Original Research - Special Collection: Missiology and Religion Studies and Spirituality

Complex leadership as a way forward for transformational missional leadership in a denominational structure

C.J.P. (Nelus) Niemandt
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 71, No 3 | a2951 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v71i3.2951 | © 2015 C.J.P. (Nelus) Niemandt | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 March 2015 | Published: 25 August 2015

About the author(s)

C.J.P. (Nelus) Niemandt, Department of Science of Religion and Missiology, Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


The research investigates the role of leadership in the transformation of denominational structures towards a missional ecclesiology, and focusses on the Highveld Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church. It describes the missional journey of the denomination, and interprets the transformation. The theory of ‘complex leadership’ in complex systems is applied to the investigation of the impact of leadership on a denominational structure. The theory identifies three mechanisms used by leaders as enablers in emergent, self-organisation systems: (1) Leaders disrupt existing patterns, (2) they encourage novelty, and (3) they act as sensemakers. These insights are applied as a tool to interpret the missional transformation of a denomination.


Missional church; missional ecclesiology; transformational leadership; complex leadership; leadership studies; disruption; innovation; sensmaking


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doi: 10.4102/hts.v72i1.3145