What Do Pastors in German-speaking Europe Perceive as Important Leadership Competencies in Order To Be Effective Pastoral Leaders

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education and International Services


Leadership PhD

First Advisor

Erich W. Baumgartner

Second Advisor

Jerome D. Thayer

Third Advisor

Stanley E. Patterson



Leadership competency models for teaching leadership to pastors in the Seventh-day Adventist Church—if used at all—have been adapted from business leadership models. The curricula for seminary leadership courses and continuing education programs in German-speaking Europe are often shaped by objectives that seminary teachers or administrators deem important rather than by a research-based understanding of the competencies Seventh-day Adventist pastors need in order to be successful leaders in their local churches. This study seeks to address this need within the Seventh-day Adventist church in German-speaking Europe by developing a competency model of pastoral leadership.


The study used a mixed-method research design. In the explorative qualitative phase (Phase 1) of the study I worked with five focus groups. Four focus groups consisted of pastors in the Austrian Union, the German-Swiss Conference, the North German Union, and the South German Union. An additional focus group was organized with the conference presidents of the seven German conferences. This phase resulted in a list of 104 competencies encompassing knowledge, skills, abilities, personal, and spiritual characteristics. In Phase 2, a questionnaire was developed listing the 104 competencies from the qualitative phase. I distributed it to 311 ordained Seventh-day Adventist pastors in Austria, Germany and Switzerland to evaluate the competencies from four different perspectives: (a) the importance of the 104 competencies for any pastor, (b) the importance of the 104 competencies in view of one of the churches they were responsible for, (c) the frequency with which they personally used these 104 competencies in their work, and (d) their perception of their own proficiency in each of the competencies. The results were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson correlations coefficient, and ANOVA multiple regression analysis.


Thirty-nine of the 104 competencies from the qualitative study were rated 5.00 and above in importance. Four of them were leadership competencies, four were management competencies and 31 were other competencies. Few regional differences were found in the German-speaking fields except for the North German Union. Only 29.9% of the pastors rated the leadership competencies associated with the core tasks of leadership as high. In contrast, they tended to attribute more importance to those competencies they used on a more frequent basis and with greater proficiency. These results suggest the need for training in actual leadership competencies. Thus, in a final step of Phase 2 a leader competency model was developed to serve as a basis for adjusting the curriculum for pastoral leadership development.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The data and findings that emerged from this study showed the need to understand more adequately and to teach how the basic task of leadership, which is energizing a system for change, relates to pastoral ministry. Since the leadership toolkit of pastors is still limited, a systematic leader development master plan for pastors in German-speaking Europe should be formulated together with a curriculum for teaching leadership on the basis of the leader competency model presented in this study.

Subject Area

Clergy--Europe; Seventh-day Adventists--Clergy; Christian leadership--Seventh-day Adventists



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