Campus Location

Dallas Campus (Online)

Date of Award


Document Type



Organizational Leadership

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Committee Chair or Primary Advisor

Jim Adams

Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor

Heather Rasmussen

Third Committee Member or Committee Reader

Mary Christopher


A challenge in cross-cultural church planting is developing leaders. Cross-cultural church-planting organizations like Latin American Mission (LAM; pseudonym) that lack a leadership development strategy struggle to form lasting leaders, sending missionaries with Biblical training but not leader development training. Additionally, developing leaders in a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) environment creates specific challenges that missionaries must address. The purpose of this qualitative, Delphi method study was to investigate the leadership development perceptions and experiences among existing LAM missionaries in the regions of Latin America (Colombia, Cuba, Mexico City, Peru, Brazil, and Ecuador) to provide suggestions for improving effective leadership development within a VUCA environment. Understanding the LAM missionaries’ perceptions and experiences provided insight into best practices and strategies for developing leaders. Thus, the problem was that LAM needed to further understand the realities of their missionaries to better equip them to effectively train new church leaders for a VUCA environment. Concepts of positive leadership, vertical leadership development, cross-cultural leadership, followership, and coaching influenced this investigation. This qualitative Delphi method study proved effective in gathering collective wisdom, using consensus data from a panel of experts within a context. Using a three-round modified Delphi method, a panel of 17 participants who lived and worked as missionaries in a Latin American context with the LAM church-planting organization provided wisdom for best practices in leadership development within a VUCA context. Five themes emerged from the panel’s experience that endorsed many tenets of the conceptual framework, specifically within positive leadership, vertical leadership development, and coaching. The panel confirmed that a VUCA environment affected their experience in developing leaders. Other themes included influences vi on leader development like positive organizational climates, both the developer’s and new leader’s mindset, trusting relationships between developers and new leaders, and positive feedback. The conclusions were that missionaries desiring to develop new leaders in a VUCA world could use the key tenets of positive leadership and vertical leadership development; also, coaching was an effective development tool for a VUCA context.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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