Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)





First Advisor

Peter VanKatwyk

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


This thesis looks at the complex nature of the relationship between the pastor of a congregation and the members of the parish. The relationship is first viewed from a number of different perspectives: self psychology, systems theory and object relations. Each perspective adds new insight to the nature of this many-sided relationship. These perspectives, however, look primarily at a static view of the relationship. A qualitative research study was conducted to investigate the following research question: D0 pastors and congregational members experience the pastor-parish relationship as developing over time? Fourteen pastors and nine parishioners were asked to comment on their own experience of the development of the pastor-parish relationship. The data indicated that the relationship does indeed change over time. The study argues that the developmental models of other intimate relationships provide useful paradigms for understanding people's experience of the development of the pastor-parish relationship. The concept of differentiation was important in the development of other intimate relationships and that the degree of differentiation between the cleric and the congregation may influence the course of the development of the pastor-parish relationship.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Included in

Christianity Commons