Church Leadership: Conceptual Framework


The problem of effective leadership has become particularly topical for modern churches. According to a recent study by Jones,1 the drop in the number of church memberships observed over the past few decades has been quite staggering. The report indicates a stupendous drop of 70% in the number of church members since the 1990ies.2 Thus, there is an evident and quite troubling trend in contemporary American society, which points to the drop in the number of churchgoers. The described tendency may also be indicative of a number of alterations in society, including a drop in spirituality and importance Christian values, shift in the understanding of the role of spiritual growth in people’s lives, and other crucial changes3.

Theoretical Foundations

The introduction of the principles of the Great Commission as they were established by Jesus Christ in His teachings should be placed in the center of the current discipleship and the development of church leadership skills. Implying that the concepts of spirituality and universality as the foundational pillars of Christian unity should be introduced into the context of church leadership, the specified concepts need to be integrated into the context of the contemporary Christian environment.

Thus, multiple issues and problems in church leadership will be addressed on multiple levels due to the opportunities for reinforcing the critical messages of Christ’s teachings in an easily understandable manner. Moreover, with the enhancement of the concept of universality in church leadership, the essential concepts of Christianity will become palatable to all churchgoers. As a result, the extent of spirituality n believers will rise; moreover, new members may emerge as people are convinced that Christian faith is built on the notions of compassion, love, and support.

Thus, the principles of the Universal Leadership as they were told by Christ have to be integrated into the contemporary religious context. This literature review will consider the key impediments toward the introduction of effective Christian leadership into the environment of modern parishes, as well as the effects that the Universal Leadership approach will provide to amend these issues, respectively. The review will continue with the investigation of the current failure of evangelization and the opportunities that the Universal Leadership style introduces for managing it. Finally, the process of the implementation of the Universal Leadership approach and the expected outcomes that it will entail will be described.

In order to approach the problem of the droop in the significance of the role of the church in people’s lives, one may need to investigate the current approaches toward leadership in the church as one of the sources of answers to the identified problem. When considering the approaches toward leadership in the church, particularly, the use of leadership in the Christian Church, one should mention the presence of several conceptual models.

These include the Bible Timothy leadership (BTL), Paul leadership, and Jesus leadership, with the Great Commission being one of the foundational standards for implementing change in the religious context. The proposed models will represent the foundational principles of the approach proposed in this paper, being composed into a single entity of the Universal Leadership that will allow for much more efficacious management of the processes of evangelization and the promotion of the word of Christ to the target communities. However, other approaches will also be studied along with the specified frameworks in order to encompass the possibilities for the successful implementation of the foundational principles of Christianity in leading the target population.

The integration of the principles of the Bible of Timothy leadership is expected to address the issues of unity that the contemporary Christian Church has been experiencing for a significant amount of time. The proposed component of a greater model of the Universal Leadership will increase the extent to which the community of Christians is integrated and unified. Indeed, according to the Gospel, a true leader must exhibit the following traits:

A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overfond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect.4

The proposed characteristics, in turn, will affect the performance of a church leader by offering them the opportunity to engage in the continuous spiritual development and acquire new skills, improving the general performance. As a result, the extent of engagement among the disciples will rise systematically, causing an improvement in the communication process, the efficacy of knowledge sharing, and the ultimate development of the knowledge base with the help of which disciples will promote the concept of Christianity on the global scale in the future.

Another critical part of the framework in question is represented by the Bethel Leaders Network produced by the Bethel Church. The specified approach is based on the notion of reviving leaders and can be seen as the perfect solution for the observed problem in the contemporary Christian church setting due to the lack of motivation in leaders. While the model in question does not come directly from the Gospel, it is inspired by the teachings of Christ and, therefore, ha to be seen as a legitimate framework for addressing the problem of the lack of inspiration and the absence of decent leadership approaches in the target setting, in general. According to the tenets of the Bethel Leaders Network model, the proposed leadership approach integrates the notions of the Christin revival and passion for the promotion of Heaven on earth. As the proponents of the model explain,

Bethel Leaders Network (BLN) is Bethel Church’s relational network of revival leaders. It exists to connect and encourage revivalists everywhere in every type of career or vocation to see the Kingdom of God advance. Through relationship with others passionate about bringing heaven to earth, we aim to resource leaders in churches, ministries, organizations, spheres of influence and geographical regions to see transformation and experience worldwide revival.5

Overall, the model seems to retain the focus on the reinforcement of the traditional Christian values and the promotion of the ideas of revivalism to the Christian community. The approach mentioned above seems to be quite legitimate in the context of the contemporary condition of the Christian church, given the lack of enthusiasm and the absence of a clear compass according to which new Christian leaders have to guide their disciples. Therefore, the integration of the BLN model will allow one to gain a clear vision of the key goals and the direction in which the leadership process has to be geared.

However, the frameworks represented above are unlikely to support the process of managing the current problem of the lack of inspiration and spirituality in the Christian church alone. Specifically, in order to handle the issue under analysis and contribute to the revival of the traditional Christian values within the target community, one will need to combine the two models together, thus creating the framework for tacking new Christian leaders how to approach diverse communities and appeal to the target population.

The adoption of the leadership model created by Paul as one of the constituents of the leadership style defined as Universal in this paper is a pivotal step in designing the leadership approach that will keep the focus of disciples on the importance of Christian values and the idea of education and sharing knowledge as one of the main tools in increasing the pace of evangelization. The leadership of Paul is traditionally seen as that one of a witness, which can be considered an important example of what a true believer has to do in order to gain the necessary extent of spirituality. Particularly, the leadership of Paul is usually viewed by considering the characteristics such as courage, suffering, respect, and concern for others.6

The described qualities should be interpreted as the foundational standards for guiding disciples into becoming future leaders themselves as the specified framework also focuses on the development of the qualities that a true Christian has to possess and, therefore, the ones that an actual Christian leader has to display. However, the application of the framework as it was suggested by Paul cannot be regarded as a legitimate tool on its own; instead, to become a part of the Universal leadership model, it will need the support of the remaining three.

In addition to the ideas that Jesus’s disciples introduced to the audience as the foundational standards for developing spirituality and growing as a believer, the importance of the ideas as they were voiced by Jesus themselves are not to be overlooked when building the Universal leadership model for contemporary Christian church. While the standards for behaviors and attitudes that Jesus provided are very numerous, several crucial principles following which will help one to become closer to the ideal represented by Jesus will be possible. According to the Bible, the leadership of Jesus implied that one should adopt the approach that approaches the notion of servant leadership.

In its nature, the leadership of Jesus is quite close to that one of Paul since the latter also insisted on the importance of serving people as opposed to becoming the head of the crowd. In other words, the leadership of Jesus is based on the idea of leading ethically.7 Thus, the introduction of the leadership standards of Jesus and those of Paul will allow building an ethical framework on which the entirety of the spiritual guidance provided to the disciples will reside.

At this point, one should mention the need to introduce another theoretical framework that will allow connecting the leadership of Jesus to the rest of the models introduced in this paper. Specifically, the spiritual leadership theory (SLT) needs to be considered as the cornerstone of the new, unified approach that will be represented by the concept of the Universal Leadership. Linked to the idea of spirituality at work (SAW), the SLT implies that one has to provide moral guidance and an ethical stance for disciples to adopt.8

Finally, one should give credit to where it is due and mention the Great Commission as the source of another addition to the Universal Christin Leadership model. Based on the Gospel of Matthew, the concept of the Great Commission will allow for the management of some of the most complex issues within the contemporary Christian church. In its nature, the Great Commission can be seen as the tool that helps to establish the relationships between a religious leader and their disciples.

Specifically, the perspective in question allows reducing the potential impact of an overly powerful leader in the Christian environment, where disciples might confuse the figure of the said leader as the only authority that they should seek as opposed to that one of Jesus. In turn, the integration of the Great Commission principles will help to avoid the specified issue since it places emphasis on the correct religious principles that believers have to follow. Particularly, the following excerpt of the Great Commission should be viewed as especially important in building the Universal model in accordance with which the process of teaching disciples and promoting the necessary Christian values should begin:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.9

In the excerpt provided above, the significance of acknowledging the authority of Jesus Christ as the only superior leader Whose ideas and words should always come first is reinforced. The resulting change in the perspective of believers and disciples, who may consider their educator as the ultimate source of knowledge, is crucial to the professional transformation that they need to experience in order to gain the needed knowledge and skills, as well as gain the spirituality needed to become ministers. It is critical to keep the philosophy and the persona of Jesus as the central ones in the Christian faith, thus encouraging disciples to follow the example that Jesus set as the best way of gaining the Christian virtues needed to become religious leaders themselves.

Theological Foundations

One could argue that the proposed change should be aligned with the introduction of Charismatic leadership into the process of change. On a closer evaluation of the proposed method of leading the parish, one will have to agree that the Charismatic Leadership style as a range of advantages for guiding others and encouraging them to grow spiritually. In their study, Walls marks the unique impact that the use of the Charismatic Leadership style has on believers.10 In addition, the study by Corcoran and Wellman mentions that some of the most prominent and prolific Christian figures displayed the qualities of Charismatic leaders.11

Nonetheless, the specified approach toward leading the parish may be fraught with some seriously negative consequences, including the probability of idealizing the leader.12 As a result, the latter may become prone to developing the qualities that will be misaligned with the basic Christian virtue of humility, as well as several other principles that constitute a Christian leader. Therefore, the adoption of the Charismatic leadership style as the method of guiding the members of a parish has not been looked upon entirely positively throughout the development of the notion of Christian leadership. Due to the threat of gaining hubris, one will have to consider the Charismatic Leadership style only as a complementary tool in gaining the attention and support of Christian believers, simultaneously relying on a much stronger and more sturdy approach toward leading a parish.

The threats of false grace and leadership becoming more important to parish members than faith may turn out to be much more tangible with the introduction of a strongly charismatic leader into the specified setting. According to Corcoran and Wellman, charismatic leadership may lead to “a conflict between followers’ perceptions of the leader as God, the embodiment of truth, and so on, and her ordinary human qualities and behaviors.”13 Thus, the overly strong emphasis on the use of charismatic leadership may lead to the ultimate fallacy of false grace.

However, with the increase in the connectivity between religion and other aspects of people’s lives, the necessity to shift to different approaches toward leadership has emerged. Therefore, the introduction of the Christ-centered and motivation-oriented leadership style into the Christian religious environment can be considered a fully justified step from the psychological and ideological perspectives.14 According to the research by Knowlton et al., the adoption of the specified leadership style contributes to a rapid and profound change in people’s attitudes, which is critical for the reinforcement of the importance of and compliance with Christian values. Specifically, people are likely to abandon the behaviors that are ultimately harmful to them and their families, as well as the global community as a whole.15

The introduction of the leadership approach based on love and motivation is believed to have a much more positive effect on Christian believers since it will create a sense of homogeneity in the core values that they will be encouraged to pursue. As a result, a church leader will be able to preach the idea of unity to the target demographic, thus affecting the extent of their spirituality and promoting further acquisition and development of Christian virtues and values.

Indeed, the integration of the idea of love as a general ability to empathize with and be appreciative of a fellow Christian believer will have a strongly positive effect on the community. Ko argues that, with the application of the leadership technique based on the promotion of love and nurturing, a Christian leader becomes capable of building motivation and the willingness to accept crucial Christian values in believers.16

The application of the Universal Leadership, in turn, is expected to assist in coordinating the problems caused by the incongruences in the current history of church leadership. While representing a rather basic structure and being very direct in its message, the Universal Leadership provides a perfect roadmap for engaging parish members and the Christian community, in general, into the acceptance of and compliance with the traditional Christian values. By definition, the Universal Leadership suggests that the very essence of Christ’s teachings should be followed precisely, which will help to avoid deviation from the righteous path:

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.17

With the introduction of the leadership based on the elements of the inspirational approach as the means of motivating Christian believers to accept crucial Christian values and follow the ideas and principles that will help in reinforcing the importance of cooperation. As a result, the community of Christians will strengthen to gain the global status and become the place where the process of sharing knowledge, ideas, philosophies, and values will become completely uninhibited and free.

The specified task is fraught with multiple challenges that include the need to address some of the inconsistencies in the established model of leadership within the Christian church, as well as unify the process of leadership across Christian churches due to the lack of homogeneity in the target setting. The resulting change in the extent of acceptance of Christian values and principles among disciples, as well as their dexterity and prowess in encouraging the target audiences in accepting the Christian faith, are expected to increase.

Conceptual Model and Its Impact

Thus, the introduction of the Universal conceptual framework of leadership into the modern Christian educational setting is highly required. The need for the described change is justified by the rise in the levels of diversity and the need to adapt to it by creating a homogenous framework that could appeal to all participants involved in the Christian discourse. However, due to the differences in the cultural perspectives and even the issues such as the linguistic misconceptions, the process of incorporating the Universal Leadership tool is likely to face multiple impediments. Indeed, according to Jenkins, it is critical to embrace the idea of the multicultural community of Christian believers that will expand to reach the global level and embrace the needs of believers from every continent.18

Therefore, it is mandatory to introduce the tools that will reduce the extent of cross-cultural tensions between the participants of the dialogue. The specified aspect of the Universal Leadership conceptual framework is particularly important when introducing education tools into the academic setting for the disciples. Due to the incongruences in the perspectives of an educator and their multicultural disciples, a misunderstanding may occur, causing an array of complications ranging from the misconstrued perception of the Christian principles to confrontations between the participant of the dialogue. Therefore, the integration of the multicultural tools that will allow reducing the extent of tension and introduce all parties involved to the idea of a peaceful conversation is critical.

Another factor that is likely to drive the process of promoting the idea of Christianity even further and encourage new participants t become active believers is the failure of evangelization, which can be observed in a range of areas currently. In its essence, the concept of evangelization, also referred to as evangelism, is rather straightforward, meaning literally spreading the word of Christ and promoting the acquisition of Christian beliefs among a specific demographic.19

The notion of evangelization is fairly simple; implying the presence of faith, in general, it suggests that the target demographic has any semblance of faith in them. James defines the concept of evangelization slightly differently, placing a greater emphasis on the idea of “the 241,”20 the phenomenon of evangelization has been taking a significant statistical dive recently.21 The change in the extent of evangelization could be technically explained by the fact that the process of spreading Christian faith occurs at a more rapid pace than the birth and cognitive development of potential new believers. However, the decrease in the rate of evangelization compared to previous years still causes significant concerns, leading to assume that people are less likely to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior nowadays than they used to a couple of years ago.

The overview performed above indicates that there has been a significant problem in keeping the extent of people’s beliefs at the same level, as well as recruiting new believers with the same passion and success as in previous years. The work performed by ministers and other Christian leaders sees to produce much lesser impact than previously, which causes for the investigation of the reasons why Christian leadership has been failing consistently and the rates of believers along with the extent and intensity of their religious beliefs, has been faltering.

The factors that incline Christian leaders toward being less efficient than previously are quite numerous, yet most of them boil down to the lack of an effective framework for leading the target demographic. For this reason, an improved conceptual framework has to be incorporated into the process of further evangelization of the global community. The resulting shift in the understanding of the basics of Christianity and especially the teaching of Jesus, as well as the perception and acceptance of traditional Christian values rooted in empathy and kindness, is expected to be quite striking.

While being a fairly simple explanation for the absence of efficacy in keeping the extent of Christian believers’ faith and the spread of Christian values across the globe, the increase in workplace burnout rats is a very sense and reasonable explanation of the observed concern. According to Hutchings, Church leaders are much more prone to burnouts than leaders working in other domains due to the need to build emotional rapport with the target population.22

The factors that contribute to the emotional exhaustion and the ensuing workplace burnout in church leaders are quite numerous, yet the need to connect emotionally to every concern within the community and respond appropriately to the requests of its members is one of the most obvious aspects of Christian leaders’ responsibilities that entail the described outcomes. Although the need to connect to every concern within the target Christian community on an emotional level may be quite rewarding, as Wagner points out, the resulting drop in efficacy and workplace performance due to overly high extent of emotional labor is evident.23

The absence of unity in the Christian church has been the subject of multiple long debates due to the significance of the issue and the weight that it has on all parties involved. The problem of the lack of unity has been addressed in multiple studies; particularly, the research by Payne. represents a notable assessment of the impact that the lack of unity within the church produces on Christian believers and church leaders.24 However, the lack of unity within the Christian community can also be seen as the problem linked directly to the issue of church leadership. Specifically, the concern in question can be interpreted as both the cause and the aftermath of poor leadership implemented within the setting of the Christian church.

As Krispin reports, the enhancement of unity within a church is critical and should start with the reinforcement of unity within a team.25 Therefore, the introduction of the principles of Christian unity should be recognized as the matter of the first-hand importance in the context of the global Christian community, as well as local ones.

The issue of unity within a church as the main factor in improving the quality of leadership is defined by the vast opportunities for collaboration and support that it provides. In part, the enhancement of unity within the entire parish, as well as within the global Christian community, in general, can be seen as a solution to other leadership-related problems. For example, in the context of the Christian church, the introduction of unity between its members can relieve Church leaders, namely, ministers and pastors, of some of the pressure, thus alleviating their situation in regard to stress that they experience. Thus, the problem of burnouts caused by overly strong engagement with every member of the community can be addressed.

Another issue that defines the efficacy of church leadership and may have caused the current drop in the extent of churchgoers’ motivation and spirituality, the absence of joy and satisfaction derived from work is attention-worthy. The resulting inability to connect with parish members and other Christians, in general, affects the quality of leadership, causing the extent of compassion in Christian leaders to drop. As a result, the rapport between leaders and believers slowly vanishes, causing a gradual decrease in the levels of spirituality within the community. In addition, as the emotional connection between Christian leaders and their followers disintegrates, the threat of a drop in enthusiasm and, therefore, faith, emerges.

In turn, with the introduction of an adequate leadership framework, joy can be introduced into the workplace setting of a Christian leader ad promoted actively. According to the principles of the Universal Leadership, gaining the possibility of experiencing the feelings of joy, peace, and love, as well as other positive emotions including sympathy and reaching happiness as a more general experience, is seen as one of the critical constituents of faith.26

Therefore, the application of the principles of the Universal leadership into the contemporary Christian setting and reinforcing the ardor with which Christian leaders encourage the development of the respective qualities in their parish member and in Christian, in general, is highly recommended. Herein lies the importance of incorporating the principles of Evangelism into the implementation of the Universal Leadership principles and guiding believers to the acceptance of Christian values and its philosophy. Andrews mentions the joy that Paul experienced when converting people to the Christian faith and teaching them the word of Christ.27

The incorporation of the Universal Leadership principles will also allow addressing one of the most pressing concerns that the Christian church has to face presently. While encouraging the expansion of Christianity and the emergence of newly converted Christian believers is an essential goal of modern Christian leaders, the differences in the value system, philosophy, morals, and overall worldview often represent a major roadblock in the promotion of the word of Christ.

Therefore, the management of cross-cultural dialogue and the attempts at overcoming cultural differences should be seen as one of the points of concern for modern religious leaders. In turn, the adoption of the Universal Leadership principles is bound to assist in managing the cross-cultural issues that may arise in the course of communication between a Christian leader and the target audience.

The incorporation of cross-cultural elements of communication required for building a coherent dialogue between a leader and the community members, in turn, may be reinforced with the application of an appropriate leadership model. Jones et al. outline the vast range of influences that a universal leader can have on their target audience in regard to the management of cross-cultural communication and reducing the probability of a cross-cultural conflict, according to Sills.”28 Moreover, the authors dissect the concept of Universal leadership to distinguish three crucial characteristics thereof. According to Jones et al., the notion of the Universal Leadership is composed of four reflective subdimensions, namely, “Ability, Adaptability, Ambassadorship, and Awareness (self),”29 which are also usually defined as the “four As.”30

The incorporation of the specified four dimensions into the management of the needs of Christian believers and the promotion of the development of Christian qualities, as well as the acceptance of the related values, is crucial. Specifically, the described four aspects of Universal Leadership allow one to acquire a sense of self in their spiritual journey, thus accepting the Christian philosophy consciously and with complete awareness of the moral and ethical obligations that the described decision entails.

In the context of cross-cultural communication, the development of awareness toward the acceptance of Christian values and beliefs is essential since it allows one to make an informed choice. The integration of the basic concepts of Universal Leadership minimizes the possibility of a cross-cultural misunderstanding, thus conveying the main message and the ideas promoted by the spiritual leader unambiguously and unequivocally. Thus, a Christian leader becomes capable of influencing the behaviors and attitudes of Christian believers, as well as other types of their target audience, on a multicultural and even global scale, which is critical for the communities featuring high levels of diversity.

Due to the large levels of diversity in most modern communities mentioned above, the importance of utilizing the leadership model that will encourage unity among believers and even encourage eh representatives of other religions or denominations to accept the Christian faith increases exponentially. What remains particularly important in the reinforcement of the Universal Leadership principles in the Christian setting is the opportunity to promote the idea of cultural sensitivity, thus increasing the rates of inclusivity within the target community. The resulting rise in the motivation and engagement levels in believers, as well as those that are considering to accept the Christian faith, is bound to be stunning.

Therefore, the incorporation of cultural sensitivity into the set of leadership skills that one needs to possess in order to encourage people to accept Christian values and follow the word of Jesus is critical. The descried role of a church leader aligns with the concept of Evangelism discussed above as the method of spreading the idea of Christianity across the global community, at the same time reinforcing unity among Christians. Andrews tackles the specified issue quite directly and successfully in his work, pointing out the fact that every Christian has an incessantly burning desire to express their love for God.31

Outlining that the specified desire is tied intrinsically to the fact that faith originates from hearing the word of God, Andrews encourages the process of Evangelism, thus supporting the principles of the Universal Leadership model as one of the pillars of addressing some of the critical concerns within the Christian community.32 However, the process of preaching may ultimately fail unless a Christian leader is capable of connecting to the target population on a deeply emotional and culturally important level.

Herein lies the role of cultural sensitivity as one of the foundational notions that a true Christian leader has to be supportive of in the environment of the global multicultural community. The introduction of the Universal Leadership approach, in turn, creates ample opportunities for a church leader to establish a multicultural rapport with their community members and ensure that they accept the teachings of Christ as their guide.

The implementation of the principles of the Universal Leadership in discipleship programs will allow resolving a range of issues in the contemporary religious settings and encourage the promotion of communication and unity, in general, among believers. At this point, defining the concept of the Universal Leadership style and the characteristics that it possesses will be necessary. However, when analyzing the phenomenon of the Universal Leadership, one may find out that locating the exact definition may require significant efforts, mostly due to the fact that the specified approach is not singled out as a specific leadership style and is, instead, viewed as the amalgam of the already existing approaches.

Remarkably, the notion of the Universal Leadership is often referred to as the extension of the Servant leadership style due to its connection to the needs and requirements of its target demographic and the willingness of a leader to satisfy these needs appropriately. For instance, Carroll and Patterson concede that “servant leadership is a Universal Leadership model, because at its core is something that is common to all cultures – humanity.”33 Thus, the principles of the cross-cultural dialogue are promoted further to establish an even stronger connection between Christian leaders and community members that have not been evangelized yet.

Due to the need to focus on the promotion of the cross-cultural dialogue, the integration of the Universal Leadership principles becomes paramount to the further enhancement of unity within the Christian society, as well as the evangelization of the rest of the target population. The role of cross-cultural competence increases drastically in the specified context due to the need to appeal to a wide variety of backgrounds and create a rapport with a huge number of believers.

The Universal Leadership principles, in turn, are likely to create the platform for building ties with the target demographic. Nonetheless, the challenges that Christian leaders are likely to face in the process of evangelization and the general promotion of awareness about the significance of Christian values are immense. The study by Chiu et al. outlines the problematic aspects of the specified task, making the issue of cultural awareness explicit.

In addition to the models described above, the one known as the Association of Related Churches (ARC) will have to be introduced into the combination in order to make the final conceptual framework polished and ready to be applied to the management of the problem of education and communication in the contemporary Christian environment. The ARC framework is traditionally defined as the one that encourages active development of the Christian church, especially in the areas where Christian beliefs are not as common as the rest of religious ideas. Therefore, the ARC concept is rooted in the philosophy of evangelization, which is going to be very helpful in establishing the Universal Leadership framework.

Indeed, since the latter is based on the notion of evangelization and spreading the word of Jesus to as many denizens of the local community as possible, the incorporation of the ARC principles into it would be the next logical step to take. According to the definition provided by the founders of the ARC as a concept, it equates to the process of attaining the “goal is for pastors, leaders, and future church planters to build relationships with one another and receive resources that will help the local church thrive.”34

Therefore, the suggested addition to the Universal Leadership framework will help to expand the process of knowledge sharing between participants by incorporating innovative tools for sharing information globally. The described strategy will serve to build and increase the extent of connectivity between Christians and Christian communities to create the global one, where participants will be able to share their experiences and develop spiritually.

The proposed model aligns with the idea of the disciple-making church voiced by Hull. According to the author, it is desirable that disciples should be trained to spread the word of Christ further to others and engage as many people as possible in the religious dialogue.

However, currently, disciples are typically viewed as learners, with no options for training substantial leadership skills and qualities, as well as the ability to share knowledge and construct new ones, has been offered. The integration of the Universal Leadership standards as the concept of leadership that transcends cultural boundaries will allow amending the specified incongruence in the modern Christian education. Thus, the process of learning will be launched across the globe, allowing participants to communicate and collaborate. As a result, disciples will be able to share knowledge actively, simultaneously involving other people into the discussion and continuing the process of evangelization.

Partnerships between Churches

In addition, the incorporation of the ARC framework is expected to cause the process of collaboration and partnership between church leaders more effective. Currently, the lack of cooperation can be observed in the Christian environment, which may be partially attributed to the presence of a rigid hierarchy and the discrepancies in perspective son specific theological aspects of Christianity. However, while the difference between different congregation and churches have to be respected, as well as the fact that their members may belong to entirely different cultures, the divide between Christian communities needs to be sealed in order to strengthen the Christian faith and promote further evangelization.

Therefore, the incorporation of the framework that would assist in encouraging the development of the Universal Leadership principle as the foundational conceptual model for managing relationships between believers has to be recognized as not only necessary but also inevitable. Without the specified tool, the process of educating disciples and ensuring that knowledge sharing occurs at the required velocity and energy will be barely possible.

When considering the importance of the principles of the Universal Leadership for the contemporary Christian discipleship, one should mention the lack of unity among Christians. The observed trend is quite disturbing, given its implications for the future promotion of the Christian ideas and the evangelization of a greater number of people. The situation with the lack of motivation among Christians demands fro urgent measures, namely, the reconsideration of how disciples are trained and how Church leaders use their influence to convince people to accept the Christian value and faith. Specifically, Shirley explains that the process of evangelization and the general change in believers’ behaviors and attitudes should start with the alterations in how the notion of Christianity is perceived within the church.35

Namely, Shirley emphasizes the role of setting clear goals and main deliverables when establishing a model for change in the target environment. Using the example of Jesus Christ as the main role model for establishing the ideas of Christianity within local and global communities, as well as rendering the notions of Christian virtues and beliefs to disciples, Shirley explains that Jesus envisioned the main goal to produce the desired effect. According to the author,

When Jesus chose His disciples, He already had the final product in mind. He focused His ministry efforts on shaping these disciples into an ever-clearer representation of Himself. Likewise, the local church should begin the process of making disciples by starting with the end in mind: a paradigm of an authentic disciple, a vision of what it means to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ.36

The application of the proposed model might seem as conflicting with the principles of the humble leadership that does not attempt at placing the leader at the top of the hierarchy. Indeed, the integration of the model with the help of which a church leader strives to follow the example of Christ to the tiniest detail might come far too close to the idea of the Charismatic Leadership model mentioned above. As a result, the opportunity to introduce the idea of humility and implant it into disciples will be missed.

However, the proposed leadership approach does not suggest copying the example of Jesus; instead, it encourages one to accept the ideas that He promoted and apply them while retaining the crucial sense of humility. Therefore, the promotion of the specified model is central to the management of the current situation with the education of disciples and the enhancement of evangelization on the levels of both local and global communities.

Remarkably, the proposed conceptual framework will entail a sharp decrease in the number of conflicts occurring in the context of the Christian community, in general, and local communities, in particular. The issue of confrontations within Christian community members has been the source of major concern for a while, leading to the aggravation of the issue with the lack of motivation among Christian leaders.37

Arguably, the observed trend can be named as one of the primary factors that may have caused a rise in reluctance among community members to become effective church leaders.38 Therefore, addressing the described concern will lead to the reinforcement of the relationships that cause disagreements and confrontations within the Christian community.39 In turn, the application of the Universal Leadership approach as the combination of the BTL technique and Paul’s leadership.

In addition, the application of another critical aspect of the proposed framework of Universal Leadership, namely, the Great Commission, might seem as slightly confusing due to the possible misunderstandings of the nature of teachings that Christian leaders and the followers of Christ are expected to teach to the target population. According to Thomas, the specified issue may lead to misconceptions and even cause conflicts between leaders in the church settings.

Specifically, Thomas explains that the idea of obeying the teachings of Christ should lie at the core of the leadership framework as the cornerstone principle that will guide a church leader toward the implementation of the program and the promotion of the required values in the future ministers.40 Specifically, Thomas notes that, while the focus of the teachings may have shifted, the main message behind them remains the same at its core, promoting the values such as empathy, kindness to others, respect, faith, unity, spirituality, and the related characteristics that comprise the nature of a true Christian. Specifically, Thomas explains the following: “The true intention of Jesus must not have been for the disciples to teach the precise words He taught them, but that they should use discernment in interpreting what and how to teach.”41

Thus, the nature of the teachings, including the ideas of Christian brotherhood, the unique approach toward evangelization as the tool for promoting salvation, and other characteristics of the Christian faith should be implanted into the body of the framework that will be used to practice Christianity. Thomas also believes that the described change in the approach toward promoting the Christian faith to the target audience was dictated by the unique environment in which Jesus had to proselytize the target population: “To handle the commands and the teachings of Christ correctly, one must keep in mind His narrow focus in choosing listeners during His first advent.”42

The specified conclusion implies that the application of the suggested framework may be shaped slightly depending on the audience for which it is intended, as well as the environment in which it is promoted. Given the difference in both of the specified factors, namely, the change in the perception of an individual within a community and the alterations in the sociocultural context, one will need to admit the significance of deploying the concept of the Universal Leadership as the amalgam of the four leadership approaches described above as the only solution to the current situation. Due to the rise in the extent of diversity within the Christian community and the need to appeal to every single denizen of the specified population, it is critical to integrate the concepts of the Universal Leadership framework into the contemporary setting of the Christian church.

With the incorporation of the notions of humility, love, peace, and compassion, one will provide the platform for the continuous increase in the number of Christian believers and the followers of Jesus’ teachings. Moreover, the efficacy of the current educational process, namely, the preparation of the disciples that will advocate Christian beliefs, philosophy, and principles to a wider audience and, ultimately, the global community, will rise. The incorporation of the Universal Leadership standards will allow one to train the necessary skills and characteristics that will assist disciples in training the skills needed for strong Christian leadership.

In addition, the incorporation of the idea of Universality as the cornerstone conceptual framework for changing the current landscape of Christian education is highly likely to influence the manner in which the dialogue within the Christian community and especially between leaders and disciples will occur. Namely, the problem of conflicts in the target setting caused by the incongruences between the beliefs of the parties involved will be addressed respectively, which will help to avoid or, at the very least, significantly alleviate the threat of confrontations caused by differences in culture-specific perceptions of the participants.

Finally, the opportunities for transforming the process of discipleship into that one of combined learning and mentorship needs to be addressed as one of the primary benefits of the selected model. The Universal Leadership framework as a combination of several leadership strategies traditionally used in the confinement of the Christian church is expected to lead to the reinforcement of the significance of support and shared knowledge within the religious setting.

As a result, the role of disciples will incorporate not only that one of the learners, but also that one of mentors. Consequently, disciples will be able to continue spreading the word of Christ, evangelizing other audiences and increasing the number of believers. Moreover, the introduction of a homogenous value system and ethical standards will become a possibility once the Universal Leadership conceptual framework is established within the target setting. Specifically, the described tool is expected to produce a rapid change in the perception of Christian values, the role of a Christian leader in the global and local community, and the related concerns tied to the current state of the Christian church.

It is also noteworthy that the proposed change to the conceptual framework of the Christian church leadership will place much more emphasis on the importance of training than any other program used before. Due to the combination of the elements of education and the importance of transforming the ancient Biblical concepts to those that are applicable to the present-day reality, the Universal Leadership concept suggests that the qualities and skills of a true Christian leader are not innate, but acquired.43

The described stance on the nature of leadership in Christianity and the effects that it produces on the target population will help to promote education and the development of the necessary qualities in a much larger range of disciples since the opportunities for becoming a Christian leader will be open to anyone willing to accept the learning process. Thus, the quality and extent of knowledge sharing and promotion, as well as the efficacy of evangelization, will rise drastically once the conceptual framework of the Universal Leadership strategy is integrated into the analysis. In fact, the Universal approach toward Christian leadership is also bound to cause a shift in the understanding of Christian principles of empathy and kindness as the foundational ideas for communication.

The task of introducing an appropriate leadership strategy into the contemporary religious and especially Christian environment is excruciatingly difficult due to the increase in the extent of diversity and the challenges associated with appealing to people from different cultural backgrounds. However, the identified issue can be managed by introducing the conceptual framework of the Universal Leadership style, which arises from several Christian leadership models combined into a single entity. The specified approach is believed to have a directly positive effect on the extent to which disciples will accept the word of Christ, as well as the willingness with which they will incorporate the traditional Christian values and virtues into their philosophy.

Upholding to the rigid Christian standards of morality and ethics is quite difficult alone, yet the presence of other numerous points of conflict that may tear the very fabric of the Christian community asunder have to be considered as well when designing an appropriate leadership framework. Currently, the lack of motivation and a drop in spirituality along with the presence of internal conflicts within the Christian setting need to be listed among the priorities that have to be addressed by introducing a strong leadership model.

The combined approach that incorporates the leadership of Jesus, that one of Paul, as well as the conceptual frameworks of the BTL and the Great Commission, is expected to produce a positive effect on the community and the disciples. The described tool will serve as the means of increasing the extent of engagement that future Christian leaders will have in addressing the needs of their target population.

Moreover, the specified framework will serve as the gateway to exploring cross-cultural issues and addressing the conflicts that occur in the environment of the church as well. Defined in this paper as the Universal Leadership approach, the specified conceptual model will allow gauging changes in the extent of the target audience’s spirituality and motivation, as well as their willingness to comply with the established standards and Christian values. As a result, the framework of the Universal leadership is believed to serve as the tool for encouraging and producing a change in the selected community.

In addition, the suggested conceptual framework of the Universal Leadership model is expected to set the tone for the cross-cultural communication within the target setting. Last but not least, the issue of conflict management needs to be addressed as one of the foundational issues in handling the current state of promoting the Christian faith. Due to the increase in conflicts between community members and leaders, the efficacy of evangelization drops drastically, which calls for additional measures in managing the specified situation. The introduction of the Universal leadership principles as the amalgam of four distinctive and efficient leadership styles in Christianity is highly likely to help in addressing the described concern.

Overall, the transformation of the current situation with the preparation of disciples and religious education, in general, can be handled with the help of the proposed conceptual framework. Thus, the Universal Leadership principles should be placed at the top of the current list of priorities for religious leaders in the context of the Christian church. By promoting the concepts of unity, kindness to others, compliance with the general postulates established by Jesus, and other essential ideas on which Christianity is based, one will be able to encourage changes in the present perception of the Christian faith.

As a result, the target population will acquire traditional Christian values more actively, at the same time keeping the cross-cultural dialogue open so that new members could be recruited into the Christian community. Overall, the expected change is believed to have a vastly positive outcome on the results of the research and the following integration of the proposed technique into the framework of the target community.

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Footnotes

  1. Timothy Keller, Serving a Movement: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2016): p. 7.
  2. Craig Ott, and Gene Wilson. Global Church Planting: Biblical Principles and Best Practices for Multiplication (Baker Books, 2010): p. 18.
  3. Marg Perry, “How Can the Life, Ministry, and Teaching of the Apostle Paul, Address the Development of Cross-Cultural Leadership Practice That Is Biblically-Based, and Informed by Relevant Secular Theory?,” Journal of Contemporary Ministry, no. 4 (2018): p. 112.
  4. Timothy 3.
  5. “Bethel Leaders Network,” Bethel. n.d. Web.
  6. Chris Shirley,”It takes a church to make a disciple: An integrative model of discipleship for the local church,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 50, no. 2 (2008): 221.
  7. Minho Song, “Contextualization and discipleship: Closing the gap between theory and practice,” Evangelical Review of Theology 30, no. 3 (2006): 251..
  8. Christopher Mabey, et al. “Having Burned the Straw Man of Christian Spiritual Leadership, What Can We Learn from Jesus about Leading Ethically?.” Journal of Business Ethics 145, no. 4 (2017): 761.
  9. Don Fanning “The Great Commission,” Eruditio Ardescens 1, no. 2 (2014): 2.
  10. Andrew F. Walls, Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith (New York: Orbis Books, 2015): 29.
  11. Katie E. Corcoran and James K. Wellman. ““People Forget He’s Human”: Charismatic Leadership in Institutionalized Religion.” Sociology of Religion 77, no. 4 (2016), p. 312.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Katie E. Corcoran and James K. Wellman. ““People Forget He’s Human”: Charismatic Leadership in Institutionalized Religion.” Sociology of Religion 77, no. 4 (2016), p. 311.
  14. Philip Roberts, Mobilizing a Great Commission Church for Harvest: Voices and Views from the Southern Baptist Professors of Evangelism Fellowship (Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2011): 73.
  15. Knowlton Johnson, Tim Noe, David Collins, Ted Strader, and Gregory Bucholtz, “Mobilizing Church Communities to Prevent Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse,” Journal of Community Practice 7, no. 2 (2000), p. 3.
  16. Hsiu-Ching Ko, “Cross-Cultural Leadership Effectiveness: Perspectives from Non-Western Leaders.” Management and Organizational Studies 2, no. 4 (2015): 12.
  17. Matthew 28:16-20 New International Version (NIV).
  18. Philip Jenkins, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011): p. 7.
  19. Ed Stetzer and David Putman, Breaking the Missional Code: Your Church can become a Missionary in your Community (B&H Publishing Group, 2006): p. 109.
  20. Aboreng Useni James, “Mass media as an effective tool for evangelization and religious unity in Nigeria (Mass media jako skuteczne narzędzie ewangelizacji i religijnej jedności w Nigerii),” Forum Teologizcne 219, p. 2.
  21. Ibid.
  22. Hutchings, Tim. “Contemporary religious community and the online church.” Information, Communication & Society 14, no. 8 (2011): 1126.
  23. C. Peter Wagner, Strategies for Church Growth: Tools for Effective Mission and Evangelism (Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2010): p. 63.
  24. John Payne, Discovering Church Planting; An Introduction to the Whats, Whys, and Hows of Global Church Planting (London: IVP Books, 2009): p. 103.
  25. Krispin Jr, Keith R. “Strengthening Ministry Teams: Facilitating Unity and Cohesiveness,” Christian Education Journal 14, no. 1 (2017): p. 42.
  26. Krispin Jr, Keith R. “Strengthening Ministry Teams: Facilitating Unity and Cohesiveness,” Christian Education Journal 14, no. 1 (2017): p. 43.
  27. Edward D. Andrews, The Evangelism Handbook: How All Christians Can Effectively Share God’s Word in Their Community (Christian Publishing House, 2017).
  28. M. David Sills, Reaching and Teaching: A Call to Great Commission Obedience (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Publishers, 2010): 76.
  29. Robert Paul Jones, et al., “Cross Cultural Consensus: Development of the Universal Leadership Model,” International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 42, no. 4 (2014): p. 249.
  30. Ibid.
  31. James E. Plueddemann, Leading across Cultures: Effective Ministry and Mission in the Global Church (InterVarsity Press, 2012): p. 36.
  32. Ibid.
  33. Carroll, Brian C., and Kathleen Patterson, “Servant leadership: A cross cultural study between India and the United States,” Servant Leadership: Theory & Practice 1, no. 1 (2016): 18.
  34. ARC, About Us, 2019. Web.
  35. John Piper, and David Mathis, Finish the Mission: Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012): p. 29.
  36. Chris Shirley, “It takes a church to make a disciple: An integrative model of discipleship for the local church,” Southwestern Journal of Theology 50, no. 2 (2008): 213.
  37. David M. Setley, and Douglas Gautsch, “Leadership and the Church: The Impact of Shifting Leadership Constructs.” International Journal of Business and Social Research 5, no. 12 (2015): 23.
  38. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Soul-winner: Or How to Lead Sinners to the Saviour (Fleming H. Revell Company, 1895): p. 82.
  39. David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2006): p. 18.
  40. Ed Stetzer, and Mike Dodson, Comeback Churches: How 300 Churches Turned around and Yours Can Too (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2007): p. 66.
  41. Robert L. Thomas, “The Great Commission: What to Teach,” Master’s Seminary Journal 21, no. 1 (2010): p. 8.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Georeg G. Van Wyngaard, “Conceptual Considerations for Studying Churches’ Engagement with Urban Fractures and Vulnerabilities,” HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies 73, no. 3 (2017): 5.