Factors Influencing Clergy Leadership Effectiveness

Open Access
Ford, Renee
Graduate Program:
Workforce Education and Development
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
February 26, 2015
Committee Members:
  • David Lynn Passmore, Dissertation Advisor
  • David Lynn Passmore, Committee Chair
  • Rose Marie Baker, Committee Member
  • Mark D Threeton, Committee Member
  • Roger Kent Finke, Special Member
  • Clergy
  • United Methodist Church
  • regression analysis
  • leadership effectiveness
  • systems theory
  • church
  • Susquehanna Conference
This study explored relationships between factors that influence clergy leadership and measures of church vitality and leadership effectiveness in the United Methodist Church (UMC). Decline in membership and attendance in the UMC and other Mainline Protestant denominations is causing serious concern. Efforts are being made to identify the reasons for this situation and solutions that will reverse this trend. The UMC has hypothesized that clergy leadership is playing a role in attendance and membership decline. This research examined situational and systemic factors that influence clergy leadership and looked for correlations between these factors and measures of church vitality and clergy leadership effectiveness as reported by the churches served by 109 respondents who were ordained, seminary-trained elders in the Susquehanna Conference of the UMC, which is located in central and northeastern Pennsylvania. This research was conducted via questionnaire and the data were statistically analyzed using descriptive statistics, bivariate correlation, and regression. Moderate to strong relationships were found between respondents earning salaries of $55,000 or more annually and number of small groups, average worship attendance, and growth (in number of professions of faith) in the churches served by these clergy. Additionally, a correlation between growth and clergy who perceive that relationships influence their leadership effectiveness was also identified in the data analysis. Recommendations are offered regarding future research on factors that influence clergy leadership effectiveness, including research of correlations among patterns of worship, attendance, small groups, and outreach of individual churches and the clergy who have served those churches and study of trends in measures of clergy leadership effectiveness of clergy who have served thirty or more years.