHC) leaders’ advice to ensure a biblically based and contextually appropriate leadership transition strategy in the EKHC head office regarding predecessors and successors. It attempted to answer what these leaders perceive will ensure biblically and contextually appropriate leadership transition strategies. The study used the qualitative research design of in-depth interviews with twenty respondents (10 predecessors and 10 successors) who were purposefully selected from EKHC leadership constituents.

The findings showed that the following aspects are vital for the smooth leadership transitions within the EKHC Head Office: (1) succession plan, (2) developing potential or tomorrow’s leaders through mentoring and coaching, (3) an attitude of Christlike humility, (4) election season events, (5) discipleship, (6) appreciative culture, and (7) relationship gaps.

Furthermore, based on the findings, implications were found for practical application in smoothening leadership transitions: (1) introducing and developing a succession plan, (2) developing leaders through mentoring and coaching, (3) building an attitude of Christlike humility in predecessors and successors, (4) improving election season events, (5) cultivating discipleship in the lives of leaders, (6) nurturing an appreciative culture, and (7) building relationship in order to make leadership transitions healthy.

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.


Rhonda Kaye Kamakawiwoole D.Ed.Min.
Given the world’s plurality of worldviews, transformation to the biblical worldview—God’s understanding of reality—remains the paramount task of Christian parents and the church in cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Christian parents are to impress God's commands on their children so the next generation might come to know, love, and serve Him (Deut 6:6-7). Jesus charges the church to make disciples, baptize, and teach others to obey his commands (Matt 28:19-20), yet, spiritual formation is not the target it should be for most Christian families and the American church. The literature reveals a general lack in understanding of the biblical worldview in Christians across generations, and thus, believers lack confidence and motivation to share God’s worldview with others.
This study sought to evaluate the effectiveness of a workshop designed to address transformation in the comprehension, commitment, and intended conduct of participants to train others to the biblical worldview. Statistical analysis revealed participants changed in understanding, confidence, and motivation toward engaging in further growth to the biblical worldview and training others to it. Anecdotal information gathered from comments on the post-training survey provided additional evidence of the above, as well as qualitative evidence demonstrating participants changed in their commitment to share God’s truth with others and planned for future change in this “commissioned” area for Christ.
The workshop effectively addressed the lack of intentionality about growing in and sharing the biblical worldview with others. The study showed adult Christians of all ages are more likely to engage in sharing the biblical worldview with others once they better understand the distinctives of the biblical worldview, gain confidence in their knowledge and abilities and are motivated to share it, and are equipped with models for training others to the biblical worldview.


David Alan Shaffer D.Min.
This project seeks to answer the research question, “Does an eight-week, small group-based Bible study course for married couples strengthen the marriage relationships of its participants?” Today’s most effective marriage programs focus on important themes relevant to marriage and include transparency, a biblical foundation, and gentle accountability. Still, the question follows, “What comes next to further strengthen marriages?” This project answers this question with a process-based Bible study that, because of its design, strengthens the marriage relationship with improved communication, conflict resolution, and increased overall marital satisfaction (the three measures of this project). This methodology includes weekly individual study, couple discussion, and small group interaction.
Through the use of pre- and post-course surveys, the couples who participated in a study of Galatians provided ample quantitative research that yielded group, couples, and gender statistics. The couples’ data was measured by Positive Couple Agreement (PCA), which identifies couples’ responses as a relational strength when they choose the same response or are within one choice of each other (4 [agree] or 5 [strongly agree] on a positively worded statement, 2 [disagree] or 1 [strongly disagree] on a negatively worded statement).
The researcher designed Galatians: True Freedom – A Small Group Study for Couples to implement the new methodology to be evaluated. The quantitative data based on the pre- and post-course surveys provided the means to prove whether the three measures strengthened the marriages of the participating couples. The data supports the veracity of all three hypotheses (improved communication, improved conflict resolution, and increased overall marital satisfaction), showing strong growth in each measure, most notably with communication. These results led to the research conclusion: Yes, the methodology used in this eight-week, small group-based Bible study course for married couples developed for this applied research project did strengthen the marriage relationships of its participants.

Overcoming Obstacles to Churches Planting Churches

Brent Frederick Burckart D.Min.
The thesis of this dissertation is that existing churches can successfully overcome common obstacles to planting new churches when church leaders learn to adopt three vital practices: communicating a compelling vision for church planting to their congregations, cultivating a spirit of bold faith within their congregations, and implementing a sustainable church planting strategy for their congregations.

The literature review will survey some of the key literature and research on church planting generally and on the mother-daughter model of church planting specifically. Using the case study method, three churches that have successfully overcome obstacles to develop an ongoing rhythm of planting daughter churches will be analyzed through interviews and surveys. From the findings of these cases, applications will be drawn to assist other churches seeking to regularly plant daughter churches.

Work Perspectives, The Sacred/Secular Divide, and Workplace-Related Preaching, Equipping, and Church Support

Joy P. Dahl D.Min.
This study explored perspectives of work and workers, as well as potential connections between these perspectives and a lack of workplace-related preaching, equipping, and support provided by the church to congregants. This research, founded on a biblical theology of work, identifies implications for understanding church dynamics, and for dismantling beliefs and practices upholding the unbiblical sacred/secular divide.

The research engaged two groups within one church: pastors/paid church staff and congregants. The survey focused on: (1) value of work inside versus outside the church; (2) value of workers inside versus outside the church; (3) importance of work-related topics for preaching, equipping, and support within the church; and (4) adequacy of pastor/staff understanding of non-church workplaces and their ability to help congregants address workplace issues. This Doctor of Ministry project represents a unique study which evaluates perspectives of church workers and non-church workers within one church body regarding a primary area of everyday life often unaddressed or under-addressed by the church.

Two descriptive surveys, one for each group, garnered a 69.01% response rate from 71 pastors/staff, and a 9.62% response rate from 5,113 congregants. The surveys gathered quantitative responses, except for two qualitative responses regarding workplace demographics (for congregants only) which assisted the church in understanding the makeup of its non-church workers. The results of the surveys revealed that both pastors/staff and congregants within this church placed similar, high value on church and non-church work and workers. However, these perspectives did not translate into pastors/staff attributing high importance to work-related topics within church practices when compared to other topics. Additionally, both groups affirmed an inadequate understanding by pastors/staff of non-church workplaces and the daily issues congregants face.

The final chapter includes conclusions of the study and implications for future research. It also provides recommendations of potential next steps for the church.


Steven Charles Lucas D.Ed.Min.
The purpose of this study was to document the formal and non-formal education experiences and perceived educational needs of the pastors of the Asociación de Iglesias Bíblicas Costarricenses (AIBC). The AIBC is an association of 170 Bible churches led by 131 pastors throughout Costa Rica that arose out of the Latin American Mission in 1945.
A descriptive survey was used to collect the data relevant to the research questions. It was hypothesized that the results would show little to no improvement compared to data culled from a 1999 study which revealed that among AIBC pastors 13% reported completing high school, 32% were in or had been to a Bible Institute, and 20% were in or had been to seminary.
The findings indicated that there had been significant improvement among the member pastors in both formal secular education and formal ministry education. Participation in non-formal ministry education was high as expected. However, satisfaction in the quality of ministry education varied widely among areas of ministry training and from institution to institution. There remains ample room for improvement in both the formal and non-formal education sectors, especially in the areas of church administration/finance, counseling, and evangelism.
The study concludes with specific recommendations for the AIBC.


Nakhati Jon D.Ed.Min.
Islamic marriage is a contract, and biblical marriage is a covenant. These two principles intersect and form a point of reestablishment in the marriages of believers from a Muslim background (BMBs).

Islamic contractual marriage ideas remain in marital relationships of BMBs. The intent of this study is to explore and understand the influence of Islamic contractual marriage on believers who now embrace the ideas of Christian covenant marriage.

The qualitative research will explore the believers’ understanding of their Islamic contractual marriage and their beliefs concerning biblical covenant marriage. BMBs retain a contractual view of marriage because they have not applied the ideas of covenant marriage, thereby affecting negatively their spousal relationships. Additionally, the use of certain cultural and religious terms reinforces their understanding of their marital relationship, often reflecting either a contractual or covenant perspective.

For BMBs and missionaries there is a deficiency of available literature that compares and explains the differences between the Islamic and biblical views of marriage. This study hopes to be a foundational resource to highlight areas which possibly are retained in these marriages.


Don Laing D.Min.
The challenge of the Chinese immigrant church (CIC) in America is the ongoing departure of its second-generation, American-born Chinese (ABC), now commonly called the “silent exodus.” The Overseas Born Chinese (OBC) leaders of these CICs need to champion a clear and compelling vision of reaching these ABCs that rises above retention. In addition, these OBC leaders will need to incorporate two more practices to reach their second-generation: (1) embrace a biblical culture above either culture of origin and (2) create processes that empowers the second-generation in leadership. This research project evaluated these three practices within three churches that were determined to be reaching their second-generation.
This dissertation was divided into three parts. It opened with a literature review that examined each of the three practices relating to vision, culture and leadership. The dissertation then continued with the construction of the research procedure, utilizing the case study approach. Three Chinese immigrant churches were chosen for this study: Houston Chinese Church, Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles and West Houston Chinese Church. The qualitative research method was applied to handle the field research portion of this study including but not limited to site visits, interviews, and the follow-up questionnaire. The findings of this project were discussed and evaluated regarding the significance of them and the recommendations for future study. The case studies affirmed the significance of each of the three hypotheses.
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