Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Barbara S. Liggett

Second Advisor

Dr. James Visser

Third Advisor

Dr. Mark Jennings


Leadership, LMX, transformational leadership, transactional leadership, churches, nonprofit organizations


Throughout leadership research, limited focus has been given to the highest levels within independently controlled Protestant churches. Specifically, what accounts for the quality of relationship that exists between the senior pastor (recognized as the CEO of the organization) and the governing board to which he or she is responsible? This study examines the leadership relationship issue through the lens of a complementary leadership approach using Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory with transformational leadership and transactional leadership theories. In addition, several other questions were asked to identify potential other independent variables that contribute to the quality of the relationship between the two parties.

Utilizing a dataset for churches belonging to the Independent Fundamental Churches of America (IFCA International) association, a population of 551 independently controlled Protestant churches was used. From this group, there were 52 paired responses of senior pastor and board chairpersons from the same independently controlled Protestant church. This resulted in the following response rates: senior pastors: 21.4%; board chairpersons: 13.2%; senior pastor and board chairperson pairs: 9.4%.

With the pairs, several statistical analyses were used to examine the 58 independent variables against 8 dependent variables for both the paired responses. Through this research, a total of 18 variables were found to have a statistically significant impact on the quality of relationship between the senior pastors and governing boards within the independently controlled Protestant churches. These include: transformational leadership theory, transactional leadership theory, career advancement for senior pastor, type of previous work experience of senior pastor, temperament of senior pastor, age of governing board members, turnover of governing board, conflict resolution of senior pastor, ability of senior pastor to forgive, trust, friendship between senior pastor and governing board, spiritual development of senior pastor, theological viewpoint of senior pastor, growth trend of church, work experience of governing board, political culture of church, gender of governing board members and function of governing board.

Through this study independently controlled Protestant churches may have a more fruitful understanding and dialogue of what qualities and competencies are most impactful to a healthy working relationship within these types of local church congregations.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access