The workshops at the 2022 Leadership Academy included:

First Things First: Three Financial Essentials for the New Church Planter

with Dee Long and Rev. Aaron Smith

This LEADLab session offered by Pension Fund of the Christian Church is to help the new church planter on the road to financial wellness. Pension Fund offers several tools that the church planter will find helpful such as a new church pension, parental leave, and Your Money Line for example. At the end of this session, the attendee will be equipped with practical next steps to prepare for their financial future.

Dee Long, Pension Fund Area Director, holds a B.A. in Communications from the University of Memphis and is a graduate of Rutledge College. She is an Elder of the National Convocation. She previously served as a DCEF Congregational Services Consultant. Dee has served on numerous boards throughout the church and developed connections including Southeast Regions; Church of Christ-Disciples of Christ; and the network of Disciples Women.

Rev. Aaron Smith, Pension Fund Area Director, holds a B.A. from Indiana University Bloomington and is a graduate of the University of Chicago Divinity School and Disciples Divinity House. He also holds a Certificate in Public Management from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He was ordained in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in 2015. After accepting a call to ministry, he served as Director of Evangelism at Light of the World Christian Church.

“In the Beginning”: Building and Leading Communities with Creation and Neighbors in Mind

with Scott Hardin-Nieri

How can you and your congregation build the Realm of God within and among and still find joy in the work of justice, climate, and ministry? Green Chalice has been serving congregations for over a decade and has seen how creation care and faithful work for justice can create more vitality in churches, businesses, and homes. This workshop will explore ways to weave creation care into newer congregations with your unique context and community in mind. This workshop will include prayerful rituals, discernment practices, and some tangible ideas to help your community take the next steps on the creation care journey.

Scott Hardin-Nieri is the Director and Minister of Bethany Congregations and Co-Minister of Green Chalice. Scott is an ordained Disciples pastor and enjoys accompanying people during transformative experiences. This work is an expression of love and spirit as he becomes aware of the connections among pollution, climate change, and the world’s spiritual brokenness.

Cutting Costs without Cutting Corners: Starting a Church on a Dime and Using the Lean-Start Method

with Rachel Nance Woehler and Jose Martinez

Find practical ideas and inspiration for how to start lean and develop a new church with minimal funding. 

Lean Startup provides a scientific approach to creating and managing startups. A core component of the Lean Startup methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. In the pandemic-informed age, this is vital for the start of a new faith community. Join Jose Martinez as we dive into the methodology and how you could use it for your ministry context.

Then, Rachel Nance Woehler will share the stewardship story of Potluck Church and offer ways to discover free or low-cost resources to support and spread your new ministry movement. 

Rev. Rachel Nance Woehler is a co-convener of Potluck Church in Madisonville, Kentucky as well as a co-convener of the KY region’s New Church Ministry Team and a new church planter trained through New Church Ministry’s Leadership Academy. She also serves as the West Area Regional Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in KY. Rachel was ordained in 2001 after graduating from Transylvania University (BA of Arts in Religion) and Vanderbilt University Divinity School (Masters of Divinity). Started in 2013, Potluck Church is a micro-sized dinner church. 

Jose Martinez serves as the Minister of New Church Strategies. He also created StoryWagen as an Incubate participant with the National Benevolent Association. Additionally, he is co-planter of Multi Nation Christian Church and MissioKC Church. Co-vocationally, he is a chaplain at the 139th Airlift Wing in St. Joseph, MO and a chaplain with Truman Medical Center in Kansas City, MO.  

The 4 Ps of LGBTQ+ Affirmation: Policy, Practice, Proclamation, and Publicity

with Sara Nave Fisher

Sometimes congregations have *some* pieces of inclusion in place, but when others are lacking, we can unintentionally harm or dismiss some of God’s beloved. We’ll talk about how to be sure the Four Ps of affirmation align, so that we can spread the love of God both inside and outside our walls!

Sara (she/her) is an ordained pastor in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and currently living in Columbia, South Carolina. Sara is passionate about empowering pastors to lead from a place of creative imagination and proactivity, and making congregations safe and inclusive for all people. You can read more about her at