Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Christopher Kowalski


Christian leadership; Leadership;


Prairie Lakes Church (PLC) is a religious institution with a rich history within the Cedar Valley. The church’s origins date back to 1854, only one year after Cedar Falls was incorporated. Throughout the years there have been many changes to the organization, including their name, location, and the population served. Many of the more radical changes have occurred during the last decade. In 2006, Prairie Lakes Church had a single location with roughly twenty staff and a congregation of around 1,000 individuals. Since then, the church’s presence has expanded to five other communities across Iowa. Over sixty people are now employed, and the total number of attendees on any given Sunday is 2,500 to 3,000 people (C. Uhrmacher, personal communication, October 13, 2016). What has made PLC succeed where so many other nonprofit organizations have not? The answer may lie with the leadership styles of the upper management. The purpose of this thesis was to explore the leadership practices used within a successful religious institution. The goal was to compare Prairie Lakes Church’s leadership model to widely held theories in the field of nonprofit management. One piece of the project was research-based, involving an interview process with each of the head pastors of the organization. The second product was creative-based: a short, fictional work demonstrating the leadership style in narrative form. The results will be utilized by Prairie Lakes Church as orientation for new hires and as inspiration for other nonprofit and for-profit organizations.

Year of Submission



School of Kinesiology, Allied Health, and Human Services

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (ii, 24 pages)



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