My fields of study are organizational communication and rhetoric (public speaking). These fields are highly relevant to the institutional life of the church given our focus on preaching and organizational leadership. The repeated findings by those who evaluate clergy effectiveness suggest that communication is at the top of everyone’s assessment of church leadership requirements.
Examples of research I have done/or am currently doing.
- Rhetorical analysis of a recent debt reduction capital campaign with an eye toward establishing a set of basic rules for practitioners in executing similar campaigns.
- Rhetorical analysis of speech acts concerning controversial doctrinal issues within the United Methodist Church.
- Organizational research on the communication strategies employed by the senior leadership of a large United Methodist Church in turning around morale and trust in executive management. (Read more here)
The last item is the emerging focus of my research agenda, namely a focus on identifying and understanding the communicative leadership processes leading to organizational turn-around within churches and non-profit organizations. Most clergy and lay leadership exist in situations that require skills and abilities in turn-around management. Only a handful of individuals are engaged in new-church starts, and even those will, Like Resurrection, quickly struggle with organizational communication if they successfully navigate the early stages of their development.
My focus, therefore, is helping local leadership understand how to communicate effectively and how to structure organizations for proper communication flow, so that they can experience renewal, revitalization, and a deep commitment to their core mission, vision, and values.
While I am still formulating my dissertation proposal, it is likely that I will seek to study turn-around leadership at churches of all sizes and demographic configurations within the United Methodist denomination. My goal is to develop resources for clergy and lay leadership formation that will prepare those in the trenches with the skills necessary for leading in this all too common context.