Date of Award

Fall 2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Dr. Joshua Henson

Second Advisor

Dr. Bethany Peters

Third Advisor

Dr. Fredric Rohm

Abstract

The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine house church leaders in situ within three typologies of home gatherings. Billings (2011) identified three stages of house church formats: (a) Oikos, where the congregants assemble in the home for a complete meal, including the Eucharist; (b) Domus, where the curate renovates and dedicates rooms in their homes for Christian usage; and (c) Aula, where rented facilities house larger gatherings, the liturgy becomes more formalized, and the Eucharist is no longer a full meal (Billings, 2011). House church leaders and congregants sampled fit the three typologies while addressing a gap in the literature. Observations, diaries, individual interviews, and focus groups formed the data of this multisite case study, adding new knowledge to shared leadership in the home. Ten themes were developed to address the five research questions. The external and internal challenges facing house church leaders were identified as (a) Western-base ecclesiology, (b) time constraints, (c) commitment and accountability, and (d) child care. Regarding how house church leaders address these challenges, the participants reported (e) marring the mission of whole-life discipleship by example; this was performed through intentional involvement, with encouragement, and for equipping the saints. The theme about follower perceptions of church leadership was (f) intimate families. The observed leadership characteristics were (g) interspersed and dispersed. The themes describing the alignment of the leadership characteristics with shared leadership were (h) size, (i) voice, and (j) shared purpose.


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