Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)


Barnett College of Ministry & Theology


Department of Christian Ministries and Religion

Primary Advisor

Dr. James Stewart

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Draughon

Third Advisor

Dr. Jim Vigil


Leading churches in revitalization is challenging. Church plateau, decline, and revitalization have been issues for major denominations for years. Revitalization efforts have produced positive results for some churches, but the overall trend of decline in church attendance and participation in North America persists. One complicating factor in engaging church revitalization is the contextual nature of barriers contributing to plateau and decline. Some barriers may be specific to the churches' time, location, and culture. A second complicating factor impacting church revitalization is the COVID-19 pandemic that began early in 2020. This project explores church leadership dynamics during challenges seasons by focusing on the question, "How has COVID-19 impacted the contextual barriers contributing to church plateau and decline in churches in Mobile, Alabama?" This qualitative phenomenological study involving pastors and leaders of churches in Mobile, AL answers the research question. This study identified leadership and a proportionate external focus as essential elements for assisting churches in growing out of plateau and decline in the COVID-19 era. Leaders must re-orient churches to the necessity of an external focus as the first and primary focus to enable the church to align its identity as a witnessing and inviting community with its mission of fulfilling the Great Commission.