Executive Skills for Church Leaders

July 15-19, 2019

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 January 6-10, 2020

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 Levels 2 and 3.

Cohort 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?


Cohort 2 will include:

Leadership and Organizational Change

Most pastors would probably agree that: 1) organizational change is constant, and 2) leading change is one of the most difficult pastoral skills required today. In this seminar we will discuss how to align leadership on the execution of change; articulating the changes needed across the organization; emotionally connecting the congregation to a renewed mission narrative; managing fear, fatigue and conflict as unforeseen issues; and maintaining trust and accountability.

Market Research for your Congregation

Now that you have completed the overview of marketing, often referred to as 'principle to marketing' you will learn the techniques needed to develop marketing research for your own congregation.  This will include hands on experience with survey tools, google analytics, brand management through iMOVIE, Facebook and YouTube.  We will also discuss how brand management is used in nonprofits and the strategies used to develop search engine optimization referred to as SEO. 

How can your strategy, ministry teams & structure be aligned to your congregation’s calling? Learning from the field of Organizational Development.

As Christians, we often think about vocation and purpose for our individual lives. However, we can also extend this examination onto the life of the congregation. Given your parishioners and context, what is your congregation’s specific purpose, and how has that purpose influenced your plans and strategy? Is this purpose embedded into your congregation’s practices? Together, we’ll explore your congregation’s calling and how to embed that calling into everyday practice.

Stewardship and Fundraising

Churches rely upon the generosity of members and donors for Most if not all of their funding. Consequently, fundraising is an activity of major importance to congregations in its mission of stewardship. In this seminar we will not only consider tried and true stewardship programs but also new approaches such as online fundraising, smartphone based techniques such as text-to-give, social media fundraising, and email fundraising.

Organizational Behavior

This seminar integrates the study of management principles and practices with the study of human behavior within organizations. Our focus is upon translation of management and organizational behavior theory to practices that result in congregational effectiveness in ministry, efficiency, and human resource development. Our primary goal is to prepare church leaders for advanced leadership roles in contemporary society. This course provides a good foundation for Church leaders intending to develop their leadership skills.

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.