Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


James (Andy) Wood


Church growth, Church attendance, minister, pastor, preaching, morale, connection


Leadership Studies


The numerical decline of church attendance in America has been a grave concern for decades, but it was only enhanced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Churches of Christ (COC), a nondenominational religious group born from the Restoration Movement, are not immune to this crisis, having experienced substantial decay within their own fellowship. However, a specific question has not been considered critically. Do COC grow numerically based on the preaching and pastoring of the lead minister? Can dynamic preaching and passionate pastoring repeal the trend of numerical decline? The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study was to explore if a potential connection exists between church growth trends and the preaching and pastoring of lead ministers within five established Churches of Christ (COC) in Texas. To explore the potential connection, phenomenological interviews were conducted in five COC in Texas with a research population of four to six families composed of “devoted” members (attending worship services at least twice a month) and “new” members (placing membership within the last year) at each COC in the study. The research setting was COC in Texas with at least 250 people in weekly attendance who have been in existence for at least twenty years. Research interviews were conducted through Zoom, transcribed through Fathom software, to define common themes and evaluate the preaching and pastoring of lead ministers in COC in Texas.