Local church governance: Understanding the Issues in designing the optimal structure
LE3 .A278 2014
Doctor of Ministry
Acadia Divinity College
The author of this thesis has been interested for years in the nature of the respective roles of and working relationship between pastors and their boards and congregations. His own experience in a church whose organizational structure had outlived its usefulness fueled the drive to study the relationship between factors which can change, such as congregational size and pastor’s leadership style, and the effectiveness of its organizational structure. When does the interplay between these factors indicate the need to modify or replace the organizational structure and how do leaders know when and how to change? The purpose of this thesis is to help church leaders understand the nature of local church governance, be able to identify some indicators of necessary change, and provide some principles to follow during the process. Chapter One builds the Biblical foundation for understanding leadership and governance in the local church; Chapter Two provides the historical context for the development of governance in the local church from the apostolic period through to modern day, following a thread most relevant to the Baptist context. Chapter Three introduces and summarizes the essential nature of local church governance as expressed in three contemporary models. Chapter Four introduces the method and goal of the original research undertaken in this thesis, which was to describe the narratives of five Baptist churches who, for different reasons and under very different circumstances made changes to their organizational structures. Chapter Five analyzed their stories for lessons and principles from which others might benefit, while Chapter Six presents guiding principles and recommendations.
The author grants permission to the University Librarian at Acadia University to reproduce, loan or distribute copies of my thesis in microform, paper or electronic formats on a non-profit basis. The author retains the copyright of the thesis.