Executive Skills for Church Leaders

July 15-19, 2019 (Register below)
California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California

This continuing education event for pastors and church leaders will explore how concepts from a MBA program can be applied to the arena of congregational life.

January 14-18, 2019  (January 6-10, 2020)
Register at: Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, Carefree, Arizona

California Lutheran University offers a week of continuing education with faculty from the School of Management. In the complex environment of congregational management, we all can use new tools for ministry.  Each day, we explore a different theme.

All three levels run at the same time. This is due to our desire to create synergies between the participants as they join together in housing, meals and breaks while participating in different levels/classes.  Level 1 is the prerequisite to Level 2 and 3.

Promotional Flyer

  Level 1 will include:

  • Finance - The Importance of Numbers
    Churches live by faith, but on this side of eternity, we have to pay the bills.  Stewardship encompasses our whole lives and part of being a good steward is our stewardship over the earthly resources that God has entrusted in our care.  The church is not a loose association of wandering preachers but an integrated body of brothers and sisters united in Christ.  In this class we will look at stewardship through the lenses of finance and resource allocation.   Numbers tell stories and money matters.  We will review the creation of budgets, financial statements, but more importantly, understand the stories that they ultimately tell.
  • Leadership - What is Your Leadership Style?

  • Marketing- What is Marketing?
    Church Leaders will be taken through the development of story from a marketing perspective incorporating research (survey analysis and other tools), persona development, experiential involvement, marketing promotional including flyer development, social media analytics and outreach. 
  •   Information Systems - Ministry in a Digital Age
  • Emerging technology for pastors will identify a framework for evaluating choices about new technology for worship, pastoral care, and other church functions. Various emerging technologies for churches will be considered, such as virtual reality, livestreaming worship (both directions), drones, new social media, and the like. New technologies appear frequently – how do we make the best use of those (and avoid others) to accomplish our mission?

  • Strategic Questions - The Five Most Important Questions You Can Ask


  • Entrepreneurship - What is our Value Proposition?

Level 2/3 will include:

  • Human Resources - Getting the Right People in the Right Job

    This session will cover the critical pieces of hiring correctly, then follow lunch with an overview of laws that impact even churches.  We'll close with a critical piece of being a manager of staff, Emotional Intelligence.

  • Leadership and Spirituality - Why does Spirituality Matter in Leadership?

    How does one help a congregation move from maintenance to mission, from membership to discipleship? Rev. Dr. Rick Rouse (former director of the Grand Canyon Synod’s Missional Leadership Academy and a trainer for Healthy Leaders, Healthy Congregations) will explore how healthy leaders are vital to helping a congregation effectively maneuver times of anxiety and change. Participants will learn new skills and consider a leadership paradigm shift that can promote a climate of discipleship in the local congregation.

  • Strategy - How to Go From Good to Great

    What is Strategic Thinking?

    Rather than traditional strategic planning, which focuses on a set time period of 3 to 5 years, Beth Lewis, President & CEO of 1517 Media has used the concept of strategic thinking as a technique for turning around the organization from near collapse to a vibrant, sustainable ministry and business of publishing. In this session, you’ll learn the basics of adapting to this faster-paced and more flexible way of leading an organization, especially in turbulent times.

     Strategic Thinking in a Faith-based Context

    In this segment, attendees will take the strategic thinking techniques discussed in the first session and apply them to missional congregational planning. Among the things you will learn are:

    • How to educate members of your congregation about strategic thinking and why it's important for your missional calling in your context.
    • How to get people thinking strategically for mission rather than tactically.
    • How to assess your environments, both internal & external.
    • Plus, you’ll walk away with specific tools to use in your setting.

      Practical Tools for Moving Your Ministry from Good to Great
    • In this segment, attendees will discuss the concepts in Jim Collins’ Good to Great and the Social Sectors and how they can be applied to their ministries. This research-based analysis of organizations focuses on leadership, excellence in staffing, embracing the Stockdale paradox, focus, creating a culture of discipline, use of technology and other helpful tools for moving ministries from good to great.
  • Mission - What is a Missional Organization?
  • Organizational Development - How to Make Your Organization Healthy (case studies)
  • Technology - Emerging Technology for Your Organization

This dynamic continuing education program will be limited to 20 registrants for each level. Participants will be invited to bring a particular project or issue that they will focus on during the week. Through lectures, group work, and one-on-one learning participants will gain valuable and needed skills for their work as pastors and church leaders in congregational settings. The participants will live, learn, and work together throughout the week.

*This education event equals 25 contact hours.


Location: Cal Lutheran Campus in Thousand Oaks, CA

Cost: $799.00 (includes classes, materials, room and board).  Deposit due of $150.  Final payment due on June 15.  If you need to cancel before July 1, you will receive $100 of your deposit back.  If you cancel after July 1, your $150 deposit is non-refundable.

Cost Commuter fee: $625.00 (includes classes, materials, snacks and lunches) Will include dinner if evening sessions are scheduled.

Time: The event will begin on Monday,and conclude at 12:00 pm on Friday,.

Travel: For those who are traveling, housing may be arranged for the nights of Sunday, and Friday.  Cost is $20 per night and can be reserved through the registration site.



Guests will be housed in residence halls.  Most halls have private  bedrooms with shared bath.  Linens (sheet, pillow, light weight blanket, towel and wash cloth) are included. *Please note these are empty dorm rooms which basically include just a bed.


Breakfast and dinner will be in Ullman Dining Commons.  A lunch buffet is provided near the classroom.


Airport: What airport should I fly into? How will I get from the airport to the Cal Lutheran campus? Flying into LAX is often cheaper, but Burbank Airport is way smaller and closer to us…sometimes worth it if the cost isn’t that different. There are shuttles (Prime Time, SuperShuttle, Roadrunner) you can take from the airport to campus. Uber and Lyft pick up from both airports and that costs about $60 one way from both airports. There is a train station at Burbank Airport that you could catch a ride from (Amtrak) and then take Uber from there which is only about 15 minutes from campus so it would be less money.

Do I need a car for the week? You can rent a car, but you don’t really need a car for the rest of the week unless you are hoping to do touristy stuff while not in class at night. Often people share vehicles and get around just fine. 

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For payment by credit card: REGISTER ONLINE (For event at Cal Lutheran only)  To register for the January event, please use the link to Spirit in the Desert at the top of the page.

To pay by check send this form with your payment


William Gartner

Bruce Gillies

Sarah Fischbach

Kapp Johnson

Bonnie Johnson

Beth Lewis

Christopher Njunge

Rick Rouse

Colleen McCarthy

Paul Witman

Alan Nelson