A Qualitative Phenomenological Study: The Perceived Affects of Church Governance on Church Leadership and Growth

A Qualitative Phenomenological Study: The Perceived Affects of Church Governance on Church Leadership and Growth

Author: 
James A. Calaway
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The central research questions, “What are the perceptions of lead ministers of Assembly of God churches concerning church attendance growth and decline rates?” and “What are the perceptions of lead ministers of Assembly of God churches concerning factors that affect church attendance growth and decline rates?” served as the foundation of this qualitative phenomenological study. The perceptions, lived experiences, and possible factors that affect church attendance growth and decline, of lead ministers of Assembly of God churches was the foundation of this qualitative phenomenological study. The data collection procedure was semi-structured face-to-face interviews with 13 lead ministers of Assemblies of God churches across the United States. The purpose of the interviews was to ascertain the lived experiences of lead ministers. The results of this study revealed five core themes: Vision, Alignment, Centrality, Change, and Flexibility. Based upon the data analysis, these five core themes are essential to establishing a strong effective local church within the community. The results of this study also revealed that church governance and structure could limit growth and leadership of the church. Recommendations of this study include a shift from follower-focused to leader-focused governance, transition to appointment of leaders, broad and flexible governance for new church plants, and governance and structural focus in church revitalization projects. This study contributes to the body of knowledge on how governance and structure are foundational to the success of the local church. Without leader-focused governance and structure, the local church’s potential to be effective in the community is diminished.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my wife Vicki. Sometimes in life you meet someone who changes the way you think and look at life. Vicki is such a person. Without her support and dedication through this doctoral journey, I could not have made it. You believed in me when I wasn’t sure there was much to believe in. To lead ministers of churches across this nation, men and women who tirelessly serve Jesus Christ, many times with little resources, poor education, meager support, and unsung praise. You are in a battle for the souls of those who Christ died for, stay strong, courageous, and never give up.
Acknowledgements: 
I would like to acknowledge the strength and scholarly support of my dissertation chair, Dr. Richard Schuttler. You have encouraged me to be my best, and challenged me when I was settling for less. Your constant attention to detail and “grounding the findings, recommendations and closing the loop” helped me become the scholar I could not be without you. I also want to acknowledge my committee members Dr. Chris Roberts and Dr. Anshila De Clouette who continued to be a support of encouragement and insight through the entire proposal and dissertation process. I also want to acknowledge my editor Dr. Bradford Wright who was understanding and had high expectations of the quality of my writing. Thank for your diligence and excellence in academic rigor. I would also like to acknowledge the Lead Ministers who shared openly and honestly their perceptions of the church they lead and the church at large through their lived experiences. Their passion, love, and commitment to what they do are incredible and inspired me to dig deeper into my passion, love, and commitment. I would also like to acknowledge my leadership team who took up the leadership roles while I pursued this doctoral degree. Your commitment to the vision and mission of The Gate and InnerMission has never wavered. I could not have led the church as effectively without your commitment.