Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Sarita Edwards, PhD

Second Advisor

Clifford Berger, DMin


This dissertation is an attempt to understand New Zealand Christian leadership in a time of divisive identity politics. Using epistemological mapping, the first part of the research begins by considering the effect postmodernism had on the self-understanding of both western society and the wider church. It then considers the impact of neo-economics on traditional political divisions and the shift towards empowering minority social groups. As these changes unfolded, the New Zealand church experienced a dramatic decline, creating significant challenges for its leadership. Through interviews and reflection on leadership writing over the last fifty years, the research maps the change in leadership epistemology such that it has altered ethics, values and theology to justify pragmatism as a primary mechanism for successful ministry. Notwithstanding a quiet call for proper reflection on the nature of leadership in uncertain times, the power of ever-changing secular business models still holds sway in 2020. In most cases, the church has become yet another identity political group concerned with its shrinking place in society. Consequently, part two of the research maps an alternative epistemology of leadership able to engage with a diverse and divisive world without shrinking from it or being defined by it. By connecting René Girard’s theory of mimetic desire with Michael Gorman’s Cruciform theosis and kenosis, a map to understanding why people follow leaders can be more helpfully understood as imitation, while at the same time, challenging leaders to question whom they are imitating and to what end? As Jesus imitates the Father to become like the Father, Christian leaders imitate Jesus’ imitation. Thus, the Apostle Paul could say, “imitate me.” The goal? To rediscover our likeness to God.

Included in

Christianity Commons