Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Dorothy Ettling


Jessica C. Kimmel


Roger C. Barnes


A. Paul Vasconcellos


Some Christian churches approach the majority of their faith expression with a 'go to the community' dynamic, while other churches focus primarily on attracting the community to 'come to them.' The problem is that there is a growing population of religiously unaffiliated people in the United States for whom traditional forms of faith expression are not meaningful. A new way of thinking about communal faith expression is needed if the church seeks to reach people who are spiritually curious but not interested in the attractional church model. The journey towards organizational change, even for churches, often begins with a commitment to ongoing personal transformation. This study demonstrates how discipleship can serve as a catalyst for personal transformation in the Christian faith. The purpose of this study was to explore the perceptions of the leaders of Mission City in regard to how they foster personal transformation in the participants of the Faith in Action (FIA) program. In-depth interviews and collecting documents were the two primary research strategies for this qualitative case study. Faith in Action leaders foster personal transformation in the program`s participants in a dynamic fashion through a process that is built on spiritual formation and connected to a learning process that results in organic growth patterns. The FIA process involves a personal transformation journey rooted in spiritual formation that connects participants with God so that God can bring the transformation that leads to missional living. God`s presence coupled with transformed perspectives enables participants to become catalysts who mobilize other Christians to become the functioning body of Christ in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces, and third spaces to serve the poor, the marginalized, and those in need. This study indicates that fostering transformational discipleship will require church leaders to engage in a comprehensive overhaul of their current discipleship practices. This process will also require them to challenge their teaching and leadership assumptions, inventory their worldview, examine their leadership approaches, and create systems and structures that enable collaborative leadership.