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Practical Theology

“Who Decides, Who Decides?” The Angst of the Leadership Polity in Churches of Christ

When: June 9, 2022, 1:45 pm - Thursday

Where: Ezell 207

Session 4

Session Abstract

Churches of Christ have a long-standing practice of elder plurality for decision-making and congregational direction. Yet, leadership frustration related to group dynamics coupled with how the minister’s function is a source of congregational frustration. Anecdotal indicators, leadership surveys, and diverse cultural/ethnic perspectives reveal polity angst as one of the top reasons for a minister’s transition resulting in congregations yearning for solidarity, health, and growth. Surfacing the assumptions of biblical, theoretical, cultural, and functional leadership is essential for viable and healthy church life. This Roundtable Session will engage multiple perspectives to surface new understandings and healthier practices.


Grady King, HOPE Network, Convener

  • Carson Reed, Abilene Christian University, “The Vantage: Consulting Conversations and Work with Church Leaders”
  • Suzie Macaluso, Abilene Christian University, “Vantage: Quantitative Research Learnings about Leadership from Church Health Assessment of Thirty Plus Congregations”
  • J. Omar Palafox, Abilene Christian University, “Reflections on Leadership in the ‘Brown Church’”
  • Orpheus Heyward, Renaissance Church of Christ, Atlanta, “Leadership in the Pastor Led ‘Black Church’”
  • Rob McRay, Interim Ministry Partners,

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James Cone with conferee at the CSC in 2017

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Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson delivering the CSC plenary address

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Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), delivering the CSC plenary address.

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US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith delivering the CSC plenary address

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David Brooks engaging conferees during breakfast at the CSC

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