Pre-Institute Sessions

These high-impact sessions going in depth on a variety of ministry topics are offered during the day Wednesday 9/25 prior to the Opening Session of Leadership Institute.

Most sessions are offered once in the morning and again in the afternoon, so you may select any two of the workshops below to attend.


September 25, 2019

AM Session: 9:00am-12pm

PM Session: 1:30-4:30pm

When Everyone’s Perfect But Me

How often do leaders ask for help, or find ways to care for themselves? Toward the goal of living full-tilt and loving well, self-care plays a vital role. A key to this comes from a solid sense of one’s identity as a beloved child of the living God. Learn how to overcome the limitation prophecies spoken over your life, manage the expectations that hold you down, and value the sacred in everyday life. In this workshop, you will learn how to reach into your best self and gather strength for the leadership role that awaits as together we face this important moment in the church. In a world where it seems that everyone is perfect but me, find focus in the chaos and perfection in your ordinary compelling you to lead boldly into the future with hope.

Rachel Billups

Rachel Billups serves as Pastor and Lead Communicator at Ginghamsburg UMC, providing leadership and vision for the Tipp City Campus. She partners with worship, mission and discipleship ministries to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Rachel, an Elder within the United Methodist Church and graduate of Duke Divinity School, is the author of Be Bold: Finding Your Fierce. She and her husband, Jon, have four children – Adeline, Christopher, David and Sarah.

Difficult Conversations

From our interpersonal relationships to international relations, our world is fraught with conflict. How is it possible two people can see the same issue from such different perspectives? And how might we lead others to a deeper, more compassionate understanding of each other’s differences? Magrey deVega explores a systems theory called “Spiral Dynamics,” which will enable you to understand the complex varieties of consciousness at work in our families, churches, and communities. You will learn to facilitate conversations across multiple divides, lead in an empathetic, non-anxious way, and create pathways for positive change in the community.

Magrey deVega

Magrey R. deVega is Senior Pastor at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, Florida. He is the author of several books, including One Faithful Promise: The Wesleyan Covenant for Renewal, and the upcoming Almost Christmas: A Wesleyan Advent Experience.  He is a graduate of United Theological Seminary and Eckerd College and the father of two daughters, Grace and Madelyn.

Church Unique: Strengthening Your Culture for Real Church Growth

In a time of umpteen opinions and diverse models on how to do church, how do you lead with clarity and confidence? In this session, Will Mancini will reveal how to nurture the culture of mission inside the church to strengthen the church’s engagement outside the church. Learn five key steps to create redemptive movement utilizing your church’s existing strengths.

Will Mancini

Will Mancini is an entrepreneur, church consultant, and pastor who loves to help people experience break-thru clarity in their life and ministry.  He is the founder and president of Auxano, a non-profit, nationally based church consulting firm and the cofounder of Younique, a coaching company that delivers life design training through local churches. His books include Church Unique and Clarity Spiral: 4 Break-thru Practices for Finding Your One Thing in Life. Will lives in Houston with his wife Romy, and has four children, Jacob, Joel, Abigail and Poema. Learn more about Will and his work at

Navigating Transition: Leaning into the Future Without Fear

There is a difference between change and transition. While change may be a given, transition is not. Change is an external – intentional or unexpected, in or out of control. Transition happens on the personal level and is about what is happening to people, in people, and with people as they experience change. Come and think together about how we will navigate change and transition, address fears and uncertainty, give ourselves grace… knowing that in this process we are not alone. God is with us every step of the way.

Matt Miofsky

Matt Miofsky is Lead Pastor of The Gathering United Methodist Church, a multi-site church in Saint Louis, Missouri. Matt gained a degree in Advanced Math and played football at Washington University and then attended Candler School of Theology. Matt lives with his family in Saint Louis and is the author of Let Go: Leaning Into the Future without Fear and co-author, with Jason Byassee, of Eight Virtues of Rapidly Growing Churches.

How to Achieve Next-Level Generosity in Times of Uncertainty

Fully funding ministry isn’t getting easier; it’s getting harder. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Every church has the opportunity to turn their God-dreams into reality when two things work together: vision and action. Vision provides the context while action is anchored by a flexible leadership framework that will enable you to turn your ministry potential into measurable impact. Grounded in church trends and data, you’ll learn what it takes to prioritize and execute a comprehensive strategy that will grow your people and your culture of generosity. You’ll walk away with ideas you can implement that will help you go to the next level and ensure money is never a reason you don’t say “yes” to reaching your community, making disciples, and creating an eternal impact.

Joe Park

Joe Park is the Managing Principle at Horizons Stewardship. He combines a banking background with his passion for local church ministry to lead a team of 38 strategists who help church and faith based non-profit leaders develop comprehensive funding strategies to do more ministry. Joe will be joined by:

Kristine Miller (Principle, Horizons Stewardship) has leveraged her business background to serve church and nonprofit leaders over the last 20 years by helping them feel empowered and equipped to fund ministry with clarity and confidence.

Mark Meyer (Director of Business Development, The Unstuck Group) facilitates strategy to help churches get “Unstuck.” He believes the Church and businesses can learn a lot from each other and thrives on maximizing team performance and culture.

Leaning Into Your Call

A strong sense of call, as a lay leader, church staff member, or pastor, is vital in leading people through times of uncertainty, division, conflict and change. That is as true today as it was for Abraham, Samuel, Esther, Jonah, Mary Magdalene, and the Beloved Disciple. We will reconsider these biblical characters’ call stories, in light of the current climate in the UMC, in order to help you identify and strengthen your own call and work in leading the church into a more inclusive future.





Susan Robb

Susan Robb is the Senior Associate Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas. She has participated in Texas Methodist Foundations peer group for Executive Pastors/Directors for eight years. She earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.  In her teaching ministry, she explores the idea of listening to and responding to God’s call. Susan is the author of Called: Hearing and Responding to God’s Voice. She is married to Ike, and they have two children, Caroline and James.

Unleashing the Word

Offered in the AM Session Only

Senior Pastor Adam Hamilton will unpack the ideas presented in his book Unleashing the Word – Preaching with Relevance, Purpose and Passion. Sermon ideas will be presented to provide sermons for two years, including sermons for weddings and funerals and ideas for Advent and Christmas. This intensive workshop will cover: how to develop a preaching plan, the three critical ingredients of a sermon, designing a sermon series for “fishing expeditions,” writing the sermon, the role of the worship planning team and using video in worship. During the second part of this workshop, pastors will have the opportunity to develop their own sermon plan.

Adam Hamilton

Adam Hamilton is the founding pastor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. The church began in 1990 with four people and a dream of creating a congregation where thinking people – non-religious and nominally religious people – would become committed followers of Jesus Christ. In the years since, the church has become the largest United Methodist Church with over 20,000 members and an average weekend worship attendance of 10,000. Adam is the author of over 25 books, including Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times and Making Sense of the Bible. He has been married to LaVon since 1982. They have two daughters and one granddaughter.

Reckless Love: Jesus’ Call to Love Our Neighbors

In this time of tension and uncertainty in the church and our world, the Great Commandment to love God, neighbor and self provides a way for congregations to come together. Reckless Love is a platform for a conversation not only about the content of Jesus’ teaching, but the people his disciples met and the places he took them on the journey. The Great Commandment is the starting point for pastors and churches who are asking what it means to be Jesus people at this time.

Tom Berlin

Tom Berlin serves as Lead Pastor of Floris UMC, a multi-site congregation with vital mission partnerships in Northern Virginia and around the globe. He believes in the value of our connectional church and cares deeply about its vitality and unity. His recent books include Restored: Finding Redemption in our Mess and Reckless Love: Jesus’ Call to Love Our Neighbor. Tom serves as Chair of the Board of Governors for Wesley Theological Seminary and was a member of the UMC’s Commission on a Way Forward.

The Bible and Human Sexuality: A Hermeneutic of Love

Offered in the PM Session Only

This workshop explores a sixfold biblical hermeneutic that informs the ways we view life in general and human sexuality in particular. This biblical hermeneutic provides a basis for a progressive view of LGBTQ+ sexuality.

Steve Harper

Steve Harper is a retired Professor of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies, and a retired Elder in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. He has been married to Jeannie since 1970, and they are the parents of two children and three grand children. They have RV’d in their pop-up camper in all 48 continental states and in 5 Canadian provinces.

Want to Attend the Pre-Institutes?

Add to your conference learning experience by selecting Package #2 during registration. You’ll gain access to both the morning and the afternoon session of Pre-Institute on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

Lunch is included with your Pre-Institute registration.