Doctor of Ministry

Year Approved


First Advisor

Cochrum, Ken


This project addresses the dwindling number of people active in leadership roles at Marshfield Christian Church. Research focused on four aspects of church leadership: barriers and incentives to assuming a leadership role, characteristics of leaders, models for structuring leadership, and equipping the congregation to participate in leadership. The researcher conducts a biblical and theological research on leadership in the New Testament, membership in the New Testament and the implications of relational theology on church leadership. A literature review on collaborative leadership, employee engagement, and changes in volunteering adds to the research. The field research for this project comprises surveys and focus groups conducted at Marshfield Christian Church and two other Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) congregations in southwest Missouri, interviews with the pastors of the two other congregations, and field notes from the researcher’s experiences as pastor of Marshfield Christian Church. These data sources were used to create case studies for each congregation and a cross case analysis. The research shows being directly asked to serve is a major contributor to engaging in leadership. The direct appeal counteracts the largest barrier to leadership, according to this research, the uncertainty about being qualified. The research identifies servant leadership as the primary characteristic of an effective church leader. Following the example set by Jesus and empowering others to participate in ministry are key components in building a culture promoting engagement in the mission of the church. The research also points to an organizational structure which differentiates between management and leadership, and engages participants in collaborative leadership. The researcher presents a comprehensive plan for transforming the leadership structures of Marshfield Christian Church and creating an organizational culture which supports current leaders and nurtures future leaders.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry

Document Type

Doctoral thesis