Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)

School

Management

Advisor

Brodie Johnson

Abstract

An economic recession can disproportionately affect the financial stability of churches because their income relies primarily on voluntary contributions. The purpose of this phenomenological study, framed by servant leadership theory, was to explore lived experiences and perceptions related to church leaders' strategies for coping with the economic downturn in 2008. A purposive sample of 20 church leaders from Tennessee was recruited to explore the changes that have been made in church operational strategies in order to cope with the recession. The interview data were iteratively examined by using keywords, phrases, and concepts and were coded into categories, which led to the identification of the following themes: (a) implementing cost reduction efforts and increasing the reliance on volunteers for facility upkeep, (b) collaborating with other church leaders for assistance referrals and fraud detection, and (c) sharing facilities and dividing expenses. The study results contribute to positive social change by providing strategies that church leaders can implement to mitigate the negative effects of a financial downturn, strengthen their financial position and stability, and enable them to provide necessary community support. Financial stability in neighborhood churches is conducive to a stronger community because churches serve as focal points for volunteerism and assistance delivery.