Rawlings School of Divinity
Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)
high-tech, high-touch, pastors, servant leadership, technology, church, digital ministry
Groce, Shirley, "A Phenomenological Study of the High-Tech, High-Touch Pastor: Maximizing Personal Ministry in a Digital Age" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4519.
This qualitative phenomenological study aimed to explore how high-tech, high-touch senior pastors who practice servant leadership establish and maintain personal contact with their church members and lead them using digital technology. This research was particularly relevant in an era of social distancing required by the COVID-19 pandemic. The theoretical framework for this study was Greenleaf's servant leadership theory. Ten experienced pastors were interviewed to determine how they balanced the impersonal nature of streaming worship services while maintaining personal contact with their congregations. These interviews were transcribed, and important themes were identified to determine best practices for using technology while maintaining high levels of personal contact and individual attention. The objective was to gain more insight into the senior pastor taxonomy of rapidly expanding churches and to understand how to use technology to communicate with their congregation in the digital era through high-tech, high-touch ministry. Social scientists assert that the best setting for human growth and development is one that encourages social connection with other developing individuals (Lowe & Lowe, 2018). The study's results may be helpful to pastors who want to use technology to minister to their flock and keep in touch with them personally. Pastors perceive that technology has allowed them to maintain relational connections with their congregation despite physical distance. They acknowledged technology limitations and the importance of in-person interactions and community development. Advantages include greater accessibility and efficiency. Disadvantages include the potential for shallow relationships. Pastors perceive in-person, face-to-face connections as crucial for spiritual connection and understanding.