Professional Dissertations DMin

Date of Award

2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

College

Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary

Program

Doctor of Ministry DMin

First Advisor

Tom Evans

Second Advisor

Brad Cauley

Third Advisor

John Grys

Abstract

Problem

During the last decade, I observed, in my role as pastor and director, that many churches were overcome with a low level of members-involvement throughout the Conferences I served, especially in the current local churches I pastor, reflected in spiritual discouragement, indifference, and apathy. Upon closer observation of the Pueblo First local church members' relationship and collaboration, I found that only the worship service and two Bible study groups were functioning, with about a dozen individuals in total attending. Some other ministries were also functioning, like the ACS and ACS Disaster Relief, in addition to the church building and grounds upkeep. The local church board accepted a policy that they could function without a board majority because, as they excused themselves: "Anyway, nothing is happening." Subjectively speaking, I had observed that the major underlying issue for the state of the local church at that time was distrust based on past hurts, which the leaders and members also expressed. This led to dysfunction in the leadership team and a low commitment level. The leaders offered the following remarks: "We have a history," "It is hard to move on, after…," "I will not come back until … are present," and similar comments. One of the main issues the church faced was lack of trust and forgiveness. In addition, the church leadership and the congregation had no vision for church growth and its future and, as they stated, they were not directed to have one. Burrill's (1996) ascertainment that "the problem of Seventh-day Adventist Church today is that too many members believe the doctrines but have never really given themselves in total allegiance to the Lordship of Christ in their lives" (p. 120) was tangible in almost every congregation. This state of mind and spirit of the church members needed revitalization and new investment in God's economy through the lives of the church leaders and in the lives of all the believers. The church leaders lacked the abilities and tools to bring forward any change and renewal in the church environment; hence I as local pastor, had to engage in leadership empowerment through coaching and by using wholistic stewardship principles.

Method

This research was assessed with a clear goal of measuring the impact that coaching church leaders for revitalization would have on the local church leaders' quality of leadership and engagement with the broader church community for increasing church attendance and loving relationships. The volunteer leaders received the book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way you Lead Forever by Stanier (2016). I coached them and trained the other individual ministry leaders simultaneously. Besides my qualitative assessment of the local church leaders using the 3 Colors of Leadership® Empowerment Test® to determine the leader's influence tendency, an additional qualitative and quantitative assessment of the congregation through the Natural Church Development (NCD) Survey® and GALLUP® Member Engagement Test® ME25® comparison showed the effectiveness of the empowerment coaching method. In addition, I have developed the phrase "steward coaching," which is similar to Stanier's "empowerment coaching" (2016) in apparent vulnerability of the coach, in feeling the lack of usefulness and conversational control. The Lordship of the Godhead and the recognition of Their ultimate will are the main differences, so the coaching process becomes a walk along with the coachee as he or she discovers how to find and listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Webb, 2015).

Results

The research verified that coaching local church leaders helped qualitatively improve their spiritual maturity, resolve personal issues that were disabling them from functioning as spiritual leaders, and consequently, empower them to lead and coach others. It categorically proved that the leaders could complete the renewal and revitalization process during the COVID-19 pandemic by using innovative methods of communication for coaching and training. By empowering the coachees, they could find new methods outside the traditional church function to organize associates and church members to function and grow ministries, participation, and church attendance. COVID-19 affected in-person church attendance due to national and state lockdowns; however, through empowerment coaching and leadership, the church leaders' entrepreneurial spirit, new approaches, and methods were implemented to regain overall attendance, grow it, and expand member-involvement. In addition, the leaders' influence tendency according to the 3 Colors of Leadership® Empowerment Test®, was overwhelmingly empowering since, except for one individual, all of them had natural empowering leadership skills. I found that the leaders' predisposition also contributed to successful church revitalization.

Conclusions

Coaching local church leaders proved to be a multifaceted tool for healing the leaders that can heal and grow members and increase the churches’ ability to revitalize and grow qualitatively and quantitatively. Besides the anticipated findings based on the literature review, I found that in most cases, the church leaders could not function as empowering leaders due to unresolved spiritual, personal, relational, and professional issues. Once these issues were addressed, the leaders' readiness and enthusiasm for addressing church-related ideas grew exponentially. These findings behoove church revitalizers, pastors, administrations, and even seminaries to pay closer attention to a wholistic approach to local church leaders' empowerment, not only to a methodology for the quantitative outcome of any initiative or program. Furthermore, the church organizations, administration, and educational institutions alike must provide a wholistic approach to church leadership and ministry equality in caring for the leaders and the quantitative outcome. As much as the local church needs a pastor-revitalizer, lasting results, and health, it will happen if its local leaders are empowered and trained to be steward coaches.

Subject Area

Christian leadership; Pueblo First Seventh-day Adventist Church (Pueblo, Colo.); Church renewal; Mentoring in church work; Pastoral theology

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