Lead UP

According to the most recent “Clergy Trends” study by the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, the average age of Elders in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church is 57; the mode age was 60. Over the next decade, new ministry challenges and the retirement of many leaders will create significant leadership needs in this annual conference. The LEAD UP initiative is a yearlong process designed to help clergy leaders with over 15 years of ministry remaining set up their capacity for leadership in new, missional and challenging assignments. This initiative does not promise a next-level appointment, but rather, creates an intentional leadership development strategy and succession plan.


LEAD UP is an intentional leadership development initiative designed to strengthen fruitful congregational leadership in the Indiana Conference. Over the course of 12 months, participants will:

  • engage in five retreat gatherings, accompanied with four online development opportunities;
  • complete a variety of assessments that will help provide a robust portrait of individual leadership gifts and challenges;
  • study the tasks of leadership and build capacity for strategic and intentional leadership;
  • assess and improve their skills in the areas of mission and vision, leading change and conflict, cultivation of congregational generosity, talent development and community engagement;
  • enjoy the counsel and support of executive leadership coach;
  • cultivate strong peer relationships;
  • develop a clear plan for ongoing learning and growth;
  • and reflect theologically on the nature of personal and congregational leadership.

With LEAD UP, clergy who have 15 years of potential remaining service to the church have the opportunity to develop their capacity for leadership. This is an opportunity to be guided in an intentional process of leadership formation and development.

Expectations for Participation

Thanks to the generous support of Indiana Conference tithing congregations, selected 15 applicants will participate in the full initiative at a substantially reduced cost. Tuition costs cover: program materials, instructional costs, program administration, accommodations and coaching fees.

Tuition for the program is $1,500 plus all travel expenses. Congregational support for these expenses is encouraged.

Because the program makes significant financial and other resource investment in its participants, it is necessary for attendees to make the following commitments:

  • pledge to attend all sessions in their entirety for the full length of the program (twelve months);
  • complete all assessments, reading and writing assignments;
  • maintain an openness to learning and feedback on leadership and the arts of ministry;
  • engage their congregations in their learning and development;
  • at the direction of the bishop and the Cabinet, serve a missional placement in the annual conference that enhances the opportunity for development;
  • and cover their responsibilities at home and to the congregation during program sessions.

Admissions Criteria

LEAD UP is open to;

  • all elders serving a faith community in the Indiana Conference
  • at least fifteen years of potential remaining service to the church
  • endorsement by the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee
  • demonstrated history of fruitful ministry
  • commitment to confidentiality
  • able to cover the participation cost and all travel expenses.

The initiative is open to 15 participants per year.


The LEAD UP will begin January 2017. Retreats for LEAD UP will be held at retreat centers throughout the Indiana Conference.

Session I

January 18-20, 2017

Embracing God’s Call to Authentic Leadership: Understanding Yourself as a Leader

Session II
March 8, 2017 Seeing Ourselves as Others See Us
Session III April 4-5, 2017

Leading Strategically: Guiding a Congregation through Mission and Vision

Session IV

May 25, 2017

The Mystery of Alignment: Getting Everyone On the Same Page

 Reading  Assignment July 2017 What Drives Change?
Session V August 29-31, 2017 Leading Change and Conflict
Session VI October 3-4, 2017 Building a Better System: Identifying and Growing Talent in the Church and Development Ongoing Capacity

Session VII
(online with peer group)

November 2, 2017

Community Engagement: Ministry in the Public Square


Session VIII

November 29--30, 2017

Stewardship and Growing a Culture of Generosity and Celebration

To Apply

Potential participants must complete the application by December 15, 2016. Following review by Director of Leadership Development and Cabinet, select applicants will be notified of specific details. All LEAD UP fees must be paid no later than January 5, 2017. Click here for the application.

Program Leadership

Participants in LEAD UP will have the opportunity to learn from a variety of leading pastors and community leaders from across the country. To support and encourage significant development, Reverend Janice Virtue, leadership consultant and educator, will serve as the program guide. Janice has 20 years of experience designing programs for learning and development for the church’s clergy. A United Methodist elder, Janice is wholly committed to providing willing learners in this program with a variety of experiences designed to foster courageous leadership and wise management within a Christ-centered mission.