The Academy of Church Leadership


Being a pastor or church leader is more demanding than ever and includes far more than spiritual leadership. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, the Academy of Church Leadership at North Park University is dedicated to equipping religious leaders with the skills needed for effective congregational growth. Programs focus on professional development in finance, management, and leadership for religious leaders. Click here to watch an informational video on the Academy of Church Leadership.


5th Annual TACL Fall Conference

October 25–26, 2022
8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

The Academy of Church Leadership welcomes pastors, church staff, and lay leaders of all denominations to attend a two-day event of workshops delivered by pastors, faculty, and practitioners in church administration.

Workshop 1: How To Help Pastors, Leaders, and Volunteers Relight the Fire for Ministry in the Post-COVID Church (Day 1)
Presenter: Trevor James, PhD

This session will focus on discovering the burnout that exists in a post-COVID church and the effects it has on pastors, church leaders and volunteers. From mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, lack of energy, to pastors leaving the ministry, church leaders no longer willing to serve and a significant reduction in volunteers. It will also examine the often-forgotten tech team volunteers/staff who were called upon greatly during this time who continue to feel overworked, underappreciated, pushed aside, and now are leaving their positions. Together we will review the research and assess our current “burn out levels, discuss solutions and discern practical ways we can improve our mental health and care for all those that serve our church so we can relight the fire for ministry.

Workshop 2: Congregational Emotional Systems and Pastoral Transitions (Day 1)
Presenter: Rev. Peter Sjoblom
As many as 20% of congregations are facing pastor retirement or resignations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and political polarization. Hasty problem solving through a quick search can lead to the next pastor becoming an unintentional interim. What work is required to make healthy choices as we face this uncertain future? This workshop builds on emotional systems theory and practical application for anxious congregations.

Workshop 3: Adaptive Leadership (Day 1)
Presenter: Rev. Don Robinson
We live in a changing world. The church is also changing. Responding to a post-COVID-19 pandemic requires change. Leadership needs to adapt and change. What may have worked for church leaders in the past may no longer work as churches adjust to changes in attendance, volunteer participation, its financial base, and hybrid worship services including both in person and online participation. In their books, “Leadership on the Line,” and “The Practice of Adaptive Leadership,” authors, Ronald A. Heifetz, Marty Linsky, and Alexander Grashow, (Harvard Business School Press, © 2002, 2009), describe a process of moving away from merely offering “technical solutions” in leading, to responding “adaptively” to the challenges confronting institutions and organizations. One aspect of the responding “adaptively” is to “get on the balcony” and to look and listen to the deep, core issues confronting individuals and organizations. This workshop will explore the need for adaptive leadership, providing a framework and tools for church leaders to respond to the changing needs of their congregations and communities.

Workshop 4: Church Board Governance (Day 2)
Presenter: Gianfranco Farruggia, PhD
This workshop examines best practices in governance from the nonprofit world. It examines the history of nonprofit governance as well as the compliance and strategic role of boards and how to apply to churches. Various problematic and tricky issues of transparency, strategic thinking, church boards seeing the “big picture”, and dealing with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) will be addressed.

Workshop 5: If You Build It: Strategies for Empowering Faith Formation (Day 2)
Presenter: Kathleen E. Murphy, MSW, PhD, MLIS (Day 2)
The term faith or spiritual formation has been used in many Christian contexts yet can carry different meanings in theory and in practice. This workshop will explore formation from various perspectives in the context of overall church structure and mission. There will be a brief discussion of the definitions, theological foundations, and the goals of formation. Kathleen will then provide a more detailed discussion of the elements of spiritual formation and strategies for addressing the opportunities and challenges of an overarching formation plan in the life of the church. Using a multi-church collaboration called “Sacred Ground,” (a race and faith curriculum by the Episcopal Church) as an exemplar, this workshop will explore how to create an environment that engages, empowers and challenges people of faith individually, collectively and in community. This workshop is not about curriculum development; rather it is about faith formation anchored in the context of baptismal covenant.

Workshop 6: The Church and Civic Engagement (Day 2)
Presenter: Rich Kohng 




Nyvall Hall, Ohlson Lounge, North Park Theological Seminary, 3225 West Foster Avenue, Chicago, Illinois

Interested in attending? Contact Helienai Rosales ( or (773) 244-6270.

Our Programs

The Academy offers academic programs, including a certificate in church administration and a joint MDiv/MBA or MNA.

Joint MDiv/MBA or MNA Program

Certificate Program

50% Tuition Reduction

As part of a long-standing commitment to keep education affordable, North Park University offers funds to qualified pastors, church staff, and lay leaders, plus non-profit and alumni tuition discounts. Beginning in the fall of 2018 students who enroll in the Graduate Certificate in Church Administration will receive a 50% tuition reduction for the courses in that program.

Alumni Spotlights

Latonya Latimore

Latonya Latimore, a Chicago native, was looking for a program that would support the work of the youth and children’s ministry program that she and her daughter had just founded. “When doing my research for nonprofit programs, I was drawn to North Park’s ability to offer online courses and Top 10 listing for nonprofit management education.”


Mark A. Smith

Mark A. Smith came to North Park University to become a strategic leader in full-time ministry with a focus on business and finance. “My leadership competency has been strengthened, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about healthy HR practices for churches and nonprofits, strategic management, risk management, and volunteer management practices.”


Conferences & Workshops

Professional development in finance, management, and leadership.

Event Calendar

Contact Us

Timothy O’Brien, PhD, Program Director, The Academy of Church Leadership
Email Timothy

Rochelle Robinson-Levant, Associate Dean, School of Business and Nonprofit Management
Email Rochelle

About the Lilly Grant

Awarded to North Park to provide programming for church leaders.


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