Spring 2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



John D. Holst

Second Advisor

Stephen D. Brookfield

Third Advisor

Paulette E. Sankofa


This qualitative case study sought to discover if the African Methodist Episcopal Church is intentional in the discipleship formation of its members. My study examined five African Methodist Episcopal Churches in the Midwest and included 60 clergy and non-clergy participants. I conducted one-on-one interviews with the clergy and I held focus groups of seven to ten participants with the non-clergy. Also as part of the study, I observed weekly worship services, adult Sunday school classes, and mid-week Bible studies at each of the five churches. The major findings revealed discipleship formation is not a one-time event, but a journey with four components: 1) the participants understanding and definition of discipleship as journey, 2) discipleship formation journey aids inside the church, 3) discipleship formation journey hindrances inside the church, and 4) discipleship formation journey aids outside the church. I analyzed the findings using four theoretical frameworks: 1) myths, rituals, habits, and the sacred; 2) critical pedagogy; 3) black liberation theology; and 4) transformational leadership. Analysis of the data revealed the foundational Christian education programs within the church are struggling with being relevant to people’s everyday lives. Second, role models play an important part in discipleship formation. Third, because of time constraints, church leaders do not get to focus on their discipleship formation so they can be role models and help others on their journeys.

My findings suggest the following recommendations: first, perform a study of the Christian education programs beginning with Sunday school; second, develop a discipleship formation curriculum for leaders; third, offer exposure to discipleship formation aids outside the local church.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

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