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Fuller Launches Church Leadership Institute

If you are a Christian leader, do you feel equipped to lead amidst the massive changes confronting our world? Where do you begin to prepare yourself for this type of training? There is an urgent need for exemplary leadership within the church to match this pivotal moment in history. The mission of the new Church Leadership Institute with the De Pree Center for Leadership responds to this need by forming church leaders to lead faithful change in a rapidly changing and disruptive world.

Historically, pastors and Christian leaders have been trained to be teachers and chaplains, but a rapidly shifting, continually disruptive world requires that they also become skilled at leading faithful change in their organizations. When pastors are honest they report, “My training didn’t prepare me for this” and “I’m not sure I can survive this.” A post-Christendom culture, a pandemic, an economic recession, and the growing outcry against racial injustice have made church leaders’ task  even more complex. With churches having vastly different resource capacities, effective training and formation that are both scalable and affordable are more necessary than ever. 

Led by Associate Professor of Leadership Formation Tod Bolsinger, the Church Leadership Institute (CLI) seeks to address this growing need by consulting, coaching, and training Christians leaders to drive change within the acute and adaptive challenges of their context, and  by bringing Fuller faculty research and the resources of the Leadership Formation Division directly to leaders. CLI will offer support to leaders in congregations and nonprofit Christian organizations, studying their change initiatives to identify best practices and publishing the insights to equip the greater church.

“I’m so pleased that Fuller is launching the Church Leadership Institute with Tod Bolsinger at the helm,” said Chief of Leadership Formation Kara Powell. “Leaders’ tough challenges require theologically grounded and interdisciplinary formation, which CLI is well poised to offer.”

CLI recently received a $1M grant from the Lilly Endowment for the Online Adaptive Capacity Project (OACP), which will provide funding for CLI to build upon the resources, connections, and work it has already accomplished. This includes:

  • Connections: a network of 4,500 church leaders 
  • Adaptive Church Leadership Cohort: 20 diverse churches in an 18-month adaptive change process 
  • Ongoing Coaching: eight senior leaders or teams 
  • Consultations: seven churches and one denominational project 
  • Speaking: 90 speaking engagements completed or scheduled in 2020 (25,0000+ attendees) 
  • Books: Canoeing the Mountains (~100,000 sales) Leadership in a Time of Pandemic (June 2020) Tempered Resilience (November 2020)
  • Platform Resources: “Leading in a Changing World,” “Guiding Your Church Through the Pandemic,” “Tempered Resilience for Leading Change”
  • Hybrid Platform Resource: six-week guided deep dive through Tempered Resilience 

CLI is an initiative developed in partnership with Fuller’s De Pree Center for Leadership, and builds on their expertise in training leaders for service. Mark Roberts, executive director of Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, noted the synergy of this partnership: “I’m delighted that the Church Leadership Institute will be housed in the De Pree Center. Though our top priority is serving marketplace leaders, from the beginning the De Pree Center has also helped pastors sort out the challenges of leadership. CLI builds upon the fine church-related work done by Scott Cormode, the Hugh De Pree Professor of Leadership, who helps to integrate the work of the center with Fuller’s schools.”

Learn more about CLI here.