ATS Dissertations



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Pastoral ministry is rife with leadership pressures and challenges. Pastors face what seems to be a monumental leadership challenge of trying to lead struggling congregations that are focused inwardly to become missional in focus. Engaging in spiritual formation practices and small group opportunities can help pastors become spiritually vibrant and effective leaders.

Christians throughout the centuries have met in small groups to build community and strengthen one another as disciples of Jesus Christ. Pastors benefit from meeting in small groups where their love for God can be cultivated and their ability to serve as missional leaders can be developed. In the small group context, pastors can find support and accountability as they commit to live by a rule of life and grow as missional leaders. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of changes in spiritual formation and perception of the value of missional leadership through a professional development program for pastors.

Nine participants engaged in a ten-session small group professional development program that met weekly across a twelve-week period for two to three hours to focus on spiritual formation and missional leadership. In addition to the weekly sessions, participants developed and sought to live by a personal rule of life. Subjects were

interviewed before and after the study on a series of questions based on the following seven personal characteristics of missional leaders: ministry flowing out of a vibrant spiritual life; modeling Christ-like character; mentoring people in the practices and habits of the Christian life; having a high view of what God can do in unlikely places; understanding culture; engaging culture; and prioritizing the kingdom of God over the church as an organization. Small group spiritual formation can be a powerful catalyst for pastors seeking growth in their relationship with God and in their ability to serve effectively as missional leaders.



Publication Date



Christian, leadership, missional, church, mission, clergy, training


Biblical Studies | Missions and World Christianity | Other Religion | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Call Number

BV652.1 .C66 2013

Cultivating missional leadership characteristics through a small group spiritual formation program for pastors