Effective Urban Congregations: A Study of Ministry Factors That Contribute to the Effectiveness of a Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod Urban Congregation

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Practical Theology

First Advisor

Douglas L. Rutt


The urban presence of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod is very challenged as any of the mainline denominations in North America that is predominantly Anglo Saxon in membership makeup. As the white population left and the growing multi-ethnic communities flooded the inner cities, many of the congregation of the LCMS declined in membership and attendance. There are, however, some congregations that have grown in membership and worship attendance.

The hypothesis that this dissertation studied is there is a relationship between the specific three factors (the role of the pastor, the laity and the congregation's attitude towards the community) and the growth or decline of an urban congregation in its mission effectiveness.

Ten growing congregations and ten declining congregations were randomly selected from the top 100 growing and the bottom 100 declining congregations. Membership list of each participating congregations, both growing and declining were obtained and the senior pastor and nine members from each congregation were randomly selected to form the test and control groups; both groups received the survey instrument via mail with a return address.

The primary result of the survey indicates that there is a relationship between the role of the pastor, laity and the members' attitude towards the community around their congregation. Growing congregation members are more engaged in the life of their congregations and the communities around them; they demonstrate an active personal discipleship and disciple making and are generally more positive towards the community around them.

The role of the leadership, who give a public face to a congregation, is vitally important to the mission effectiveness of an urban congregation, especially in a congregation that is surrounded by people groups of numerous ethnic, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. The difference between engaged and disengaged congregations is that growing congregations are incarnated in the communities they serve.


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