Leadership in Churches of Christ in Argentina: Expectations of National Christians for the Use of Power by Church Leaders
Date of Award
From the earliest arrival of Spaniards in Argentina, strong authoritarian leaders have provided the predominant model for leadership in all arenas. This project/thesis sets out to discover the effects of this history upon the expectations of Argentine Christians for leaders and leadership styles in the churches of Christ, investigating three key questions: Do Argentine Christians prefer authoritative or participa- tive systems of organization in the church? What system of organization is actually employed in the churches of Christ? Is change required?
In order to answer these questions, the study was initiated with an overview of the history of Argentina and current social traits. Congregations of churches of Christ with national leadership were contacted and five congregations consented to participate in the study. A questionnaire was then designed, following a Likert scale construct, to measure attitudes concerning the system of organization Argentines consider "ideal" as compared to their assessment of the "actual" systems of organization found in the churches. An intervention event, in the form of a workshop and a series of supplemental written lessons, was formulated to present a biblical view of leadership in the context of the Christian community. After the administration of the questionnaire and the intervention event, a post-test was completed by participants in order to measure change in attitudes.
Data gathered from the churches under study reveals that, in general, Argentines prefer a more authoritative system of organization than the system actually in operation in their congregations. However, this attitude was found to correlate positively with education, so that, at higher levels of education, there exists a comparatively greater preference for a participative system of organization. It was also found that the few North American missionaries surveyed believe the "actual" organization system to be more authoritative than do their Argentine brethren. The post-test demonstrates general shifts in atti- tudes toward a more participative system of organization.
The majority of the Argentine Christians surveyed manifest an undercurrent of authoritarian views with regard to their leaders. The intervention event designed to prompt an evaluation of these attitudes in the light of Scripture may have also infringed on culturally accepted forms for leadership in terms of goal setting and decision making. This raises the question of how missionaries can equip Argentine leaders to utilize power and authority appropriately without destroying the authoritative structures dictated by the culture. Evangelism within neighborhoods is proposed as an approach which avoids many of the cross- cultural problems created by establishing congregations composed of individuals from different sectors of the society.
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Richardson, William Alan, "Leadership in Churches of Christ in Argentina: Expectations of National Christians for the Use of Power by Church Leaders" (1991). Doctor of Ministry Theses. 28.
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We are grateful for the work of Hannah Wood, MA, DAS, for pursuing, scanning, and providing us with Dr. William Alan Richardson's dissertation.
Hannah works at the Ann Cowan Dixon Archives and Special Collections, at Harding University's Brackett Library