Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award

May 1997


The purpose of this study was to compose a profile of characteristics of a competent elder as a leader of Christian churches/churches of Christ for the year 2010. An essential component of this composition was the identification of issues that elders are likely to face in the 21st century church. A second objective was to identify effective ways in which elders can be prepared to meet the challenges of leading congregations in the beginning of the 21st century. A Delphi Technique was applied in this study since it is a particularly efficient research tool used in building consensus and in forecasting future needs and trends. A group consisting of 10 elders, 10 ministers, 10 faculty members, and 10 writers was assembled to serve as an expert panel. Two rounds of questionnaires were mailed to these individuals. The first round consisted of nine questions that solicited a narrative type response. Qualitative analysis of Round 1 yielded 66 statements that comprised the second questionnaire. The level of agreeability and likelihood of occurrence associated with the response of each panelist to the 66 statements of Round 2 was ascertained using a Likert scale and a probability factor. Consensus was reached on 47 items. Issues identified include: family breakdown, fragmentation of society, pluralism, change, vision/mission, diversity, unity, and spirituality. Characteristics, based on consensus, suggest an elder in the year 2010 should be a team player, seeking to work in harmony with other elders and ministers. The effective elder will display a strong sense of collegiality, characterized by trust, love, respect, camaraderie, and mutual accountability. Elders will need to be carefully and prayerfully chosen with the primary criteria being spiritual qualities, giftedness, and proven leadership abilities. An elder must create and maintain a vital commitment to a clear and widely owned vision for the church and should be competent at keeping the vision lucid, pointing the way, guiding, motivating, challenging, inspiring, instructing, and enabling the congregation to function as a unified organism. Elders in the year 2010 should be committed to spiritual and leadership development in themselves. At the same time, the effective elder should be a mentor and teacher to others, helping to prepare them as servants of Christ. The elder must be a person who models integrity and genuine devotion to Christ thereby encouraging the congregation to be a moral and ethical people.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted

Included in

Religion Commons