Exploring a Contextualized Leadership Development Model Built on Spiritual Formation for Emerging Christian Leaders in Urban Cambodia


Gil S. Suh

Publication Date



This dissertation explores the processes of leadership development in Cambodia among emerging Christian leaders in urban settings. Field research was done to identify the characteristics of these young leaders and the critical factors that influence their leadership formation. The purpose of this ethnographic study is to explore how to develop a contextualized model for the formation of emerging leaders in Cambodia.

Although Cambodian culture has been deeply shaped by animistic Buddhism and its recent tragic history, the current context of Cambodian society is rapidly changing and becoming increasingly complex with impacts of globalization and urbanization. All these traditional and contemporary cultural forces significantly contribute to the shaping and formation of emerging Cambodian leaders. And these contextual factors must be taken seriously for any leadership development effort for Cambodian leaders.

Emerging Cambodian leaders are well aware of the external challenges facing their society and church and deeply desire to lead a unified engagement of Christians. But these young leaders are mostly new and inexperienced in their leadership positions, and they are under a lot of pressure as leaders without many supporting systems. They are vulnerable to temptations and threats that could lead to burnout and dropout of ministry engagement. They need to secure their connection to God and to each other in order to develop spiritual leadership for missional engagement according to their divine calling.

The research demonstrates the compelling need for a contextualized leadership development model for emerging Cambodian leaders who are in need of supporting systems with spiritual formation component for their ongoing leadership development. It includes a change strategy with the results of pilot projects that confirm the need and the effectiveness of such a model.

Mentor: Elizabeth L. Glanville, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Glanville, Elizabeth L.

Document Type



City churches; Cambodia; City clergy; Christian leadership; Reformed Church; Spiritual formation


Missions and World Christianity


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