Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Philip Carnes

Second Advisor

Leonard Sweet

Third Advisor

Frank Green


This project applies Bowen Family Systems Theory, the theology of Martin Buber, and authentic leadership theory to
the problem of retaining G2 leaders in an intergenerational church. Intergenerational churches function like
intergenerational families, therefore healthy relationships between G1 and G2 adults in them should mirror those of
parents with their adult children. When intergenerational churches do not function like this, G2 leaders are likely to feel disempowered and leave to plant their own churches.

Chapter one offers a biblical basis for the claim that intergenerational churches function like intergenerational families.In 1 Timothy 3:15, Paul referred to the church as the “household of God.” With this metaphor, Paul portrayed the church as a surrogate kinship group, with God as the paterfamilias and believers as brothers and sisters.

Chapter two applies Bowen Family Systems Theory to the intergenerational church. Bowen Theory suggests that there
are strong emotional currents that underlie surface conflicts between generations in intergenerational churches. By
learning to balance differentiation from and solidarity with one another, G1 and G2 adults can begin to exercise
reciprocal relationships and better navigate organizational anxiety.

Chapter three explores Martin Buber’s theology of reciprocity. Buber argued that there is a difference between
experiencing a person in an I-It relationship and encountering him or her in an I-Thou relationship. In an I-Thou
relationship, a person surrenders himself or herself to be acted upon in a reciprocal relationship. Buber considered
these relationships the only way to encounter God.

Finally, chapter four introduces authentic leadership as a way forward for intergenerational churches. The unique power
struggles in intergenerational churches make conventional forms of leadership less effective.

Included in

Christianity Commons