Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Rooted in the stuff of story

Written by: on May 10, 2019

I am sure I echo the sentiment of many of my cohort-mates who desire to bring change in their contexts, that this was a refreshing look at a complicated matter. Diane Zemke uses her expertise in leadership studies, combined with a clear passion for the church, to provide an informed, insightful look at congregational change.

For the past few weeks (and for many weeks to come), I have been researching pentecostal/charismatic spirituality and its effect on the female ministry leader. Of special interest have been the aspects of narrative and community in the spiritual and leadership development of female leaders. Zemke’s work has offered increased perspective on my findings.

According to Zemke, “as stories are told in a congregation, new people evaluate how they fit or don’t fit into the larger narrative.”[1] In my field research, the aspect of faith nurtured through the collective narrative surfaced often. Each of the leaders I interviewed (all from the pentecostal tradition) described their own experiences in terms of how they related to others. In fact, much of their description of formative experiences had to do with the response of the community: whether they were received positively or negatively. This aligns with Zemke’s understanding of the role of narrative in congregational culture.

I appreciated Zemke’s discussion on the realities for women in congregational life in her section on Wisdom for Women.[2] She provides relevant, real-life examples of the challenges of being a female change agent within the congregation. This was especially helpful in light of the previous section on tempered radicals:

Tempered radicals also tend to be deeply oriented toward ministry arising out of calling and gifting rather than requirements of position, education, and gender. They truly understand that the fields are ready to harvest and the workers are few.”[3]

In my research, I am discovering that many current female ministry leaders could be classified as tempered radicals. Like Zemke says, they are “drawn to the relational life embodied by congregations,” and they desire to see the gifts and callings of congregational members be affirmed, regardless of demographic concerns. The unique value placed on narrative within pentecostal spirituality offers these tempered radicals a path forward to cultural change. Perhaps Zemke has something special to offer female change agents in pentecostal congregations, especially as they work to remove barriers that prevent their ministry…writing new stories and changing the narrative.

This was a fast, practical read that I am sure I will be referencing again in the future.


[1] Diane Zemke, Being SMART about Congregational Change, (Create Space Independent Publishing 2014), Kindle.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

About the Author

Rhonda Davis

Rhonda is passionate about loving her Creator, her wonderful husband, and her three amazing sons. She serves as VP of Enrollment Management & Student Development at The King's University in Southlake, TX.

11 responses to “Rooted in the stuff of story”

  1. Harry Fritzenschaft says:

    Very insightful connection of Zemke’s work with your research. I especially liked how you connected tempered radicals with women ministry leaders moving forward. As a Third Wave Charismatic coming from a Pentecostal background, I look forward to reading and applying the findings of your research.

  2. Tammy Dunahoo says:

    Thanks, Rhonda. Your research description is certainly my story. I appreciate Zemke’s term, tempered radical, and in fact, took it on for my personal description. The power of story is understood in many cultures and I think your research is going to help us uncover the value in the American church as well.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks, Tammy. Yes, I have certainly identified with the “tempered radical” description. The importance of story in pentecostal spirituality has been fascinating research thus far.

  3. John Muhanji says:

    Thank you, Rhonda, for connecting your research with Zemke’s reading. You have weaved in very well and Zemke seems to be answering some of your concerns in your research. I like the way you put it as “the power of the story is understood in many cultures…” It is very true Rhonda, and I strongly agree with you on this.

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks, John. I am interested to hear more about the role story plays in your corner of the world. Does narrative have high value?

  4. Karen Rouggly says:

    Great reflection, Rhonda, and very good sum of the book. I appreciated the ways you brought in your research, and it seems as though we resonated with similar parts! Thanks for letting us peek into your research and I hope we hear more soon!

    • Rhonda Davis says:

      Thanks, Karen. This was a practical read, which made it easy to find myself in the writing. It seems we both found ourselves identifying with Zemke’s “tempered radicals.”

  5. Rev Jacob Bolton says:

    Great post Rhonda. Honored to wear the LGP mantle with so many amazing tempered radicals!

  6. Jenn Burnett says:

    I share your observation that female leaders and pastors are often tempered radical driven by calling. I wonder if the church doesn’t take advantage of this? Knowing we will do the work anyway, the work often doesn’t be come a job. Or the pay is less, or simply an honorarium…because we are so driven to do it anyway. Does this extend to titles and recognition? We don’t push for these things but do the work anyway while our male colleagues are honoured with traditional recognition and reward? Thanks for your research Rhonda! Looking forward to learning more about it.

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