Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Education in Christian Leadership (EdD)


Jason R. Waters


Attribution, Baptist, Church Leader, Hermeneutic Circle, In-person, Online


Leadership Studies | Practical Theology


This phenomenological study explores the reasons for a lack of participation in in-person Baptist churches and the rise of participation in online Baptist churches in Seminole County, Florida. The theory guiding this study was Martin Heidegger’s hermeneutical framework which focuses on the commonality of experiences. Heidegger believed that to arrive at the essence of a phenomenon a researcher must go through the revisionary process of what Heidegger termed the Hermeneutic Circle. The principal research question in this study explored existing relationship(s) between in-person and online Baptist church leaders and how such relationship(s) contributed to a lack of church participation. The remaining questions explored what understanding of a lack of church participation existed amongst Baptist church leaders, how online Baptist church participation affected in-person Baptist church participation, and what relationship existed between in-person Baptist church members and online Baptist church members. Study data were derived from a qualitative research design which included interviews, a reflective journal, an audio recorder, and observations. Data were analyzed through the use of the NVivo 12 Pro qualitative data analysis computer software program.