Date of Award


Document Type

Project Portfolio

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Karen Claassen, DMin

Second Advisor

Leonard Wilson, DMin


The unfortunate story for many modern independent local churches is decline, disconnect, and irrelevance. This was only exacerbated by the 2020 global pandemic. Despite well- intentioned staff and many “church growth” tools, the independent local church saw many pastors and members leave and institutions close. The good news, however, is the church was never intended to be a cookie-cutter home, a franchise, or a satellite location. It was designed to be a contextualized incarnation of the unique Gospel expression of a local community by and for the people. More than ever, the church needs its laypeople to see themselves as a community of pastors. The churches that experienced this, especially in the position of elder, have thrived despite recent difficult circumstances. The church has an incredible opportunity to leverage its relationships to equip and train its laypeople and find success and satisfaction in their local community.

The chief ambition of the research journey evolved to explore the following thesis: in the post- pandemic era of the church, which experienced a mass pastoral exodus, churches have an opportunity to provide exceptional coaching/equipping programs for laypeople to lead the church faithfully and innovatively into a bright future.

The research was initiated during my time as Family Ministry Pastor at Mountainview Christian Church in Gresham, OR. Mountainview is an independent, mid-sized Christian Church from the Stone-Campbell Movement.

The outcome of this doctoral project is a relational learning experience called the Eldership Cohort Program, complete with a facilitator manual and participant workbook. The curriculum is designed to provide the local church with relevant and customizable content to equip, educate, and train their elders in semiotics, doctrine, protection, and leadership.

Included in

Christianity Commons