Date of Award

Fall 2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)




Congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have struggled over the last generation to reach out effectively to new members. This struggle is the byproduct of a changing ministry context leaders are trying to address. By the 1980s, those elements that had fueled the growth of the Lutheran Church the United States throughout the previous century had largely faded. An awareness of these changes and the corresponding decline in membership and contributions has prompted leaders to examine how to reach out more effectively to those outside traditional ethnic and cultural Lutheran enclaves. In order to improve their congregation’s effectiveness, governing board members have traveled down various paths, with limited success. Some have sought greater effectiveness through a better use of secular business practices. Others have looked to turn around their congregation through church transformation. It is the aim of this work to demonstrate that governing board's best approach is to combine clarity about its own purpose and practices with an intentional spiritual formation process. Section One outlines the problem of governing board ineffectiveness. Section Two explores the various solutions proposed, and asserts that while helpful, these solutions are at best only incomplete. Section Three demonstrates the benefit of combining governing board clarity of purpose and practices with intentional spiritual formation, drawing on the examples of congregations both in this country and in Africa. Sections Four and Five describe an artifact leaders can use to better understand this connection between Board function and spiritual formation.

Included in

Christianity Commons