Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Communication, MA

First Advisor

Desrene Vernon-Brebnor

Second Advisor

Stanley Patterson

Third Advisor

Lynn Caldwell



The Seventh-day Adventist Church (SDA) is a complex and multilayered nonprofit organization (NPO), with carefully outlined policies and guidelines for almost every aspect of the organization. However, the philosophical or structural framework that guides communication within the organization is not clear. It is my hypothesis, having been a member and employee of the organization for almost 30 years, that not having such a structure has led to the creation of a fragmented culture of communication, which is observable in local congregations. This research assesses this phenomenon at the Goshen SDA Church, in Chicago, IL, and seeks to answer the following question: What is the system of communication at the Goshen SDA Church as perceived by the ministry and department leaders, based on the systems perspective of organizational communication?


The purpose of this correlation study is to assess the current system of inter-departmental communication at the Goshen SDA Church, in light of the major tenets of the systems theory of organizational communication. The survey was designed to cover and collect data across five major sections, these are: (1) general information of the participants, (2) the independent nature of the ministries and departments, (3) the living or non-living nature of the churches’ system of communication, (4) the open or closed nature of the system of communication, and (5) the interdependence and connectedness of the ministries and departments.


The data was collected using a self-administered, web-based survey hosted on, which also provided a detailed analysis of the collected responses. The data was then imported into SPSS, for further analysis with the aid of a data analyst, Laura Carrol, where association and regression tests were conducted. Descriptive statistics were then used to interpret the perceived reality of the leaders based on the recommendations of the theory.


The study confirmed my assumptions and revealed a significant breakdown in the system of communication, among the heads of departments, at the Goshen SDA Church. The data also revealed that though by nature the Goshen SDA Church is a living and open organism, the system of communication is more readily identifiable to that of non-living and closed systems. Other critical areas, such as interdependence, and connectedness were also perceived as poor among departments.

Subject Area

Communication--Religious aspects; Church management; Goshen Seventh-day Adventist Church (Chicago, Ill.)

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.