A Model of Leadership in Ministry

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(L-R) Dr. Jim Lemons, Dr. Bryan Price, Dr. Michael Whiting, Dr. Jack Goodyear

When it came time to choose his dissertation research in DBU's doctoral program, Dr. Bryan Price considered the challenges of his own pastoral context, a congregation that is predominantly African American in a community that is racially diverse, though still largely white.

"Our church has direct engagement with people who are under-represented and underserved, and members of my church and community are affected daily by racism and its awful residue," he says.

This led him to look to the great black preachers of the past during the height of the Civil Rights era, many of whom remain less known and understudied.

"Despite the remarkable contributions of African Americans to the disciplines of homiletics and leadership, attention given to prominent preachers and leaders who have emerged from the Black Church is miniscule."

This inspired him to pursue a study of the model leadership example and powerful preaching influence of the late Civil Rights activist and pastor of Concord Baptist Church of Christ, Gardner C. Taylor (1918-2015).

"My aim was to prove that Gardner Calvin Taylor's preaching was a basis for leadership that inspired commitment to social change during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in America."

Several critical findings emerged from Dr. Price's research on Taylor's leadership. "First, Taylor was a principal leader during the struggle for civil rights through active civil and political involvement, denominational leadership, his ability to stir people to action, and the influential relationships he held with other leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr."

Another finding that surfaced was the way in which Taylor's leadership was reflected through his ministry of preaching, which demonstrated several key competencies related to contemporary leadership theory, including transformational, principle-centered, servant-oriented, and love-inspired leadership.

Taylor's sound exposition of Scripture and artful rhetorical ability was also instrumental in vision casting, inspiring and empowering others to action, fostering unity, and leading change, especially in affecting racial equality and economic development for the African American community.

"Taylor's pulpit leadership bares considerable relevance in my own ministry," says Dr. Price. "The political and socioeconomic concerns in my context cause me to focus on the same themes and points of emphasis found in Taylor's preaching. Studying Taylor has reinforced the need to approach the Gospel holistically, taking seriously the notion of seeing God's will done on earth as it is in heaven, and I am challenged by Taylor's story to preach in a manner that inspires people to embrace the hope found only in Christ while compelling them to press forward amid social difficulties to affect tangible change in their communities."

Dr. Bryan Price currently serves as pastor of Love Fellowship Baptist Church in Romeoville, Illinois, a church he helped plant following his ordination to the ministry in 1999. Before coming to DBU and finishing his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies this past August, Dr. Price also completed a bachelor's in business management from Benedictine University and a master's in theological studies from Wheaton College in Illinois.

Written by Dr. Michael Whiting

Dr. Michael Whiting is Assistant Professor of Christian History and Leadership at Dallas Baptist University.

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