Practical Church Leadership

Welcome to PCL

“Welcome to the Practical Church Leadership program! By the end of this program, you will master skills and competencies needed to lead and manage your ministry effectively. Relevant coursework, applied learning, meaningful interactions, and coaching all contribute to making this program unlike any other. We look forward to building our PCL community with you. Thanks for being here, and welcome to PCL.”

Alisha Vincent, Ed.D., Director of Practical Church Leadership Program

Key Features

This program provides participants with a certificate and 21-graduate credits in nonprofit administration.

  • Courses are tailored to be applicable to church context and feature virtual guest lectures, relevant readings, and assignments that are helpful for participant’s professional practice.
  • Applied projects are designed by the participant to intentionally benefit the church they are serving.
  • Participants are supported by a coach, who helps with advice and guidance on project work and other administrative challenges.
  • Credits can be coupled with an additional 18 credits to receive DWU’s MBA.

What To Expect

In-person gatherings help you form relationships with your peers, learn from one another and from guests, and connect with coaches. These are typically two full days of worship, learning, and connecting. During the second and third gatherings pastors present results from their applied projects.

Coaches meet with you bi-weekly (during normally scheduled work weeks) for 45 minutes per session to talk through your project and more.

7-week classes are full of content in respective subject matter areas and will require some reading, discussion and/or assignments and virtual, synchronous, lectures 4-5 times per class, on Mondays at noon, Central Time Zone.

The average amount of time pastors devote to the program each week is 4-6 hours. This varies by week and we are sensitive to needed flexibility during important seasons such as Advent and Lent. 


Each scholar is matched with a coach at the start of the program. Many of our coaches have professional endorsements from the international association of professional coaches or international coach federation. Coaches are required to have professional experience in one or more of the subject matter areas delivered throughout the program.


Faculty are content-matter experts, required to have experience in the industry related to their subject matter, and have graduate degrees and/or associated credentials. Faculty are trained to offer pedagogy that is unique, relevant, and tailored to the needs of pastors and church leaders.  

Academic Calendar

The calendar for the PCL program begins in July and runs a full calendar year. The first session is a 2-day in-person orientation in July at DWU, followed by three weeks of onboarding and getting to know your coach, the learning management system, and more. The first 7-week course begins in August. Classes have live guest lectures with experts at noon, Central Time Zone, on 4-5 Mondays throughout each term. The applied project, and associated processes and procedures to help manage the applied project, are also set up similar to a course in our Canvas learning management system and students will have access to that from start to finish as well. We host an in-person event with live speakers for 2-days in mid-January, in regional locations, and one additional in-person event at DWU in mid-July at the conclusion of the program in order to engage in some additional learning, worship together, and celebrate the finish.  


Download a copy of the 2024-2025 PCL Program Calendar for participants in the North and West States (ND/SD/NE/MN/WI/MI) here.

Download a copy of the 2024-2025 PCL Program Calendar for participants in the South and East States (TX/OK/MO/AR/LA/PA/OH/NC) here. 


Download a copy of the 2023-2024 PCL Program Calendar for participants in the Northern States (SD/ND/MN/MI/IA/NE/PA) here.

Download a copy of the 2023-2024 PCL Program Calendar for participants in the Southern States (MO/LA/OK/AR) here. 

Program Requirements

Pre-Program Survey

All students are required to complete this pre-program survey prior to the program start date. A link to complete the pre-program student survey can be found below. 

Technology Needs

Each student is required to have a portable electronic device (Laptop, IPAD, Tablet) that is updated and capable of supporting video streaming, document downloads and uploads.

Students who need Microsoft Office (Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook) can download and/or access Office for free. Access Office at https://www.office.com/ and sign in with your DWU email and password.

We also recommend the use of Google Chrome for a web browser.

Each student will be required to participate in live lectures and coaching sessions, using Microsoft TEAMS or other virtual conferencing software. Devices must be equipped with video and microphone capability, either within the operating system or attached. 

Click here to discover tips on getting started with DWU technology.

Learning Management System and Campus Portal

TigerNet is our internal campus portal used to host information such as: final student grades, access to the online library, and other student life resources. The TigerNet address is: TigerNet.dwu.edu. While most of student learning will happen through Canvas, we do encourage students to bookmark the TigerNet URL on their computer for access to the library and final grades. Please note that students are required to change their password periodically through TigerNet. Failing to do so may result in being locked out of campus systems. Watch your campus email for alerts and reminders.

Canvas is the learning management system DWU uses for all online courses, applied project work, group work, and some coaching. Much of the communication between faculty and students will occur through the Canvas messaging system. Canvas can be used through the Google Chrome web browser and the Canvas Student app, found in the app store for Android and IOS devices. Students should complete the Canvas tutorial prior to the initial gathering in July. 

DWU Messaging and Email

Your DWU Email is hosted by Microsoft Office 365 and offers anywhere access, storage, and collaborative features. Due to security and privacy regulations followed by DWU, all official communication will be sent through this email address, Canvas messaging, or regular postal mail while you are a student at DWU. You can access your student email in the lower left section of TigerNet or directly at outlook.com/go.dwu.edu. We recommend that students also set up Outlook on their mobile phone or other electronic devices. Students are expected to check their messages daily. Please be aware that not all official all-campus communication will pertain to students in this program. Seek guidance from the program director if there is a communication that you have questions or concerns about. 

Full Email Address: firstname.lastname.entryyear@dwu.edu (i.e. alisha.vincent.20@dwu.edu)

Other Requirements
  • Review the July Gatherings information on this webpage.
  • All students should verify that they have the appropriate technology prior to the program start date. See technology section on this page.  
  • Log into the NPA600: The Path of Stewardship 1 and NPA630: Applied Project Classrooms in Canvas. Review the information and make note of any questions you might have. **These classrooms will be open in early July.**

July Gathering

We look forward to gathering with you in July. It will be a wonderful time of networking with peers, getting to know your coaches, and learning from keynote presenters and fellow scholars.

Transportation and Hotel

Students are responsible for making their own flight and hotel arrangements. If your sponsor intends to support these costs, please work with them on reimbursement.

Please remember that you will be required to have a laptop, tablet, or iPad with you to participate in the event. If you must join virtually, also ensure that you have a solid internet connection and video and audio capabilities necessary for streaming and virtual participation.

Site Facilitator Contact Information

Alisha Vincent: alisha.vincent@dwu.edu


DWU has reserved blocks of rooms at the following hotels. Make your reservation no later than June 7 to secure a room at the block rate. Use block Practical Church Leadership or PCL when reserving.

Comfort Inn: 605-990-2400
Hampton Inn: 605-995-1575


Students who are flying will fly into Sioux Falls Regional Airport. Airport Code FSD.

Shuttle Service

Airport shuttles will be provided twice a day to and from the airport to campus. Watch your campus email about shuttle times closer to the event. The airport is a 60 minute drive from campus.

The shuttle cost per student is $30, which will be billed to the participant. Participants can request reimbursement from their sponsor if applicable.


The PCL event begins at noon central on day one and concludes at noon on day three. The official agenda is available here.

Class Information

Accessing Coursework 

Course access links related to your program will appear on the “Dashboard” within Canvas at least three days before the start of the course. If you do not see your upcoming course within this time frame, please contact registrar@dwu.edu

In the Canvas class you will find the syllabus, course objectives, required textbooks and other needed materials. The following will each have a separate classroom in Canvas.  

Once your class is complete, you may still see the link for the completed course up to 14 days after the final grade is entered. Please be sure to download, save, or bookmark resources that you want to retain from your course. 

NPA 680 The Path of Stewardship 3
1 Hours
Students will participate in an immersive weekend with the cohort peers at the conclusion of the program. During this class, students will present their second applied project, reflect on the project strengths and challenges, develop ideas for improvement, and learn from peer presenters. Students will also engage with their mentors and be inspired by other church leaders during guest lectures.
NPA 640 The Path of Stewardship 2
1 Hours
During this class students will present their first applied project, reflect on the project strengths and challenges, develop ideas for improvement, and learn from peer presenters. Students will also engage with their mentors and be inspired by other church leaders during guest lectures.
NPA 615 Financial Resource Management
3 Hours
Financial Resource Management will provide students with fundamental knowledge about processes and procedures for financial planning and financial management. Students will develop skills and techniques through analysis of financial documents and practical application of contemporary financial management tools and techniques.
NPA 630 Applied Project
3 Hours
Scholars will participate in a year-long applied learning experience where they lead the design and delivery of one or two comprehensive projects with the objective of making measurable and positive impacts on administrative functions of the organization. During the course students will be coached by a qualified and trained applied professional who will also provide instruction and support in principles and practices of project management.
NPA 600 The Path of Stewardship 1
1 Hours
During this session, students will be introduced to the program vision, mission, goals and objectives. Students will also become familiar with the online learning platform, have time to network with their peers and other leaders, and establish their own personal goals and objectives for their learning program. Students will also engage with their mentors and learn from guest lecturers.
NPA 620 Governance, Personnel and Volunteer Management
3 Hours
In this course, students will learn the different roles and responsibilities of governing boards, staff members and volunteers, and learn how to navigate roles, responsibilities and relationships within these structures. Students will discover ways to respond to challenges, and how to design appropriate structures and methods for recruiting, training, developing, sustaining and retaining the right talent for important roles and responsibilities in the church.
NPA 650 Vision, Strategy, and Evaluation
3 Hours
Each church has a unique vision. Each board and congregation bring a different perspective on what their purpose is. Each pastor is tasked with determining the appropriate ways to execute this vision and purpose. This course delivers content about how to develop and evaluate vision, mission, and purpose as well as how to design, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of a strategy at both the organization and program levels.
NPA 661 Communications and Community Outreach
3 Hours
In this course, students will develop an understanding of their churchs alignment with the needs of their congregational community as well as the needs of their community of geographic proximity. Students will explore a variety of mediums and communication strategies to design (or modify) methods of internal and external communications, develop skills in marketing and messaging to and for their church, and evaluate and engage strategies for effective outreach.
NPA 610 Financial Resource Development
3 Hours
This course will discuss the current state of giving within the church, examine the underlying tenets of giving from a scriptural and a human perspective, and explore different approaches for cultivating giving within the church that will enable short and long-term sustainable resource development.

LIVE LECTURES: Instructors in the 7-week, online, courses host several live lectures each term. These are 1-hour sessions with guest experts, book authors, and more and occur on Mondays at 12 Central Time. Please make sure to reserve Mondays at noon central time in your calendars for these sessions. 

Textbook Information

Each class varies in terms of textbook requirements. Professors will notify students, either via email or through Canvas messaging, what texts or other learning resources might be required to purchase before the start of class. Students are responsible for having necessary academic resources required by the professor. If assistance is needed, please contact the Program Director. 

You can use a company of your choice to order books. If you wish to order your books through DWU Bookstore please email the bookstore director, Lori Solberg, at lori.solberg@dwu.edu

Books are typically located in the resources area of your Canvas classroom or in your course syllabus. 

Special Accommodations

Any student who believes she or he may need academic accommodations or access accommodations based on the impact of a documented disability is encouraged to contact and register with Student Disability Services prior to the beginning of the first online class. Student Disability Services is the official office to assist and support students in the process of disability verification and coordination of appropriate and reasonable accommodations. Students currently registered with Student Disability Services must obtain new accommodation letters each semester. 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees the privacy of students with disabilities. 

For more information, questions, and/or accommodation arrangement, please contact: 

Office of Student Disability Services 
Phone: (605) 995-2931 
Fax: (605) 995-2660 

Final Grades

You should view your final grades for each session within TigerNet

Click on the Advising tab and then Grades and Transcripts on the left-hand side. Select your term. 

The grade recorded on the grade report will be the official grade on record and may be different than what is shown in the course gradebook. If you believe there is an error in your grade you should first contact your instructor. If not resolved, please refer to the appeal process in the online catalog.

 Graduate Certificate Process

Students who have successfully passed each course and completed all requirements with a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or above (or CR if taking courses as CR/NC) are eligible to apply for the certificate. Certificates will be awarded to students who have completed all classes within one month of the completion of the program. Students will be sent information about completing an online application for certification in May, prior to program completion. Directions on requesting an official transcript can be found here.

MBA Pathway

DWU offers a unique opportunity for PCL certificate earners to finish their Master of Business Administration by taking an additional 18 credits. This part-time, flexible, all-online program is completed less than a year and features relevant classroom learning that is applicable to your professional life. For more information and to find contact information, please see our MBA page.

Other Information

Important Program Contacts

For all technology related questions or troubleshooting: support@dwu.edu 

For academic or other overall program questions: Alisha Vincent, Ed.D., Program Director, alisha.vincent@dwu.edu605-641-6753 

For questions regarding admissions for PCL or the MBA: Admissions, admissions@dwu.edu

For questions regarding classes in Canvas or your schedule: registrar@dwu.edu

For questions regarding coaching: William Lewis, Coaching Coordinator, william.lewis@dwu.edu 

Planning To Move

 If you plan to move while working on your certification, please let us know so that we can update our records. 

PCL Certificate Program Policies

Please refer to this document for program policies.

 Helpful Videos 

Visit our PCL YouTube playlist for special testimonials and informative videos. 

PCL Referral Program

Refer three colleagues or pastor friends to Dakota Wesleyan’s PCL program and receive a DWU tumbler.
Your First Name:
Your Last Name:
Referral 1 –
Full Name:
Cell Phone Number (with area code):
Referral 2 –
Full Name:
Cell Phone Number (with area code):
Referral 3 –
Full Name:
Cell Phone Number (with area code):


Please email us or give us a call.  

Alisha Vincent, Ed.D.
Director of Practical Church Leadership Program

Phone: 605-641-6753
Email: alisha.vincent@dwu.edu