Project Documents

Date of Award


Document Type

Project Report

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry


Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary


Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Doug Tilstra

Second Advisor

David Penno

Third Advisor

Boubakar Sanou



The former elders' use of stern domineering leadership behaviors at Three Angels Fellowship Church led to a schism that caused deleterious effects and lingering debility. This schismatic experience left the church body suspicious toward the remaining elders' leadership style. The church lost lay leaders, church members, financial support, and was losing ministry opportunities because the congregation dreaded authoritarian leadership. It was clear that the biblical model of servant leadership needed to be applied by the remaining elders. This study dealt with the ministry challenges at Three Angels Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church by equipping the board of elders to discover the praxis of servant leadership in order for them to become effective servant leaders.


This is a mixed method research study that qualitatively and quantitatively investigated the servant leadership relations of Patterson’s (2003) seven virtuous constructs: (a) love, (b) humility, (c) altruism, (d) trust, (e) vision, (f) empowerment and (g) service in a pre/post test design among the Three Angels Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist church elders. A six-month reflection intervention was implemented between the pre-test and post-test. Research treatments comprised of six leadership articles were introduced during monthly progress meetings with the board of elders. Data were obtained from the Three Angels Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist church members using the Servant Leadership Assessment Instrument and from the elders' monthly progress meetings. Structural Equation Modeling using the PROC CALIS procedure tested six hypotheses to determine whether church members noticed any discernable changes in the board of elders’ developmental growth.


Quantitative differences were determined in the pre and post data. In the pre-data, three hypotheses (H1–H3) of the being category were supported. In the post-data, two hypotheses (H1–H2) of the being category were supported. Qualitative relational changes in trust were established between church members and the board of elders during and after the intervention period. The statistical analysis conducted on the six hypotheses (H1–H6) measuring the board of elders' love, with humility, altruism, trust, vision, empowerment and service, indicated a positive significant linear relationship. Path analysis using the PROC CALIS procedure determined four paths to be statistically significant. Three paths supported the pre-data and one path the post-data. The statistical comparison between the pre-data and post-data concluded that the three pre-data paths; altruism from the being qualities of H3 (trust); trust from the doing qualities of H5 (empowerment); and altruism from the doing qualities of H6 (service), all supported the pre-data. However, trust alone from the H6 (service) path of the doing qualities favored the post-data. Theological foundations in servant leadership theory arose primarily from an investigation of the Holy Spirit as a servant leader. Seven theological servant leadership principles emerged largely from the servant leadership ministry of the Holy Spirit. These seven theological principles, referred to as applied principles, were: (a) the Holy-Spirit-Infected (H.S.I.) person tests positive for the fruit, (b) the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23, King James Version) are the virtues in a person's character recognizable by the community of faith, (c) the fruit of love integrates all the other eight fruit of the Spirit into one chain, and all development come out of love, (d) for the believer, the fruit of the Spirit is the byproduct of the Holy Spirit working in a person, (e) the greatest gift a believer can give to others is his or her effectiveness of living a Spirit-led and a Spirit-served Life, (f) the believer partners with the paraklêtos (Holy Spirit) to serve along side others and (g) for the believer, the purpose of the gifts of the Spirit (Rom 12:6–8; 1 Cor 12:4–11, 28; Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 4:11, King James Version) is to receive competencies to contribute toward the leadership process of growing and nurturing the body of Christ. The applied principles that were discovered were integrated with Patterson's (2003) seven virtuous constructs and put to practical use during the monthly progress meetings with the elders. The quantitative results of measuring Patterson’s virtuous constructs, the qualitative outcomes of the treatment articles as well as applying the seven theological servant leadership principles, revealed statistical difference and practical significance in the board of elders' servant leading behavior.


Post-test evaluation of the board of elders' after undergoing the six-month intervention, revealed that church members found them to be trustworthy. Trust was a highly significant finding in the post-data evaluation of the elders. Therefore, it was concluded that an observable quantifiable difference occurred in the trust relations of the board of elders' and the congregation. Trust was also confirmed qualitatively by the relationship of the elders with other church leaders, particularly the Three Angels Fellowship executive church board. Church board members no longer found it necessary to have oversight of all board of elders monthly meetings. Doubt among church leaders decreased while perceived trustworthiness of the board of elders' increased. The Three Angels Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist church is a stronger, healthier and friendlier congregation today than it was in the years following the split. Trust was restored at Three Angels Fellowship as indicated by the qualitative and quantitative findings. As a result of the study, the board of elders has become more effective at serving and leading. The elders were served by the Holy Spirit with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23) and led by the gifts of the Spirit (Rom 12:6–8; 1 Cor 12:4–11, 28; Eph 4:11; 1 Pet 4:11). In short, the elders’ skills have improved as a result of the treatment articles, the applied principles, Patterson’s (2003) virtuous constructs, and by their overall participation in the servant leadership study of this dissertation.

Subject Area

Christian leadership; Servant leadership--Religious aspects--Seventh-day Adventists; Three Angels Fellowship Seventh-day Adventist Church (Rockford, Mich.)