Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Joshua Henson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bethany Peters

Third Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Carter


Ministry leaders are leaving the vocation in record numbers, largely due to a lack of intentional leadership development or preparedness for the challenges they face. These leaders require a formalized process for developing both the cognitive and behavioral aspects of leading in the local church that authentic and spiritual leadership comprise. The exemplar examined in this case study, recognizing similar challenges, implemented a leadership development process derived from components of both authentic and spiritual leadership. Over the span of just 3 years, the church experienced a nearly 20-point increase in employee engagement, earning them the title of Best Christian Workplace. According to the Best Christian Workplaces Institute (2022), a 10-point swing in employee engagement is high. The fact that the exemplar experienced a nearly 20-point swing is extremely rare. The purpose of this study was to explore authentic and spiritual leadership development in the local church through the exemplar of this large evangelical church in Virginia. The findings confirmed that the exemplar has not only incorporated components of both authentic and spiritual leadership into their leadership development framework, but that staff and volunteers credit the exemplar’s intentional process with much of the success they have enjoyed over the past 3 years.