The study is about power struggles that occur within the leadership structures of Pentecostal congregations. These power struggles can be between the pastor and the governing body of the congregation/ church council/ elders or deacon board/ church board, depending on the terminology used to describe those leaders who are designated to work with the pastor in leadership. Most research done on congregational power struggles or conflict, centre around personalities. What if the cause of the power struggle is not just personal but also structural? Therefore the main problem question is: what is it exactly, that causes power struggles in the church's hierarchy.
The purpose of the study is to investigate the church polity of various Pentecostal church hierarchies, in order to assess how that polity informs their use of power, especially during times of power struggles. This study was conducted in the Buffalo City Municipality of the Eastern Cape in South Africa. The methodology of the study was based on a qualitative approach, using grounded theory, and chose a triangulation of interviews and document reviews as its data collection method.
The interviewees were purposively chosen from three major Pentecostal groupings viz. Classical Pentecostals, Charismatic Pentecostals and African initiated Pentecostals. Out of these groupings seven churches were selected and in total twenty participants were interviewed. The findings revealed that power struggles are caused by:
1. a hybrid nature of Pentecostal church polity;
2. a lack of following the polity;
3. a lack of money;
4. a lack of formal and informal education;
5. a lack of character maturity;
6. a lack of management and leadership skills.
The recommendations are: an in depth knowledge of church polities; self-empowerment through formal and informal educational studies; financial independence; enrolment in management and leadership programs; finding mentorship for holistic maturity. A healing model was also proposed, using the narrative approach of story sharing. The African perspective of a gerontocracy that is empowered by the community to arbitrate over disputes and seal them with covenant meals; that have litigations of curses for non-compliance and blessings for compliance, must be revisited and contextualized within biblical standards and values.
Dissertation (MA (Theology))--University of Pretoria, 2017.