Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Gary Simpson

Second Advisor

Diane Jacobson

Third Advisor

Christian Scharen


This research project is a grounded theory, ethnographic study of emerging ministries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Twenty emerging ministries were selected from within the ELCA. Six of those sites were the subjects of indepth site visits by a research team. Eleven additional sites were the subjects of partial site visits and interviews. The data-gathering phase of the research concluded with a consultation with thirty emerging leaders held at Luther Seminary. Four sensitizing concepts were used as lenses in data gathering: Lutheran, emerging, missional, and doxological hermeneutics. Leadership in emerging ministries and emerging ministries as contextual and indigenous developed as themes in the research. The sociological concept of transculturation as deculturation and neoculturation emerged in support of a grounded theory that transculturation provides a way forward for the ELCA to glorify God through diversity among and within its congregations and ministries. The research question, “How is God glorified in emerging ministries in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and in the lives of their people?” developed from the perspective of a doxological hermeneutic of mission. Mission shapes and is shaped by the praying and believing of the church: lex orandi, lex credendi, lex movendi. A doxological hermeneutic of mission is Spirit led, perichoretically discerned, publicly realized, theoretically informed, and biblically/theologically/confessionally framed—soli Deo gloria! And finally, doxology is perichoretic play.