Although typically not responsible for leadership decision-making that impacts the spiritual growth of the entire organization, youth ministers play a vital leadership role in congregational health as leaders of smaller communities within greater communities of faith. This leadership role is threatened by numerous challenges facing youth ministers of all denominations. Specific to this study, the vital role of youth ministry in Churches of Christ is threatened by high turnover rates of those within the profession. The purpose of this study was to determine leadership practices and strategies that are employed by long tenured youth ministers in Churches of Christ, identify the challenges those youth ministers have faced in implementing leadership practices, discover how they measure successful youth ministry leadership strategies and practices and ascertain their recommendations for implementing leadership strategies and practices within their profession. Data were collected from 15 full time youth ministers in Churches of Christ from throughout the United States. The qualitative, phenomenological study utilized a 12-question semi-structured interview format to gather the lived experience of subjects. Key study findings identified 70 themes that answered four research questions. Specifically, self-awareness was the top trait study participants used to describe themselves as leaders. Additionally, participants identified creating an others-focused environment as the top strategy or practice as a contributor to long tenure at the same church. The findings of this study have substantive implications for men and women considering youth ministry as a career or calling, and for institutions of learning that train those preparing for the youth ministry profession.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Churches of Christ -- Clergy; Churck work with youth; Leadership -- Case studies

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Madjidi, Farzin;