Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


Joseph E. Butler


Seminary, Lay Equipping Competencies, Lay Equipping Process, Priesthood, Partnership, Commitment, Leader-Member Exchange, LMX-7, Organizational Commitment Questionnaire, OCQ-9, Equip, Disciple


Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


The purpose of this Multiphase iterative mixed-method study is to determine if the lay equipping competency courses of a School of Divinity's MDiv program influences the church discipleship programs of graduate lead pastors to develop partnership with their parishioners in ministry and commitment for their church's mission. Burggraff (2015) attests that most evangelical churches in North America are in decline (p. 22). He and many other scholars believe that this general membership decline is due to a lack of emphasis on discipleship, by clergy (Burggraff, 2015). At this stage in the research, lay equipping competencies (LEC) will be generally defined as skills obtained by pastors that can help their parishioners grow in Christ, learn, and develop their spiritual gifts, and provide cooperative opportunities to use their gifts in the gospel ministry. The theory guiding this study is that pastors with more robust LECs are more effective at equipping their members for the gospel ministry (Hwang 2008, p. 177). Further, this study deems that the commitment levels of church parishioners and their partnership with their pastors are directly related to the implementation of LECs by their pastors.