Professional Dissertations DMin
Creating a Leader Development Strategy for Lay Church Plant Leaders in the Texas Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
The Texas Conference has a strong emphasis on church planting. Since 2001 more than 115 churches have been planted throughout the conference. This rapid growth was possible because 107 of those churches were started by lay planters supported by an assigned coach. However, after studying the Texas Conference Church Plant database, we discovered that only 45% have experienced growth and 55% have plateaued or are declining. It appears that the reasons for this difference may be the lack of adequate coaching and training for the lay leader to enable effective leadership in the church plant.
A leadership development process with a coaching system was created to be used in a one-year cycle to equip the lay leader. A pilot project was initiated in the Dallas area with Slay-led church plants to experiment with the program before its full implementation in the Texas Conference. In addition, using three different instruments, I evaluated the leadership development process to determine the effectiveness of the program and how the lay leader was progressing in his learning. The data collected from the report helped identify deficiencies in the program as well as its positive achievements. Furthermore, a pre- and post-training congregational questionnaire was administered to the participant church plants before, during and after the program started as a means of evaluating the health, progress and impact of the program on the church plant.
Six lay church plant leaders participated in the twelve month training. They met monthly for training and connected at least once a month with their coach for continued support and mentoring. The data collected from assessments presented in this project revealed a positive impact of this process in the life of the participant as well as in the church plant. Each church plant selected 6 individuals to participate in the pre-training and in the post-training assessments with a total of thirty-six individuals participating. They responded to a twenty-five question assessment that included five categories: mission, vision, and core values; leadership competency; character; spiritual development; and, ministry development. The mean scores of the post-training surveys were significantly improved over the pre-training survey. In each of the five question areas, the mean score improved no less .50 on a 1-5 Likert scale. The comments provided by the congregation reinforced the post-training survey results. The results of the research affirmed the effectiveness of a mentoring/coaching model of leader development in improving the church plant self-perception of leadership quality.
The conclusion reached as the result of this research is that Leader Development for Lay Church Plant Leaders can have a positive impact on those who participate in it. With personal experiences, classroom seminars, peer-mentoring relationships, and skill-building activities, the participants gained important knowledge to lead their church plants well.