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The business aspect of the church

In a ground-breaking new partnership, Luther Seminary and Augsburg College will offer a one-week in-residence mini-MBA with training in leadership and management fundamentals for pastors and church lay leaders.

Not only will Augsburg MBA (Master of Business Administration) professors talk about “business” management, there will also be sessions on use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter for congregational and outreach communication. The theme for the mini-MBA training will be “Leading and Managing in a Complex Environment.”

In addition to classroom studies, attendees will have the opportunity to network with other pastors and lay leaders who are facing or have faced the same challenges now before them.

The June 12-17 conference will address issues facing congregations in the 21st century. The goal is to assure actions taken by congregations are consistent with the values of the church, says Steven Zitnick of the Augsburg College MBA program. Zitnick recently completed three years as president of his congregation, giving him a range of experiences that informs his input to this training.

Increasingly, leaders of nonprofit groups, including congregations, require administrative training. Photo provided by Luther Seminary

This intensive program will include case studies and feedback-centered discussions. Evening sessions are also programmed. Not for the faint-hearted or those looking for a relaxing break from church routine, this case-based, interactive course will provide essentials in the following areas:

* finance and accounting,

* communications and marketing (including the use of social networks),

* human resource management,

* organizational assessment, strategic planning and project management,

* personal leadership (e.g. productivity, strengths assessment and alignment), and

* cultivation of innovation and creativity in organizational life.

Prominent figures from the corporate world, including Bruce Nicholson, recently retired CEO of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, are scheduled to offer presentations.

The practical aspects of ministry

Zitnick emphasized that sometimes leadership and management are considered inter-related but they are quite different. He will draw on his academic expertise as well as practical experience in human resources at H.B. Fuller Company, which developed a reputation for ethical management under the late Elmer L. Andersen, former Minnesota governor.

In addition to preaching and teaching, pastors are expected to oversee complex budgeting processes, manage personnel, maintain facilities, form strategic, long-range plans for growth and development, as well as promote the church through traditional communications and new social media. The program will combine insights of an MBA program with theological sensitivity.

Luther Seminary faculty scheduled for the mini-MBA week include David Lose, associate professor for Biblical preaching; Dwight Zschelle, assistant professor, Congregational Mission and Leadership; and Charles Lane, director, Center for Stewardship Leaders.

Sally Peters, Luther Seminary’s director for Lifelong Learning, observed, “Pastors need help with administrative duties and strengthening their management skills, all within a contextual setting. There are high expectations for pastors these days.” She said business leaders are very interested in helping church leaders strengthen their skills. Peters said even in larger congregations with professional help, pastors need to be conversant in finances, for example.

Many seminary graduates move into solo pastorates in their first calls rather than being an associate in a larger congregation; so, they need a variety of skills.

Enrollment will be limited to 25 individuals, and at the time Peters was interviewed by Metro Lutheran, there were already a number of completed registrations. If successful, the mini-MBA would likely be offered again in future years.

Clergy and lay leaders can register online at www.luthersem.edu/kairos or by calling the seminary at 651/641-3416. The cost is $1,500.

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