Nonprofit leadership program projects resource churches

January 30, 2019
Rev. Randy Koppen listens to presentations at Lake Poinsett Living Waters Retreat Center, where Nonprofit Church Leadership Certificate Program (NCLP) participants gathered Jan. 15. Photos by Doreen Gosmire, Dakotas Conference

By: Doreen Gosmire, with contributions from Christa Meland

Near the end of 2018, Rev. Brenda King was faced with the fact that one of the churches she serves would not be able to pay its apportionments.

King—who pastors First in Appleton, Zion in Bellingham, and First in Correll—started thinking about what she had learned in the Nonprofit Church Leadership Certificate Program (NCLP) she’s taking through Dakota Wesleyan University. Ten Minnesota clergy and eight Dakotas clergy are participating in the program, which was made possible through a $1 million Lilly grant that the Dakotas-Minnesota Area received.

“I put into place some of the concepts and guidelines I had learned in the class about financial stewardship and telling stories of transformation,” said King. “We raised the $9,000 that was needed. That was huge!” 

Going forward, those same concepts and skills can be used to help the church raise money to fulfill its mission—and follow best practices in financial stewardship.

The NCLP is a year-long experience that includes online learning as the primary teaching platform; it started in July 2018. Participants gather in-person three times over the course of that period, and they complete two applied learning projects that focus on and benefit the local churches they are serving. The program is broken into four modules: financial stewardship, stewarding human resources, stewarding vision, and stewarding the church. Participants are now working on their first applied project, which is designed to connect course content to their professional work environment (read more about the NCLP and applied projects here).

Participants gather at Lake Poinsett Living Waters Retreat Center Jan. 15.

The applied projects are positively impacting participants’ congregations, and in some cases their conferences, in a variety of ways.

King’s first applied project was developing, documenting, and implementing management guidelines and processes for funerals, weddings, confirmation, building access, and other areas at each of the congregations she serves.  

The coursework and applied projects are relevant for all sizes of congregations. “Small churches face the same issues and needs that larger churches face—the need for churches to plan and manage finances does not change,” said King. “In a small church, it is assumed that we know what to do and that everyone understands. However, that is not the case.”

King said one of the key concepts from her courses that has guided her is Scott and Jaffe's “change model.” “I got some push back [from my congregations] at first, but as we looked at things in committees and groups, they began to see how having a defined process could be useful,” she said.

Rev. Mark Erhmantraut, senior pastor at McCabe UMC in Bismarck, North Dakota, is also a participant in the NCLP.

His first applied project was developing a three-year plan to access, design, and implement different worship styles for the congregation—and part of it involved organizing a two-day event called “Resonate” to enhance participants’ skills in the areas of worship, preaching, creation, design, and delivery.

“The applied projects are beneficial,” he said. “There is a lot of information and resources that have been gathered and shared…We have a team that is in the process of conducting a worship audit. We’re looking at style, times, visual appeal, and attracting more people.” 
Rev. Mark Ehrmantraut listens to presentations at Lake Poinsett Living Waters Retreat Center Jan. 15.

Erhmantraut said his coursework has also guided him to ask critical questions as he leads his congregation. For example: How can we move from being reactive to proactive in budgeting? How do we form teams? How do we communicate?

The 2018 NCLP cohort participants will complete their second applied project in May.

A second cohort will begin in July. Minnesota participants in the new cohort will be Andrew Buschena, Henry Dolopei, Karen Evenson, Michelle Hargrave, Shawna Horn, Erica Koser, Becky Jo Messenbrink, Laura Nordstrom, Becky Sechrist, and Rachel Warner. Dakotas participants are Nicole Anderson, Andy Bartel, Lori Broschat, Peggy Hanson, Geoffrey Hilton, Karl Kroger, Clay Lundberg, Scott McKirdy, and Kris Mutzenberger.

There are still open slots for five more participants. To apply to be part of the next cohort, click here.

The 18 current NCLP participants’ applied projects include stewardship campaigns, capital campaigns, management of staff and volunteers, church policies and procedures, budgeting practices, and assessment tools. Here’s a brief description of the applied projects for the 2018 cohort: 
Participant Church(es) Project
Mark Ehrmantraut McCabe UMC (Bismarck, North Dakota) Developing a three-year plan for worship and staffing
Brenda King First UMC (Appleton), Zion UMC (Bellingham), and First UMC (Correll) Creating a policy and procedure manual that includes guidelines and best practices for each church
Randy Koppen First UMC (Redwood Falls) Creating a financial health assessment tool to help churches determine their primary strengths and challenges—and discover new resources
Seth LaBounty First UMC (Pierre, South Dakota) Developing a process for recruiting, equipping, communicating with, and governing volunteers and staff
Sarah Lawton Hope UMC (Duluth) Right-sizing the church budget to eliminate a deficit after losing 20 percent of the budget when a renter vacated the building
Gary Liker Grace UMC (Pequot Lakes) Implementing transformational stewardship within the congregation
Sara McManus Flame of Faith UMC (West Fargo, North Dakota) Creating a stewardship plan to organize staff and volunteers to efficiently pursue the mission of the church
Nate Melcher Hennepin Avenue UMC (Minneapolis) Creating interactive stewardship materials and a plan for stewardship communication within the church
Ryan Mutzenberger First UMC (Fargo, North Dakota) Creating a culture of generosity—through powerful stories, small groups, and a sermon series—that leads to an increase in time and money
Jeff Ozanne Willmar UMC Developing a culture of generosity in the congregation
Max Richter Champlin UMC Creating a stewardship team that’s focused not on raising funds for the budget but helping people give generously to God
Katie Ricke Zion UMC (Beresford, South Dakota) Developing a year-round stewardship process that develops generous givers and creates a missional budget
Tyler Sit New City Church (Minneapolis) Developing a process to launch a generosity campaign using a team, social media, branding, and a living gospel class
Brooke Heerwald Steiner Excelsior UMC Identifying vision, mission, purpose, strategies, and ministry team structure
Rebecca Trefz Dakotas Conference director of ministries Creating a tool for churches and pastors that helps clergy annually assess their strengths and growing edges, and develop goals for personal and professional growth
Jen Tyler Evergreen UMC (Wahpeton, North Dakota) Developing a healthy financial policy and procedures, creating a legacy fund, and connecting finance practices with mission and purpose
Carol Zaagsma Portland Avenue UMC (Minneapolis) Creating a culture of healthy givers, increasing electronic avenues for giving, and increasing giving to an endowment
Dayne Zachrison Epworth UMC (Valley City, North Dakota) Sharing the stories of a successful capital campaign in order to increase the number of small groups, connections with other churches, visitors, and members


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