Date of Award

Spring 3-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Emmanuel Reinbold

Second Advisor

Dr. Kelly Brown

Scholarship Domain(s)

Scholarship of Discovery, Scholarship of Faith Integration


The current study explored the leadership style and practices of 12 senior pastors in the Church of the Nazarene in the United States whose churches had experienced numerical growth under their leadership. The researcher theorized that uncovering the common leadership style and common leadership practices of these pastors would lead to suggesting growth strategies that may be taught to clergy and applied to churches in the USA region of the Church of the Nazarene. This qualitative collective case study revealed collaboration as the common leadership style among pastors of growing churches. This study also identified 11 common leadership practices among pastors of growing churches, among them are visionary leadership, culture development, lead and lag indicators, and relationships. Lastly, this research found adaptive leadership as the leadership strategy necessary to address the fractured nature of the church community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Findings

This study found collaborative leadership as the commonality among all 12 senior pastors. Additionally eleven common practices were uncovered: visionary leadership, culture development, systems, metrics, reflection and prayer, an annual evangelism plan, innovation, a specific understanding of transfers, leadership development, relationships, and a disdain for decline.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Professional Biography

Dr. David S. Thornhill is a pastor and leader in the Church of the Nazarene with a special interest in church growth and pastoral leadership.