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This project offers resources for missional renewal for congregations in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) by re-presenting historic Lutheran practices in the light of an evangelizing pastoral imagination for a postmodern American context. The discussion is divided into three main sections. The first part explores the ministry challenge in terms of the ministry and work of a recent mission plant by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: Risen Lord Lutheran Church in Bargersville, Indiana. Launched in 1996 by the Division for Outreach of the ELCA, the church found the training and resourcing from the headquarters of the denomination to be ineffective. This section details the hard lessons learned and the surprising resources that came into play that made the mission start a thriving congregation. These resources were long-held historic practices of the Lutheran Church that had fallen into disuse in mission-minded ELCA circles but came alive in a postmodern setting, when employed with pastoral imagination.

The second section lays out the theological framework for a proposal to push further the missional possibilities of historic Lutheran practices. As evangelizing congregations live from their deepest sense of purpose and identity, drawing from their theological and biblical traditions, the pastoral imagination can make great leaps as missional impulses seek outlet in the postmodern community. The result is a renewed sense of confidence, excitement, and new ways of living out the call to evangelize. As evangelizing congregations like Risen Lord re-appropriate their traditions, new life emerges.

The third section deals with strategy. It suggests specific goals for an evangelizing congregation, as it seeks to bring forward from the past what is most central to the church’s identity and useful for mission. As evangelizing congregations explore avenues for living out these practices and the theological spirit that powers them, missional vitality follows suit.

Content Reader: Kurt K. Hendel, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Hendel, Kurt K.

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Risen Lord Lutheran Church (Bargersville, Ind.); Evangelical Lutheran Church in North America; Missional church movement; Postmodernism; Evangelistic work; Church renewal


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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