The Problem of Decreased Quality of Church Leadership

Subject: Leadership Styles
Pages: 15
Words: 3738
Reading time:
15 min
Study level: PhD

The results of the study conducted in the present work and the project of addressing the problem of decreased quality of church leadership in multicultural environment in the specific community, allow making conclusion that leadership is a unique phenomenon in public life that permeates all spheres of society’s life, and remains one of the most pressing problems of modern management not only in business, but also in social and religious spheres.

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In addition, we live in a society that increasingly relies on target groups and teams, those small groups of people working together to make decisions. In the family and at work, we rely on decisions and actions that are the result of group processes that occur in almost all areas of life. However, when we begin to communicate in a small group with other people, performing creative tasks or solving problems, the communication process becomes more complicated.

Our communication in groups can increase or decrease our ability to develop and maintain relationships with people when we make decisions that are consistent with personal and group goals. In a small church community, this is especially tangible and important, since unsatisfactory intergroup interaction leads to a decrease in parishioner involvement and missionary success, as well as a lack of effective relationship management with stakeholders (representatives of the local community).

In this context, it should be noted that in an effective multicultural group, the number of members should be sufficient to ensure constructive interaction and not so large as to create obstacles to discussion. In general, as a group grows in size, so does the difficulty it has to deal with.1 At the same time, an indicator that is more important than a certain number of members in a group is the correct combination of people in the group.

It is necessary to find the structure of group communication that will contribute to the development of cohesion in groups of any type. In homogeneous groups, all participants, as a rule, have the same knowledge, approach the problem from the same point of view, and, therefore, may well view some important information or be inclined to use simplified methods for solving problems. Members of heterogeneous groups, on the contrary, usually have different information, have different views and values, attitudes and interests, level of training, and, therefore, discuss issues in more detail before reaching any decision.

Effective groups usually consist of people with different knowledge and experience.2 Using the skills of active listening, empathy and joint conflict resolution, it is possible to help a heterogeneous group to develop their cohesion. Group members should be taught to communicate in such a way as to develop mutual support and cooperation; they should take time to analyze the relationship between its members, discuss and resolve personal contradictions between them. A group becomes more united when all its members feel that they are valued and respected.

It should be kept in mind that the informal structure of the group is also a hierarchical system, but not rigid. This system is formed on the basis of interpersonal relationships and consists of the following status positions of group members:3

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  • “Leader” ‑ enjoys authority among others and has influence on them, determines the algorithm for solving the problems facing the group;
  • “Accepted” ‑ have an average positive status and, as a rule, support the leader in his efforts to solve the group problem;
  • “Isolated” ‑ have zero status, are considered to have withdrawn from participation in group interaction, where the reasons may be personal characteristics (shyness, introversion, a sense of inferiority and self-doubt, etc.);
  • “Rejected” ‑ those members of the group who have a negative status, knowingly or unconsciously removed from participation in solving group problems.

Currently, for the church community that participated in the project, based on the diagnosis of the results of the project, it can be argued that most of the members of the groups have the status of accepted, many with high leadership potential. In the continuum from the formation of a group to its social maturity, any point can indicate the place of a particular group in the process of its movement from the “non-collective” to the collective. This implies the task of finding those points that characterize not so much quantitative but rather qualitative changes in the life of the group that occur in the process of forming its structure, based on organizational diversity.

The nodal stage in the development of the group is the stage of autonomization, characterized by high internal unity in all substructures and common qualities, with the exception of intergroup activity. At this stage, group members often identify themselves with it, and membership in the group itself becomes a personal value. However, this process can lead to hyper-autonomization, and, as a result, to isolation of the group from other groups of the given social community, closeness of common goals “on oneself,” that is, the transformation of the group into a corporation (“false collective”).4

If intragroup integration does not lead to intergroup disunity, the group becomes a full-fledged cell of a broader community as a whole. Such a group reaches the highest level of socio-psychological maturity and can be called a collective, which is the goal of the project to achieve the effectiveness of managing organizational diversity in the church community and increase the involvement of parishioners.

Prior to change project realization, according to diagnostic survey, only 51.2% of respondents called themselves religious, while 42.5% do not consider themselves religious. At the same time, 66.5% attend church services more than once per week, and 16.8% visit church once per week.

As a result of applying a systematic approach to the consideration of the functioning of the church community, as well as the concept of organizational diversity, it was decided that it was necessary to introduce changes to form a new model of church leadership for intercultural environment, based on combining the features of a transformative or innovative leadership style – the so called leader-harmonizer, and taking into account the cultural parameters of the church members and local community.

Appropriate model of harmonizing leadership was suggested, considered from the perspective of increasing the effectiveness of organizational and cross-cultural interaction, consisting of three components: a leader characterized by certain leadership abilities, followers, and a situation of interaction of the leader and team members. The intersection of components gives the optimal combination of these groups of factors necessary for the leader-harmonizer in the multicultural environment.

Accordingly, classification of change management approaches was carried out on the basis of the temporality of changes: changes as a project” and “changes as a permanent component”,5 as well as Theory O and Theory E.6 ADKAR change model was used to plan and implement the changes, the core idea of which is that in order to effectively manage changes in a group, at first, it is necessary to learn to contribute to the changes of each individual member.

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What really gives this model an advantage is the emphasis on individual changes. While many change management projects focus on the steps necessary for organizational change, ADKAR focuses on the fact that successful organizational change will only happen when everyone is capable of change.

First of all, this model stands out by focusing on individual changes, which ensures everyone’s participation in general changes. This is more than a “soft” approach ‑ it is a practical application. More importantly, when a leader focuses on individual changes, he is able to assess whether followers are involved in the changes and what they need to do so. He doesn’t just rely on several trainings or a church-wide newsletter about future changes. The model allows the following:7

  • Identify the reasons for the failure of the changes;
  • Identify steps to improve the effectiveness of change;
  • Diagnose staff resistance;
  • Develop a plan for the development of individual parishioners.

It is interesting to note that, according to Jeff Hiatt, the author of the model, this model is universal for any changes in the behavior of people, and not just employees of the organization. One can use it for own change or helping relatives and friends.8 Thus, for the project of changes in the church community, this model seems to be the most preferable.

As a result of the introduction of the change program, the results were obtained that exceeded the expected ones: religiosity and church attendance among respondents showed significant growth. Presumably, these results are due to the competent use of change model and change agents who showed high efficiency.

However, it should be noted also that some initial conditions were favorable for changes. In particular, when answering question “Do you believe that church unity, love, and training are important to growing a ministry?,” absolute majority of respondents responded positively. Moreover, the vast majority of respondents indicated that they want to be disciples for Christ; 72.7% noted their desire to train church members to win souls for Christ.

Non-formal education is offered in frames of our project, within the boundaries of the church community and missionary activity, with the aim to form educational environment contributing to higher level of engagement, which includes components (spatial-subject, information-technological, social-communicative) and resources (material, axiological, informational, technological, organizational), providing enhancing of social interaction.

In frames of ADKAR change model, training based on Kolb cycle was implemented, and, considering two criteria ‑ self-determination and involvement in the activity ‑ we distinguished four states of social activity, from inactivity to full involvement. This approach, in case of control over potential organizational resistance to changes, with the application of Kolb model training, appeared to be one of the best practices in church leadership today in the multicultural environment.

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Individual approach to each church member, taking into account his/her culture-specific personality traits and approaches/attitude to learning, in frames of Kolb cycle, provides effective results in raising multicultural awareness and using the benefits of organizational diversity.

Common to all definitions of involvement is the notion that organization member engagement is a desirable condition, has an organizational goal and is associated with dedication, commitment, passion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy, and also has both attitude and behavioral components. The engagement of members in the organization’s activities, associated with it, is determined primarily by interest and enthusiasm, and then by other drivers.

Two groups of factors influence the interest and inspiration of employees: organization of work and attitude of a leader.9 In a horizontal organization, involvement is higher than in a vertically (linearly) oriented one, which is determined by the process organization of labor, which assumes the presence of team work, fixed work results, and constant feedback on a horizontal level. In horizontal organization, partisipative management style and adhocratic organizational culture contribute to employee engagement. It should be noted that working with engagement is not limited to passing the survey and collecting feedback from members.

In order to maintain a high result, it is important to respond to challenges in a timely manner and create an environment in which each member will be more effective, contributing to creating a synergy in the organization. Activity involvement is defined as the degree to which an individual views (perceives) his activity as part of his self-concept or, in other words, as the degree of identification of an individual with the duties performed.10

Those individuals who show high involvement in missionary or volunteering activity, perceive their work as an important part of their own lives, and the quality of their work is crucially important for their self-esteem.

The involvement and retention of followers from among parishioners today means understanding and providing them with opportunities to realize their desire for flexibility, creativity in spiritual growth within the framework of the teachings of Christ, and purpose. Within the framework of the developing “social contract” between the parishioner and the church leader, people become volunteers involved “again” every day.

As Yvon Pesqueux rightly notes, engagement is in many ways a “temperature gauge” of an organization’s ability to actively solve all problems on behalf of employees.11 Engagement helps use with the maximum benefit the cultural diversity of parishioners, engage them and encourage collaboration. The church strives to create a comfortable working environment in which an open exchange of ideas is welcomed and there are no cultural barriers.

It should be noted that “Management with a high degree of involvement” is one of the areas of organizational psychology in the United States, involving the expansion of areas of participation in the management for all subjects of organizational activity.12 In terms of the psychological strategy of organizing management activities, management with a high degree of involvement is opposed to the direction traditionally focused on the wide and multi-aspect control of lower-level members of the organization by higher-level ones.

The intention of this strategy consists in the development of means and methods of encouraging the aspirations of people leading to the success of their organization.13 A tactical condition is the provision on the need for active participation of members of the organization in the whole diversity of organizational life, their inclusion in the decision-making process with the aim of influencing activities “on each separate working territory.”14

These “territories ”can be separate areas of missionary and volunteer activity, as well as participation in the life of the local community. Diversity and involvement, which are part of the modern church culture, are key factors in creativity, innovation, and attractiveness for missionary audience.

Obviously, only with the real involvement and use of the potential of cultural diversity is it possible for each parishioner to grow in the spirit of the teachings of Christ. The activity “under the lash” negatively affects both the spiritual development of church members and the practical results of the activity of the church community.

On the opposite, engagement and cross-cultural competence will lead to observing Paul’s words: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve, not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Also, real engagement provides sincere and conscious obedience to church leaders, implementing in the church community the ‘ideal Evangelic model’: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you” (Hebrews 13:17).

The level of commitment of the organization members and the attitudes and work values behind this largely determine the degree of susceptibility to both external and internal incentives. Committed parishioners are more likely to show creativity and initiative, which is often crucial to maintain the “competitiveness” of the church organization and its attractiveness to the local community. The commitment of the organization is made up of the following components:

  1. the adoption of organizational values and goals;
  2. willingness to make efforts for the sake of the organization;
  3. a strong desire to remain a member of the organization’s team.15

Commitment is the integral factor that reflects the values, ethics of the parishioners (including cross-cultural ethics), their motivation and satisfaction. The commitment is based on relevant attitudes that determine attitude to brothers and sisters in Christ in their church community, to stakeholders, to leadership, to the organization as a whole.

In addition, it should be noted that some authors consider the concept of “member’s involvement in the organization” as a higher-order latent construct or aggregate multi-dimensional construct.16 When several well-known constructs are moderately or strongly correlated and their underlying definitions share a common content, it may be useful to determine and empirically verify the presence of a hidden common factor that may underlie this collection of constructs.17

On this basis, we propose the closely interconnected concepts of “identification with the organization,” “commitment to organization,” and “dedication to work” to be combined into a more general concept of “member’s involvement in the organization” (similar to the socio-psychological concept of “individual involvement in the group”). It can be assumed that “involvement in the organization” is a multidimensional research construct that incorporates a traditional understanding of social identity and social attitude. In other words, this is a kind of conceptual hybrid, the heuristic potential of which, in our opinion, is quite high. The possible structure of the construct “inclusion of a parishioner in a church organization” may look as follows:

  • Cognitive component: identification with the organization – member’ awareness of himself/herself as a member of the organization and self-determination in terms of organization.
  • Affective component: the commitment to the organization ‑ the desire of the parishioner to remain a member of the organization, the adoption of its goals and values.
  • Behavioral component: dedication to work ‑ the active development of own practical and spiritual role.

The state of involvement is one of the aspects of member’ motivation, i.e., a factor affecting both the configuration of the management system in the organization, and the subject of influence from other factors. The foundation for the formation of a management system or the implementation of leadership is two bases: the technology of organizing objectively existing processes in the church community and the subjectively determined influence of the leader and founders of the community on the culture in the organization and the motivation of its members.1819

Consequently, the whole set of tools to influence engagement, as the state of employees, can be divided into two groups: methods of structural formalized management on the one hand, and methods of psychological informal influence of leaders on followers, on the other.

Speaking about the psychological mechanisms and foundations of management with a high degree of involvement, then, as its authors (Edward E. Lawler, Susanna A. Norman) note, achieving the goals of such management is possible if members of the organization at all its levels are offered a composition of four significant factors ‑ information, knowledge, power, and rewards ‑ in order to equip them with means of self-regulation of their activities.20

In addition to rank-and-file members, the subjects should be both managers at various levels and specialists in “human resources,” united in the appropriate departments in the form of organizational units.21 Managers must teach members how to manage these factors in a variety of organizational activities, ‘human resources specialists’ perform the functions of psychological support, provide information equipment and coordinate management decisions based on a high degree of involvement throughout the organization.

This approach is almost entirely based on management in order to activate numerous psychological mechanisms of self-regulation, self-government, and self-organization of members of the organization. This is expressed in the content of working formulas and principles of a high degree of involvement:22

  1. To be effective, management with a high degree of involvement requires a conscious understanding by members of the organization of the mechanisms of functioning of the entire organization and a separate ‘work unit.’ They must have access to financial and other information.
  2. Members of the organization can be allowed to influence a number of managerial decisions that affect their daily lives. However, before power is shared and critical powers are delegated, knowledge and information must be shared, as power without knowledge is dangerous.
  3. The risk associated with high involvement management is significantly reduced when there is support for this style throughout the organization and when the organization changes its systems to support this approach.

The contents of the diagnostics and the project described in the previous chapters are directed namely on the realization of these goals that. It should also be noted that the next stage in the implementation of such a project, in its dynamic development, may be corporate citizenship within the church community. To understand the mechanism of its formation, it is possible to consider the concept of corporate citizenship in its original interpretation.

The fundamental principle of corporate citizenship is multilateral, multi-active interaction of corporations with their stakeholders. In relations with the state, corporations most often act as a political actor, with consumers of products ‑ as an effective producer, with the local community ‑ as an active participant in social relations, with shareholders ‑ as a manager, with their own personnel (members) ‑ as an employer, with environmental funds and environmental organizations ‑ as a subject influencing the state of the environment, etc.23 The maturity level of these relationships determines the degree to which the corporation is included in civil society.

The concept of “corporate citizenship” is based on the term “citizenship,” taken from political science. The concept of citizen is associated with individual responsibilities and rights within the political community. However, it also contains a more general idea: to be part of the community. In this tradition, the key concept is “participation,” and not individual rights, as it is the case in a modern liberal state.24

The concept of “organizational citizenship behavior” was introduced by Dennis Organ, who defined it as “individual employee behavior that is discretionary, not directly or explicitly formalized by the remuneration system, and which generally contributes to the effective functioning of the organization”.25

Thus, the concept of organizational-civil behavior considers the actions of the member that are not part of the requirements for his activity, but at the same time contribute to a more efficient functioning of the organization. Examples include helping other members of the team, voluntarily completing additional work responsibilities, preventing unnecessary conflicts, and constructive suggestions to improve the work of specific work group and the organization as a whole.

In general, the study made it possible to justify the need for the introduction of new management approaches that take into account the cross-cultural factor. The results of a theoretical study and their practical understanding on the example presented can serve as the basis for the development of a new model of leadership on the diocese scale, which fits into the modern paradigm of multicultural group behavior management, based on the influence of cross-cultural differences.

According to the proposed model, types of leadership in a multicultural environment depend on two fundamentally important factors. This is an account of cross-cultural differences and the nature of the relationship between the project leader and his followers ‑ members of the group. The first factor ‑ the cultural component ‑ has a great influence on the processes of leadership, team interaction, and other basic phenomena of the multicultural groups behavior. In addition, various cross-cultural interaction strategies are possible.


Abudi, Gina. Implementing Positive Organizational Change: A Strategic Project Management Approach. J. Ross Publishing, 2017.

Abutalib, Maha. The Potential Correlation between Employee Engagement and Commitment. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2018.

Beach, Lee Roy. Leadership and the Art of Change: A Practical Guide to Organizational Transformation. SAGE Publications, 2005.

Bowles, David, and Cary Cooper. The High Engagement Work Culture: Balancing Me and We. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.

Erbe, Nancy D. Approaches to Managing Organizational Diversity and Innovation. IGI Global.

Farheen, Javed, and Sadia Cheema. Employee Engagement and its impact on Organizational Performance: Employee communication. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2017.

Halverson, Claire B. and Aqeel Tirmizi. Effective Multicultural Teams: Theory and Practice. New York: Springer, 2008.

Hiatt, Jeffery, and Timothy Creasey. Change Management: The People Side of Change. Prosci Learning Center Publications, 2013.

Kilduff, Martin, and David Krackhardt. Interpersonal Networks in Organizations: Cognition, Personality, Dynamics, and Culture. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Leibner, Josh. The Power of Strategic Commitment: Achieving Extraordinary Results Through Total Alignment and Engagement. New York: Amacom, 2009.

Moodian, Michael A. Contemporary Leadership and Intercultural Competence: Exploring the Cross-Cultural Dynamics Within Organizations. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, 2008.

Newman, Daniel A., and David A. Harrison. “Been there, bottled that: Are state and behavioral work engagement new and useful construct “wines”?” Industrial and Organizational Psychology 1, no. 1 (2008): 31-35.

Organ, Dennis W. Organizational Citizenship Behavior: The Good Soldier Syndrome. Lexington: Lexington Books, 1988.

Osborne, Schrita, and Mohamad S. Hammoud. “Effective Employee Engagement in the Workplace.” International Journal of Applied Management and Technology 16, issue 1 (2017): 50-67.

Palmer Ian, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan. Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach. McGraw-Hill Education, 2016.

Pesqueux, Yvon. “Social Contract and Psychological Contract: A comparison.” Society and Business Review 7, no. 1 (2012):14-33.

Rockson, Tayo. Use Your Difference to Make a Difference: How to Connect and Communicate in a Cross-Cultural World. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2019.

Shoukri, Andrew. Anchor System Thinking: The Art of Situational Analysis, Problem Solving, and Strategic Planning for Yourself, Your Organization, and Society. Amazon Digital Services, 2018.

Stangis, Dave, and Katherine Smith. 21st Century Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business. Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 2017.


  1. Tayo Rockson, Use Your Difference to Make a Difference: How to Connect and Communicate in a Cross-Cultural World (Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2019).
  2. Claire B. Halverson, and Aqeel Tirmizi, Effective Multicultural Teams: Theory and Practice (New York: Springer, 2008).
  3. Martin Kilduff, and David Krackhardt, Interpersonal Networks in Organizations: Cognition, Personality, Dynamics, and Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2008).
  4. Ibid.
  5. Gina Abudi, Implementing Positive Organizational Change: A Strategic Project Management Approach (J. Ross Publishing, 2017).
  6. Lee Roy Beach, Leadership and the Art of Change: A Practical Guide to Organizational Transformation (SAGE Publications, 2005).
  7. Jeffery Hiatt, and Timothy Creasey, Change Management: The People Side of Change (Prosci Learning Center Publications, 2013).
  8. Ibid.
  9. Javed Farheen, and Sadia Cheema, Employee Engagement and its impact on Organizational Performance: Employee communication (LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2017).
  10. David Bowles, and Cary Cooper, The High Engagement Work Culture: Balancing Me and We (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  11. Yvon Pesqueux, “Social Contract and Psychological Contract: A comparison.” Society and Business Review 7, no. 1 (2012): 14-33.
  12. David Bowles, and Cary Cooper, The High Engagement Work Culture.
  13. Schrita Osborne, and Mohamad S. Hammoud, “Effective Employee Engagement in the Workplace.” International Journal of Applied Management and Technology 16, issue 1 (2017): 50-67.
  14. Nancy D. Erbe, Approaches to Managing Organizational Diversity and Innovation (IGI Global).
  15. Josh Leibner, The Power of Strategic Commitment: Achieving Extraordinary Results Through Total Alignment and Engagement (New York: Amacom, 2009).
  16. Maha Abutalib, The Potential Correlation between Employee Engagement and Commitment (LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 2018).
  17. Daniel A. Newman, and David A. Harrison, “Been there, bottled that: Are state and behavioral work engagement new and useful construct “wines”?” Industrial and Organizational Psychology 1, no. 1 (2008): 31-35.
  18. Andrew Shoukri, Anchor System Thinking: The Art of Situational Analysis, Problem Solving, and Strategic Planning for Yourself, Your Organization, and Society (Amazon Digital Services, 2018).
  19. Moodian, Michael A. Contemporary Leadership and Intercultural Competence: Exploring the Cross-Cultural Dynamics Within Organizations (Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Publications, 2008).
  20. Ibid.
  21. Martin Kilduff, and David Krackhardt, Interpersonal Networks in Organizations.
  22. .
  23. Ian Palmer, Richard Dunford, and David Buchanan, Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach (McGraw-Hill Education, 2016).
  24. Dave Stangis, and Katherine Smith, 21st Century Corporate Citizenship: A Practical Guide to Delivering Value to Society and Your Business (Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing, 2017).
  25. Dennis W. Organ, Philip M. Podsakoff, and Scott B. MacKenzie, Organizational Citizenship Behavior: Its Nature, Antecedents, and Consequences (SAGE Publications, 2005): 4.