Ecosystem Theory and Boundary Leadership as applied to the Church: Developing a Method and Analytic Framework to Restore the Place of Churches in their Local Communities. Open Access

Mowry, Keck (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL:


It is the contention of this study that many churches in North America are existentially threatened due to their loss of a viable role within the changing social and economic ecosystems of their communities. Isolated from the life-giving and restorative resources of the community's ecosystems, congregations become increasingly disconnected from the people and institutions which sustain them. Analysis of this isolation from the perspective of ecosystem theory, combined with the connectional leadership of boundary leaders, will enable congregations to regain a valued place within the community. This, I argue, will abate the decline of many congregations and enable an evolutionary path toward renewal. First United Methodist Church of Palatine, Illinois will serve as an example of a church which exists on the periphery of the social and economic ecosystems of the Palatine community. This will be contrasted with some examples from Marengo United Methodist Church, Marengo, Illinois. 

Table of Contents

A Useful Metaphor, p. 1

First United Methodist Church, p. 4

Building New Social Ecosystems, p. 10

Boundary Leadership and Institutions, p. 16

What about First United Methodist Church?, p. 21

Think Different and Ask Different Questions, p. 26

Review and Conclusions, p. 31

About this Dissertation

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Committee Members
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files