Eight years ago, Matthew Short was the pastor of a growing Lutheran congregation in Wisconsin. He said, “At the time, I didn’t know how to do strategic planning, manage staff, or conduct performance reviews. The congregation needed me to have those skills.”
To increase his leadership abilities, Matt attended a four-day leadership retreat entitled Leading Well. This event is sponsored by Portico Benefits Services of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Vibrant Faith, an organization of ministry leaders facilitating positive change. Leading Well is a three-year program with monthly coaching sessions during the year.
Matthew committed to learn from the program and the results in the congregation were transformational. Matthew said his biggest learning was strategic planning. “I brought my new knowledge and skills to the congregation and members became connected to each other and involved in creating the church’s future.”
The four-day Leading Well event consists of one-third learning leadership concepts, one-third collegial support, and one-third sabbath rest. Matthew said, “The program provides a safe space for church leaders to learn about their leadership styles, ways of managing conflict, and practical tools to take next steps. It is amazing how quickly a sense of community is formed.”
Matthew is now the Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelical Mission in the Greater Milwaukee Synod of the ELCA, and he is one of the facilitators for the Leading Well events. He explains the need for the events this way: “As the world changes rapidly, today’s church leaders are facing the twin challenges of managing the anxiety of current church members and casting the vision of a renewed church and faith.
Leading Well will continue to be held annually at Spirit in the Desert Retreat Center, which Matthew describes as “a perfect and peaceful setting for the event, with excellent facilities, and a focus on hospitality.”