William Scott Wallace, Ph.D. is a 2008 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Dissertation Committee

  • Carolyn Kenny, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Philomena Essed, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Joel Green, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Donald Polkinghorne, Ph.D., External Reader


church, phenomenology, portraiture, conversion, transformation, sanctification, spirituality, United Methodist, case study, pastoral leadership, clergy, congregation, discipleship, Christianity, spiritual growth

Document Type


Publication Date



The majority of mainline denomination churches in America have experienced decline in membership, worship attendance, and vitality for over fifty years. As well, church members’ lifestyles, commitments, and habits tend to be not all that unlike Americans who do not attend church. Many church members live relatively nominal Christian lives when compared to the nature of the Christian life and discipleship described by Jesus in the gospels of the New Testament. This nominal understanding and adoption of the Christian life makes church membership and involvement unnecessary or secondary to the many other demands in modern life. Denominational officials, church pastors, and lay members of churches, in response to the decline in church membership and involvement, have attempted several fixes that have not reversed the overall trend. Similarly, efforts to increase the commitment level of parishioners to live more closely the life Jesus described for his followers have been inconsistent and results have been sporadic. The purpose of this study was to explore the radical nature of the life of Christian discipleship, the phenomena of conversion and transformation in adopting and developing this life, and one church’s approach in leading persons to this life. I studied a United Methodist Church through a one-week visit in which I interviewed pastors, lay leaders, and a variety of church members. I attended worship services, meetings, and other events to gain an appreciation of the culture of the church in relationship to the nature of radical discipleship. Using a style of research and narrative writing called portraiture, I describe the church and several persons’ faith experiences. This narrative gives the reader a thoughtful interpretation of the church and what I have discovered, in my interpretation, are the key elements to the church’s ability to form radical disciples The electronic version of this dissertation is accessible at the OhioLINK ETD Center,