Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Rick Garner


Church Growth, Church of God, Church Leadership, Pentecostal, Western North Carolina, Grounded Theory


Christianity | Leadership Studies | Religion


The purpose of this project is to identify and describe the essential leadership factors required to stimulate and sustain church growth for Church of God churches operating in Western North Carolina. This will be accomplished using a grounded theory research approach. Sample (N = 30) analysis of statistics provided by the Western North Carolina State Offices of the Church of God showed 3% of the churches in this region to have recorded significant overall growth in attendance and membership (=>10% per year) from April 1, 2014 to April 30, 2016. Few of the sampled churches recorded benchmark conversion growth for the same time interval (=>10% per year). The aim of this project is to develop a substantive theory from grounded data, identifying and describing the common leadership traits, aptitudes, and strategies utilized by successful regional pastors to promote church growth. A constructivist grounded theory qualitative approach will be utilized to collect and analyze data. Data will be collected through recorded personal interviews of senior pastors practicing ministry within the Western North Carolina region of the United States. ATLAS.ti data analysis software will be used to code, analyze, and categorize data until similarities, differences, incidents, and causal relationships are identified between emerging categories. Data collection will continue until theoretical saturation has been achieved. The results of this thesis project will provide Church of God pastors experiencing growth stagnation with insight into how their successful colleagues and contemporaries are presently stimulating and maintaining church growth in the Western region of North Carolina.