Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Adapting Nigerian church leadership style for the North American context
by Ogbonnaya, John A., D.Min., Biola University, 2017, 245; 10261390
Abstract (Summary)

The transition from a usually autocratic to generally participative style of leadership has been a process full of frustration, anxiety, and concerns for Nigerian immigrant pastors in The Apostolic Church (TAC) North America. These pastors have brought the values, concepts, practices, and behavior which they learned in Nigeria to lead the American church, but their inability to identify differences between the two cultures and make the necessary changes for easy adaptation has often led to conflict and power struggle between church authorities, pastors, and members in TAC North America. Thus, this study examined how Nigerian pastors in TAC North America are adapting the leadership style they learned in Nigeria to the North American context.

The study used the mixed method approach and data was gathered through self-reported questionnaires and semi-structured in-depth interviews. A purposeful sampling method was used in conjunction with snowball sampling. Ten churches with congregations of 100 and above were purposefully selected. The participants included the pastor, an elder, and a member. A total of three participants from each church representing an overall total of thirty participants contributed to the study. The self-report questionnaires provided information on the demographic characteristics of the respondents as well as their cultural dimension and perception of leadership style. Semi-structured in-depth interviews were also used to provide a more thorough understanding of the pastor’s life history, experiences, and leadership styles.

The results obtained showed that most of the participants scored low on power distance, but scored high on uncertainty avoidance, individualism, masculinity, and long-term orientation. On the perceived leadership behavior scale, a greater number of the elders and members perceived their pastor’s behavior as being high on Instrumental Leadership (IL), supportive leadership (SL), and participative leadership (PL). The pastors interviewed expressed some of their frustrations which includes their accents preventing them from reaching out to people who are not Africans, lack of funds to finance church projects, seemingly lack of respect for pastors as well as the congregation’s lack of commitment, and poor attendance to church services. Some doctrinal challenges include men and women sitting together in church, women not covering their hair and wearing pants/trousers to church, allowing unmarried couples to partake in holy communion and even be ordained as church officers, and tithes and offering were concerns for the pastors.

Despite all the hindrances and challenges, the pastors expressed their determination to fulfill their calling and in their efforts to adapt and accept the democratic and participatory style of leadership, as opposed to the generally hierarchical and autocratic approach used in TAC Nigeria. Nigerian pastors in TAC North America and the executives in Nigeria need to examine these challenges and formulate better policies for sending and supporting missionary pastors in TAC North America.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Naidu, Ashish J., McIntosh, Gary l.
School: Biola University
Department: Talbot School of Theolgy
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Clerical studies, Adult education, Religious education
Keywords: Adaptation, Church leadership style, Contextualization, Cross-cultural pastoral care and training, Cultural intelligence, Supporting missionary pastors
Publication Number: 10261390
ISBN: 978-1-369-66061-6
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