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For Keynotes 

Finding Hope in Exhaustion

These comments were taken from anonymous feedback forms in answer to the question: What about the conversation was helpful?

  • “For me, all of it was good and very helpful. It made me look at some things in a different way.” Virginia Synod

  • “The validation of emotions I have been feeling and how to work through them in a healthy way.” Southeastern Synod

  • “The conversational nature of the webinar, the content of the presentation.” Pacifica Synod

  • “The content was rich, thoughtful and intriguing.” North Carolina Synod

  • “Enlightening – seems like it could help our congregation understand each other better.” Southwest California Synod

For Workshops

Strategic Planning

Thank God for Pastor Marj Funk-Pihl. Too often churches go it alone and they don't feel their work is fruitful. Pastor Marj helps clarify purpose and build an engaging space where every voice is heard. We got results and actionable ideas. Who would not like a partner like that?   

Pastor Kevin Bergeson, Trinity Lutheran Church, Hawthorne CA

These comments were taken from anonymous feedback forms in answer to the question: What about the conversation was helpful? Synods often combine to host these workshops.

From the Alaska, Pacifica and Southwest California Synods:

“I like the appreciative inquiry process because it leads to adaptive change rather than a technical change. It is different than traditional strategic planning with its spirit of experimentation with the innovation team.”

“Very OPEN to considering everyone's responses! What a treat!”


From the North Carolina, Southeastern and Virginia Synods:

“You modeling a process that can get people out of discouragement to new hope.”

“I was surprised that I enjoyed the interview process (I don't usually).”

“I was surprised that I really feel better at this point.”


From the Southwest Pennsylvania Synod

“I really thought the whole thing was helpful!”

“I thought the 20-minute 1:1s would be too much, but it was great.”

Motivating the Exhausted

For the Congregational Vitality Process

From the Rev Dr. R. Guy Erwin, Ph.D.  President of United Lutheran Seminary and Bishop Emeritus of the Southwest California Synod.

“Every congregation who has participated has benefitted from this process. 

The Living the Resurrection program is designed for congregations to assess, strategize and develop their “vitality” broadly construed: as faithful believers; as a welcoming congregation; and as good neighbors and partners in their communities. The power of God through the Holy Spirit is working in and through our communities of the faithful to deepen their faith and help them to serve their neighbor.  Every one of our congregations lives and serves through this Spirit, the same one that holds our whole church together.  But we know that congregations, as human organizations are challenged by the changes that time has brought to the communities in which they are embedded and by social forces that make active church membership less important in many people’s lives. Some of our congregations struggle to make ends meet with the members they have; most remember better days. And some, who still have the resources and energy for transformation, are experimenting with avenues for revitalization. 

Think about the strengths and sense of mission of the congregations in your care and then ask yourself “Is it time to start Living the Resurrection?”

Quotes from Congregations who completed the process.

We used to think we were dying. Now we have hope. The seeds we planted are beginning to sprout.


We used to think that fellowship with our members was enough. Now we know that by stepping out, we are enriched by the partnerships we are developing with our neighbors.


I was surprised! I wasn’t thinking we’d get out there and find this, but we can do some really cool things!

For the Mission Exploration Process

For the Mission Exploration Process;

It can seem a rather daunting task to gather and process inputs from across a congregation in order to discern and articulate the core values and desired direction of the members of that congregation. However, the structured mission exploration process broke that down into a sequence of manageable steps, with guidance on how to conduct each piece. From the creation of interview questions through publishing a summary report, the team felt confident in the approach and effectiveness of what we were doing. At the end of the process, the team felt very successful in discerning the values of the congregation and direction for the future.

Dave Parkinson, Mission Exploration Team member, Mt Carmel Lutheran Church, SLO, CA.

The Mission Exploration Team was formed as part of the senior pastor call process to explore possible connections for our congregation to make with its neighborhood.

The MET followed the process by:

  • Reviewing demographic information for the community,

  • Identifying ways that the congregation engages with the community in ministry,

  • Identifying institutions and agencies that align with passions of the community, and

  • Identifying assets of the congregation that can be utilized in evangelical outreach.

We were able to glean from this process what characteristics our church needed in a senior pastor. The process was an invaluable tool. We highly recommend doing the work for focus and clarity to help discern the direction for your congregation.

Ellen Brewer, President of Trinity Lutheran Church, Hawthorne, California.


As a member of the Mt. Cross Mission Exploration Team, I was glad to have a space where we could explore the church’s mission and ministry. Pr. Marj was a great help in supporting us by sharing her leadership skills.

Karen Cherry, member of Mission Exploration Team, Mt Cross Lutheran Church, Camarillo CA.

For Retreats

Hopeful Frustration

Pastor Marj created a weekend, in which participants were able to do something most of us don’t often do…get in touch with our feelings and what those feelings might be doing to us.  

In the initial session, the group defined their thoughts on what frustration and hope might look like, and participants were able to express feelings they might not have even acknowledged to themselves. Then, being able to hear others describe their feelings/emotions, helped them to recognize that others were feeling the same way. This really helped us realize that we are all going through this crazy world together.


Then we broke out into small groups (2-3s) , to share our stories of frustration. This helped us realize that we have people out there ready to “walk” with us as they are facing the same issues. Being able to verbalize this to another person really helped us to “own” how we had let these situations take control of our lives.  Next, we were able to create ideas on how we can look at what is trying to take our power, and use it to make us stronger.


I would highly recommend Pastor Marj.  And again, during these crazy times, we all need help remembering we are stronger than we may think. God gave us this ability and we need to remember and celebrate who we are.


Nancy Lejonhud Priddy MA BCIA

Women’s Retreat Coordinator, Mt Carmel Lutheran Church, San Luis Obispo CA

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