School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Janet S. Deck


education, leadership, pastor, pastor-church fit, person-organization fit, seminary, structure, turnover, value, vision


Educational Leadership | Leadership Studies


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to explore and describe pastors’ experiences who have served full-time in a lead/senior pastor role in evangelical churches after having lost or left their employment as a result of experiencing poor person-organization fit. For this study, pastoral staff turnover was defined as the employment of full-time pastoral staff employed for at least one year who have resulted in voluntary or involuntary resignation from their place of employment because of value incongruence. In this phenomenology, the church is viewed as an educational institution, including similarities between pastoral roles and educator and administrator roles. As the literature review demonstrates, many seminaries, ministry, and theological institutions do not include educational or organizational components in curriculum. Social cognitive theory and person-organization fit theory are established as the theoretical framework and used to moderate pastors’ experiences, self-reflection, and self-efficacy, as they seek to educate congregants while simultaneously administrating the church’s educational and mission programs. Person-organization fit theory provides a framework by which research questions are formed. The study was a hermeneutical phenomenological study of 10 lead/senior pastors who have experienced the phenomenon through semi-structured one-on-one interviews, questionnaires, and a focus group. The data were analyzed for thematic saturation and reported with seven major themes that are discussed with implications and recommendations for future study.