Project Documents

Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

School

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Stanley E. Patterson

Second Advisor

David Penno

Third Advisor

Russell Burrill

Abstract

Problem. Most Seventh-day Adventist churches in Western Ontario are not growing. Elders are present in every Seventh-day Adventist church. However, practices and responsibilities of elders differ from church to church. There is no network among elders for support and leadership development. The expectation is that the vocational pastor will solve problems and produce church growth, yet, contradictory, indecision exists among elders about whose responsibility it is to grow a church. Elders do not have certainty about biblical expectations laid upon them. They do not entirely function according to the job description outlined in the denominational handbook. Ideas about what the biblical leadership is differ from church to church. In my opinion improving the Empowerment quality in Leadership will positively affect the growth of local churches.

Method. Leadership practices of local churches in Western Ontario District were examined through Focus Groups. Intentional teamwork among elders of all district churches was under development for three years. Lack of consistency among churches prevented further teamwork development. For the purpose of examining motivational factors of empowering leadership, the teamwork was continually worked on at the London (South) Seventh-day Adventist Church. All five conventional categories of leadership improvement were put in place before the new concept of the Trinitarian Leadership model (see formal definition in the Definitions of Terms in Chapter 1) was introduced to see if its motivational factor will improve elders’ commitment to church health and growth. Standards and expectations were monitored through the Natural Church Development (NCD) survey tool. It was used annually to measure quality of leadership of elders and ministry leaders along with other seven quality characteristics of church health. Recommendations and suggestions were made to enhance the work of a local elder.

Results. The initial cooperation and the teamwork of district churches produced a momentum for growth, which was not sustainable in the long run. Process of putting in place all conventional requirements for leadership did not produce an improvement in the Leadership Empowerment quality according to the NCD survey. The local church, where the project continued and the Trinitarian Leadership model was introduced, experienced significant improvement in elders’ efforts and practices. As a result the final NCD scores revealed a strong increase in Empowering Leadership, corroborated in patterns of giving and general members’ participation in church life.

Conclusion. More research is needed toward developing the Theology of Leadership. The Trinitarian Leadership model has to be tested in other churches as well. The experience of local elders of the London (South) Seventh-day Adventist church is influencing churches in the district as they take preaching appointments to surrounding district churches monthly. The positive learning of the Trinitarian Leadership model by London (South) elders is yet to impact other district churches. It is anticipated that the church growth in London will attract the interest and provide an opportunity to guide other churches for growth.

Subject Area

Elders (Church officers)--Seventh-day Adventists, Christian leadership, Seventh-day Adventists--Canada--Ontario, Western

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