Executive Skills for Church Leaders


July 13-17, 2021

California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California

This event is currently scheduled for July 13-17, 2021 on the campus of California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California.  As the future is currently uncertain about the ability to host events on campus more information will be provided at a later date. 

January 11-15, 2021

Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, Carefree, Arizona

 Please check with Spirit in the Desert regarding their ability to host onsite events.

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.

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?
    Leadership takes on different meanings for different situations and people.  You also have your own leadership style that you prefer to default to, whether autocratic, democratic, facilitative, or participative.  This course will help you identify your primary leadership style, it strengthens as well as challenges and helps you understand when to shift your leadership style to meet the needs of your followers.
  • 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

    This class is designed to introduce Church leaders to the discovery of their congregation’s potential by honing their goals and objectives to their mission. You will be introduced to a clear, accessible model for achieving congregational results utilizing their mission and goals. The class combines long-range planning and strategic thinking with a passion for ministry leadership. It allows an organization to plan for results, to learn from its customers and clients, and to release the energy of its people to achieve unexpected levels of ministry. At the heart of this class are Peter Drucker's Five Most Important Questions that lead participants to address the critical aspects that make their organizations viable and valuable entities. When answered thoughtfully and addressed with purpose, these questions take one down a path to organizational transformation and thriving: What is our Mission? Who is our Customer? What does the Customer Value? What are our Results? What is our Plan? By leveraging these essential questions, the class will challenge church leaders to take a close look at the very heart of their organizations and what drives them.

    Entrepreneurship - What is our Value Proposition?
    This class draws from the world of Entrepreneurship and asks the question: What is your value proposition? What is the promise of value to be delivered by your ministry? Your value proposition is the primary reason a person would come to your ministry and not some other institution.  When your ministry can articulate your value proposition it tells the prospective member how your ministry can help them solve their problems and improves their lives (pains and gains).


Cohort 2 will include:

Innovation in Ministry

 In Cohort 2, we will explore, discuss and apply the concepts of Design Thinking to co-create transformative ministry with a focus on the Gospel.  This is generally a smaller sized intimate group for enhanced learning.

  1. Re-Imaging how Church “Works”
    1. Theology of “Design”
    2. Constructive Disruption
    3. Co-creation with Ministry Partners
  2. Transformative Ministry
    1. Evangelism through Innovation
    2. Communities & Congregations
    3. Sustainable and viable

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.

Unleashing Your Church

This seminar will explore how pastors can empower members to discover and experience their God-given purpose in life. As life and ministry become more complex, people are seeking purpose. Authentic faith is the faith lived in and through the church. If ministry is properly focused in the members, then spiritual formation will focus on lived ministry in the world.

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: If held on campus - $799.00 (includes classes, materials, room and board).  Deposit due of $100.  Final payment due on June 15.  If you need to cancel before July 1, you will receive $50 of your deposit back.  If you cancel after July 1, your $100 deposit is non-refundable. *Please note that if you are registering for Level 2 that we need a prescribed number of students for this session to continue, and be of a benefit for all that attend.  That determination will be made by May 1.

Cost Commuter fee: If held on campus$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: If held on campus - 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. 

Level 2  has an interesting and exciting selection of topics and presenters for your learning experience. This level has a smaller group we encourage you to take full advantage. You will have the undivided attention of the presenter and we encourage you to think deeply about what you want to gain from each presenter. This will be a special oppurnity for you and we are excited to help make it happen.  Please bring to the week your questions, concerns, and challenges to work on with the presenter. This will be a week with personal consultants who can tailor their message, skills and perspectives to your situation. So bring lots of data (congregational and environmental) and interests with you in July. Also, have your congregational statistics readily at hand, particularly the demographics, age, occupation, gender, ethnicity, household make up and then have your environmental data in which your congregation is located. How does your congregation fit in its environment? Giving - who gives, what is the giving potential so you would want demographic financial data and how this data relates to your demographic environment. Any work your congregations has done on strategic planning, mission and new member identification (customers?). Lastly, inactives, who are they why might they be inactive?


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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.

Presenters -TBD