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Congratulations, Tom!

May 30 2015
May 30 2015


Please join us in congratulating Pastor Tom Gibbs for completing his doctoral work at Covenant Theological Seminary.

Tom has been working on his Doctor of Ministry (DMin) since 2011. His dissertation seeks to educate pastors on how to make a successful transition from a church planter to an established church’s pastor. This valuable work researched how Presbyterian church planters negotiate the leadership challenges that arise subsequent to their churches becoming organized, commonly referred to as the solidification phase.

According to Tom, the degree program at Covenant provided a real-time and collaborative learning environment that could be “applied to the challenges of leading a growing congregation.” More specifically, Tom noted, “I began to realize that the transition from church plant to a mature congregation is a leadership challenge in and of itself.” In fact, the leadership challenges accompanying this transition became the focus for his research and dissertation.

Tom’s research explored how six PCA pastors negotiated the leadership challenges associated with the solidification phase of their congregation. Three types of leadership challenges pastors commonly face were revealed to be: personal criticism, criticism about ministry vision or practice, and debates about decision-making authority. In order to navigate these challenges, Tom made four recommendations: 1) Pastors should recognize the importance of interconnected relationships and the corresponding power dynamics that accompany a church’s organization, 2) Pastors should “make an intentional effort to differentiate themselves from their ministries” so that they do not unduly personalize the challenges that arise. In order to do this, pastors must resist “over-functioning” and “learn to accept losses related” to ministry challenges.  3) Pastors must possess a base-line and then further develop leadership credibility and capabilities, “especially those related to gaining perspective, acting politically and implementing strategic church governance structures.” 4) Pastors and churches must have “strong, unified and supportive session[s]” in order to negotiate the solidification phase.

Redeemer has already benefited greatly from Tom’s work and it is hoped to aid many more churches. We are proud of him for his achievement!

You can read more of Tom’s research here.


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