Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)



First Advisor

Diane Zemke, PhD

Second Advisor

Darcy Hansen, DMin


This dissertation began by seeking to understand why people leave church, particularly baby boomers that no longer attend church. Section One introduces the changing perceptions and dynamics of religious identification and church attendance practices. The question I ask and endeavor to respond to is how the church might live a resilient faith in the liminal space between a church-centric faith and faith apart from church affiliation. Section Two considers three responses to church leaving and perceptions of faith. The first considers the shift taking place in faith development when authority moves from the church to the individual. The second is the middle ground where cultivation, innovation, and exploration are taking place in denominations and new expressions of faith. The final area is the effort to re-establish the centrality of the Christian faith and the church in American life. Section Three offers my thesis drawing upon lessons of faith development, resilience, and resilience theory. I propose four compass points to orient the church and church leavers. These compass points: pilgrimage, waiting, re-enchanting Scripture, and Sabbath respond to the questions before us: Is God with us? How do we wait for the God who is God? How do we return to Scripture to know God? Where now is our authority? Section Four is a description of my artifact. Drawing upon characteristics of resilience I offer an integrated path for churches and individuals amid this great emergence. Patterned after the four seasons of the year spiritual formation practices are designed to cultivate and foster a resilient faith amid this liminal religious space. Section Five is the Artifact Specification providing an overview and explanation how the Artifact will be implemented and utilized. Section Six offers a summary, analysis, and conclusion of the dissertation.

Included in

Christianity Commons