Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Sharon H. Callahan

Second Advisor

David C. Hahn

Third Advisor

Terri M. Elton


This qualitative research engaged clergy and lay leaders from the Northwest Washington Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to determine the posture and imagination necessary for leaders navigating the uncharted future of the Lutheran church in the Northwest. To face the unknown adaptive challenges associated with this volatile and complex future, this study attempted to identify how clergy and lay leaders should be postured and what imagination they should possess to minister in the next five years.

This study was rooted in grounded theory and utilized a Delphi method to achieve consensus regarding approaches to leadership. The first of two iterative surveys asked clergy and lay leaders about the posture and imagination needed to lead the Lutheran church in the Northwest in the next five years. A second survey asked the same participants to rate the importance of the coded responses from the first survey, the second survey achieving consensus on each of the thirty named postures and imagination.

The theological frameworks of posture, imagination, transformation, and vocation, as well as the emerging future illustrated in C. Otto Scharmer’s Theory U, guided the purpose of this study, with research findings addressed through these theological lenses. The result is a list of nine concluding recommendations for clergy and lay leaders of the Lutheran church in Northwest Washington, for their consideration over the next five years.