The development of cross-cultural leadership in multi-ethnic churches

Doctorate other than PhD

Peckman, Gregory Ian. 2017. The development of cross-cultural leadership in multi-ethnic churches. Doctorate other than PhD Doctor of Education. University of Southern Queensland.

The development of cross-cultural leadership in multi-ethnic churches

TypeDoctorate other than PhD
AuthorPeckman, Gregory Ian
SupervisorAndrews, Dorothy
Conway, Joan
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
Qualification NameDoctor of Education
Number of Pages345
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

The growing ethnic diversity of churches provides rich, and often untapped, resources for the mission of the church. Leading an ethnically-diverse congregation is a new and daunting experience for many Australian Christian leaders. This study sought new knowledge about developing cross-cultural leadership within churches that harnesses their cultural diversity to enhance overall capacity. The research issue addressed was: 'How does leadership develop in multi-ethnic churches?' Specific questions included: (1) How are leadership and leadership development viewed in multi-ethnic churches? (2) How do the leadership practices of senior pastors and others influence the development of leadership in multi-ethnic churches? (3) What theoretical understanding of leadership development emerges from the study and how does it extend existing knowledge of leadership development in multi-ethnic churches?

A theological-qualitative multiple case study strategy provided a research methodology to gain a deep understanding of the dynamics involved in leadership
development in multi-ethnic churches. Baptist denominational leaders identified three multi-ethnic churches for the case studies that they believed were effective in developing cross-cultural leadership. Two churches comprised multiple ethnic congregations in addition to culturally-diverse English services. The third church chose to have a single inclusive congregation to reflect God’s desire for unity in worship. The case study churches were from different Australian capital cities. They also varied in size, age, ethnic composition, and the ethnic background of the senior pastor. Thirty leaders were interviewed.

The findings across the three churches were very similar. The critical elements of the cross-cultural leadership strategies included a situated leadership development process based on participation in strategic leadership roles in the church. The strategies entailed a clear focus on Jesus Christ as Lord of the church who is considered the premier role model for leadership and leadership development. The strategies were led by a Christ-focused senior pastor with a community–mission emphasis, with the support of a strong cross-cultural leadership community. Each leadership community comprised several exemplary cross-cultural leadership role models and provided personal assistance for leaders. These elements were supported by a unified and supportive church-wide culture, with shared views of the significance of Jesus Christ, and the nature of the church and leadership.

The multi-ethnic churches varied in their commitment to developing leaders of other ethnic groups which linked to the values of the senior pastor and other leaders. Strategies were identified in the case study churches to address this limitation that could further develop the capacities of each church.

The study’s unique contribution is to highlight, first, the elements of a situated leadership development strategy located in a cross-cultural church setting that can
produce context-specific leadership capabilities. Second, the study identifies the supportive context required for this development strategy, namely, the shared values especially the centrality of Jesus Christ, and leadership community that includes cross-cultural leadership role models, and is led by a Christ-focused senior pastor.

Keywordschurch leadership; cross-cultural leadership; multi-ethnic churches; Australia
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020500405. Religion, society and culture
Byline AffiliationsSchool of Linguistics, Adult and Specialist Education
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