Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Gary Bredfeldt


pastoral transition, emotional intelligence, biblical EQ, transformation, stress, anxiety, ministry succession, spiritual maturity, leadership change


Educational Leadership


The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore the central phenomenon of how the spiritual and emotional dynamics of outgoing and incoming pastoral leadership impacted the pastoral transition and to discover common patterns in successful transitions. The central question addressed in this phenomenological research was, “How do pastoral teams consisting of the outgoing pastor and spouse and the incoming pastor and spouse process the spiritual and emotional dynamics of a pastoral transition?” The church is described as a family (Eph 3:15) with spiritual and emotional needs. The pastor should possess personal competence and social competence to lead the church family. This study’s first objective was to discover commonly expressed themes by exploring the spiritual and emotional dynamics experienced by the pastoral team. The second objective was to take the data gathered and better understand if the pastoral teams had consistent patterns to describe best practices of successful pastoral transitions. The sample best reflected the purpose of the research and provided substantive data to describe the central phenomena of the spiritual and emotional dynamics of pastoral transitions. Interviews sought to discover and describe the lived experience of pastoral transition. Critical to the study were the participants with personal experiences relating to the phenomenon researched. A 5-year mark was a minimum measurement used in sampling to ensure the participants had undergone substantial spiritual and emotional highs and lows. A convenience sampling of the data provided a detailed description of the spiritual and emotional experience pastoral teams and what, if any, best practices emerged from the research.