Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


William Higley


Leadership Development, African American, Baptist Church


Christianity | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research


If the Church successfully fulfills its mission, it must have skilled and effective lay leadership. This research intends to examine the Christian organization's enhancement through discipleship and leadership development. Leadership development and discipleship are vital to every church organization. However, research shows that many historically African American denominations are challenged perhaps more than others to find and educate new religious leaders for their congregations (Johnson, 2017, kindle, loc. 179). What most African American pastors have discovered is that aging leadership is prominent in all denominations. The reality is that many African American churches are on life support; they are clinically dead and in need of resuscitation (Johnson, 2017, kindle, loc. 179). In this unprecedented time of opportunity and plentiful resources, the Church is losing influence (Malphurs & Mancini, 2004, p. 7). However, the primary reason is the lack of intentional leadership development. Without influential leadership, people seem destined for a life in which Jesus Christ is little more than an expression uttered in times of frustration or an ancient and personally irrelevant teacher of admirable principles and antiquated religious practices (Malphurs & Mancini, 2004). The purpose of this phenomenological study is to explore how a Christian organization could be enhanced through the leadership development process of emerging and lay leaders, specifically within the African American Baptist Church. Leaders play a vital role in the local Church as they lead believers and nonbelievers to action, helping to "move people on God's agenda" (Blackaby & Blackaby, 2011, p. 36) while remaining driven to maintain their relationship with Christ and his work.