Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Ken Ross, DMin

Second Advisor

David McDonald, DMin


Pastors search for ways to help their communities of faith live into their ministry with more impact, creativity and joy. Many are frustrated by the root bound nature of most congregations tightly organized in a hierarchy that limits the ability to be nimble and contextual. At the same time, culture is becoming more participatory, collaborative and creative. Thriving organizations have tapped into this culture by designing their structure to foster innovation. This work offers an examination of such organizations, their leaders and the tools they use.

Chapter One discusses the cultural shifts of connectedness and participation. These shifts have happened at a time of significant decline for the church. The way local congregations are organized has limited their ability to capture the opportunity for growth inherent in this new culture. Chapter Two examines aspects of Lutheran theology that help understand how and why congregations should redesign their organization to thrive in this culture of participation and connection. Chapter Three takes a deeper look at the cultural shift towards participation. A social learning theory called “Communities of Practice” will frame the proposal found later in this work. Chapter Four examines innovation, creativity and organizational design. Chapter Five offers a study of innovative organizations and leaders. Their habits, mindsets and practices are transferrable to the context of congregational organization and leadership. Chapter Six proposes tools that congregations can use to become responsive to this new culture of participation; creating environments that promote connection, innovation and collaboration. The metaphor of congregation as a constellation of Communities of Practice will be expanded upon as an answer to the problem.

Included in

Christianity Commons