Decline and conflict: Causes and consequences of leadership transitions in religious congregations

Erica J. Dollhopf, Christopher P. Scheitle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Changes in leadership can be difficult for any organization. Leadership transitions in religious congregations might be especially challenging given the personal relationships involved and the spiritual dimension of a leader's position. This complexity often makes it difficult to separate the reasons for the transition from the impacts of the transition. For example, loss of membership and congregational conflict can be both a cause and a consequence of leadership change. Using the 2006-2007 National Congregations Study, this research explores how membership decline and congregational conflict are associated with leadership transitions in religious congregations. Although we find that leadership transitions are associated with conflict and membership decline, we also find that certain factors, such as whether the leader comes from within the congregation and context of the transition, moderate these associations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)675-697
Number of pages23
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'Decline and conflict: Causes and consequences of leadership transitions in religious congregations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this