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Alphacrucis College
Sydney, Australia


Stephen is an ordained minister in the Australian Christian Churches, and has been on staff at Alphacrucis College since 1994. Alphacrucis College is Australia’s largest Christian college, with campuses in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart and Auckland, with partner campuses across Australia, New Zealand, Finland Philippines, Columbia and UK. Over the years, Stephen has worked as an economist, pastor, church planter, college lecturer and is now the President of Alphacrucis College. He and his wife, Sandra, have planted and pastored several churches.

Stephen chairs the Asia Pacific Theological Association, Alphacrucis College New Zealand, and is a board member of Asia Pacific Theological Seminary and the World Alliance for Pentecostal Theological Education. In 2013, Stephen completed his PhD in organizational leadership, researching transformational leadership, particularly the relationship between senior pastors’ leadership and volunteers’ motivation. As a well regarded speaker around the world, Stephen is sought after for his profound theological insights and practical application.


Pentecostal Church Leadership: A Comparative Study of Australian and Norwegian Pastors

I investigate the nature of leadership as a social and relational influence process within large Australian Pentecostal churches. I interview senior leaders and craft a grounded theory of Australian large church leadership processes. In doing so, I respond to Truls Åkerlund’s general structure of Pentecostal leadership and compare and contrast my findings with Åkerlund’s formative work on Norwegian Pentecostal Pastors.

In conducting my own study, I identify the following themes: (1) Divine Calling; (2) Divine Equipping; (3) Vision Casting; (4) Serving and Transforming; (5) Commitment to the Gospel; and (6) Equipping Others to be Leaders. I note several seminal consistencies between my study and Åkerlund’s. For instance, the notion of Divine Calling is reflective of Akerlund’s features of Divine Purpose and Derived Leadership. In addition, the notion of Equipping reflects elements of
Akerlund’s features of Human Agency and Pragmatic Stance. However, I also emphasise critical points of divergence. I note that Australian Pentecostal Pastors envision equipping as something that involves both the spiritual capacity to lead and the provision of earthly resources. Further, the participants all emphasised the importance of raising up other leaders within their church structure.

Consequently, I suggest that church leadership practice and training should fundamentally prioritise the pastor’s recognition and conceptualisation of their own calling to ministry. Additionally, I recommend that pastors should be trained in both the effective stewardship of earthly resources and the raising of additional church leaders to ensure sustainable church leadership for future generations.