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Dissertation Abstract

Vision Conflict Within Pastoral Ministry

J. Louis Spencer
January 2010

This dissertation examines a cross-section of 224 evangelical clergy in order to contribute to the understanding of vision conflict, described as the disparity between clergy's positive anticipation of what ministry will comprise and the actual experience of serving in the ministry. Vision conflict, a dimension associated in previous research with the likelihood of forced and unforced pastoral termination, underwent qualitative and quantitative scale development resulting in 21 items undergoing a principal components analysis that resulted in the formation of a revised Vision Conflict scale with nine items. A review of the literature resulted in the uncovering of independent variables and related validated scales whose descriptions and supportive empirical research indicated that there are similarities with vision conflict: role conflict, role ambiguity, role overload, job satisfaction, career commitment, values congruence, person-ability fit, political skill, and individual environmental determinants. These represent four theoretical areas: role stress, motivation, person-organization fit, and environmental determinism. Nine separate research questions inquired about the relationship between vision conflict and each of the other variables in the study. Correlation analysis resulted in the determination that vision conflict shares a statistically significant relationship with each of the other variables. Strong shared variance, negative or positive, was identified with four of the independent variables-role ambiguity (positively 45%), job satisfaction (negatively 45%), values congruence (negatively 27%), and ability-job fit (negatively 30%). Lesser amounts of shared variance are accounted for each of the other independent variables in the study. As t tests and ANOVAs revealed, age, role, primary income source, previous forced resignation, and plateaued or declining church attendance were the only demographic variables statistically significant with regard to vision conflict. However, all of the main effects were small or medium-small, and no interaction effects were reported as statistically significant. The results of this study suggest that future research include additional scale development until a certainty is reached regarding the items in the Vision Conflict scale. Studies in causation should ultimately investigate further the function of such concurrent phenomena as role ambiguity, job satisfaction, values congruence, and ability-job fit in relation to vision conflict in order to further develop vision conflict theory. Implications of this study on clergy training and preparation for ministry are also discussed.