Date of Award

2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Duane M. Covrig

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Louis Trenta

Abstract

Purpose. People seek for meaning in their work and lives. Researchers have recently conceptualized the experience of meaning at work under the construct workplace spirituality, which describes people's experience of both their work and their workplaces from a spiritual perspective. Recent research in organizations has found a relationship between the spirituality of the leaders and the workplace spirituality of the work units.

Christians often expect their churches to be spiritual workplaces where work will bring a sense of deep spiritual well-being and meaning. Pastors are spiritual leaders in their congregations. However, it is unclear if the practices associated with positive workplace spirituality in non-religious organizations apply to churches. Little is known about the workplace spirituality of churches and its association with the leadership practices of pastors. This study was designed to fill that gap.

The purpose of this study was to examine the correlation between lead ministers' leadership practices and the sense of workplace spirituality experienced by members in churches selected at random across North America.

Method. In the participating churches, leadership practices of the lead ministers were measured using a leadership questionnaire (the Leadership Practices Inventory by Kouzes and Posner), and workplace spirituality dimensions of selected members were measured using a workplace spirituality questionnaire. Regression analysis and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) were used to analyze the gathered data.

Results. Pastors report using the leadership practices of challenging the process, encouraging the heart, and inspiring a shared vision fairly often. Average weekly attendance had a positive relationship with the challenging and vision practices. There were differences (at p < .05) in leadership practices between pastors of Catholic and Protestant churches, pastors of theologically conservative and liberal churches, and male and female pastors.

Members report experiencing high levels of workplace spirituality. There were differences of how members experienced their work (at p < .05) between members who practice their faith consistently and inconsistently, older and younger members, male and female members, Catholic and Protestant members, and theologically conservative and liberal members.

The study found statistically significant relationships (at p < .05) between leadership practices and workplace spirituality, and between the other minister and church variables (such as length of time in ministry and size of church) and workplace spirituality. It also found statistically significant cross-level relationships (at p < .05)between the leadership practices and other member variables (such as age, gender, and Catholic) in relation to workplace spirituality.

Conclusion. Lead ministers report using the leadership practices of encouraging the heart, inspiring a shared vision, and challenging the process to a degree that is very similar to leaders in non-religious organizations.Church members reported very high levels of workplace spirituality. The leadership practices of encouraging the heart and inspiring a shared vision had positive correlations with workplace spirituality; the leadership practice of challenging the process had a negative one.

Subject Area

Religion in the workplace, Clergy--Research, Work environment--Religious aspects, Leadership.

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