Practical Church Leadership
Lead your church with confidence
Accelerate change and transform your leadership skills with Dakota Wesleyan's Practical Church Leadership (PCL) program.
What’s the difference at DWU?
In just one year, you complete this program with courses that are flexible and accommodating
of your church calendar.
You will be able to connect from anywhere.
Courses are accelerated, so you only focus on the skills that are relevant to today’s church.
Applied projects will focus on your church’s needs and will lead to major church transformation.
You will be assigned to a professional coach who will help you understand material and execute projects.
Throughout the program, you will have three face-to-face, two-day accelerator workshops designed to help you connect and learn.
This is an ecumenical program tailored to meet the unique needs of churches across denominations. Past graduates have represented Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and other church entities.
- The PCL program begins in July and runs a full calendar year.
- The first session is a 2-day in-person orientation in July, on campus 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) on 4-5 Mondays throughout each term.
- Students will have access to the applied project in our Canvas learning management system from start to finish.
- DWU will 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 additional learning, worship together, and celebrate.
To be eligible you must currently be working as a Pastor or an Associate Pastor.
Scholarships may be available through denominational continuing education grants, foundation support, local church funding, DWU financial aid or payment plans.
This program includes 21-graduate credits.
NPA 680 The Path of Stewardship 3
NPA 640 The Path of Stewardship 2
NPA 615 Financial Resource Management
NPA 630 Applied Project
NPA 600 The Path of Stewardship 1
NPA 620 Governance, Personnel and Volunteer Management
NPA 650 Vision, Strategy, and Evaluation
NPA 661 Communications and Community Outreach
NPA 610 Financial Resource Development
Hear it from our students.
Practical Church Leadership Confidence Level Survey
Want to earn an MBA?
18 of your 21 credits earned can be applied toward DWU's MBA in Nonprofit Administration for church leaders who wish to continue post-certificate.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the PCL program for?
The Practical Church Leadership program is designed for practicing clergy and ministry professionals with at least two years of experience. Because this program is steeped in relevant and applicable learning and provides expert coaching and support, participants can immediately impact and navigate the realities of the church today.
What are the benefits of the PCL program?
Benefits for YOU and the ministry you serve:
Financial Resource Development
Grow the current state of giving within your church, examine the underlying tenets of giving from a scriptural and a human perspective, and explore different approaches for cultivating giving that will enable short and long-term sustainable resource development.
Develop fundamental knowledge about processes and procedures for financial planning and financial management and strengthen skills through analysis of financial documents and practical application of contemporary financial management tools and techniques.
Governance, Personnel, and Volunteer Management
Evaluate different leadership and governance structures for nonprofit and church oversight. Assess best practices for human resource development and management, and your capacity for volunteer recruitment, development, engagement, and retention.
Vision, Strategy and Evaluation
Compose or refresh vision, mission, values, and purpose statements while you develop competency for strategic planning, program design and evaluation.
Communications and Community Outreach
Explore a variety of mediums and communication strategies to design or modify methods of internal and external communication, develop skills in marketing for your church, and evaluate strategies for effective outreach.
Make measurable and positive impacts on administrative functions of your organization with a comprehensive applied project. You’ll be coached by a qualified and trained applied professional who will also provide instruction and support in principles and practices of project management.
What should I expect for a time commitment?
The average amount of time participants devote to the program each week is 4-6 hours. This varies by week, and the program is very sensitive to needed flexibility during important seasons such as Advent and Lent.
Three in-person gatherings will be held, and include two days of worship, learning, and connecting. In-person gatherings help form relationships with peers, learning from one another and from guests, and connecting with coaches.
Live class sessions are typically held from 12-1 (CST) on Mondays during the 7-week, online classes. The 7-week classes are full of content in respective subject matter areas and will require some reading, discussion and/or applied assignments.
How does the coaching work?
Coaches are matched with students through a process that engages discerning mutual interest areas, professional experience, personality and strengths assessments.
Each coach completes training and development to become a professional coach. Many of our coaches have endorsements from the international association of professional coaches or international coach federation.
Coaches meet with students bi-weekly, during normally scheduled work weeks, for 45 minutes to talk through applied project and more.
What is the ROI?
The return on investment is distinct.
Participants in the PCL program have:
- Grown giving units by as much as 65%
- Directed transition from multiple committee governance to a single board
- Decreased time dedicated to meetings by more than 50%
- Improved financial management practices
- Redesigned volunteer systems that resulted in increases in volunteers with less burnout and less turnover
- Launched new discipleship ministries that impact hundreds in their communities.
At DWU, we take the time to establish personal and meaningful connections with our students. As you explore the program, you’ll work with an admissions representative and our program director that focused on you and your goals.