Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Robert O. Brinkerhoff

Second Advisor

Dr. Charles Warfield

Third Advisor

Dr. Walter Douglas


The objective of the study was to determine whether pastors of high growth churches in the Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists were more effective leaders than those pastors who served in low growth churches. The answer to this query was recognized as having implications for the pre-service and in-service training of pastors and in the periodic evaluation of their performance. The Lake Union Conference is an administrative body that oversees the work of the Church in five local conference units, namely, Illinois, Indiana, Lake Region, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

In the literature on effective leadership, there is consistent support for the view that the effective leader makes a difference in the situation (Bass, 1981; Bennis & Nanus, 1985). A previous study on church growth in the Lake Union Conference (Oosterwal, 1976) however, showed that in the churches surveyed, the pastors were directly responsible for little of the membership growth occurring in their churches. This finding seemed to be conflicting and led to a recommendation for this study.

Fifty pastors and their fifty first elders were sampled in this study. The sample was equally divided to represent high growth and low growth churches. Growth was defined as the percentage membership increase (baptisms and profession of faith) over a two-year period. The leader behaviors of the pastors were recorded by the pastors and their first elders using a standardized instrument, the Leader Behavior Questionnaire. The overall response rate was 86 percent for the pastors and 74 percent for the elders.

Ten null hypotheses were tested in this study. The data were analyzed using one-way ANOVAs and Pearson r's. The results showed that there was no significant difference in the behaviors of pastors of high growth and low growth churches in the Lake Union Conference. A positive relationship was recorded between the visionary ability of the leader and his follower-centered leader style. Pastors from the Lake Region Conference scored significantly higher than pastors from all the other local conferences except Michigan. No significant differences were noted in the matched scores of the pastors and their first elders. Based on these findings, several recommendations were made for further study.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access