Vital Leadership Academy

The Vital Leadership Academy (VLA) is a selective, six-month leadership development program for lay people. The VLA is designed to identify, inspire, train, and support people who are new to leadership so that they can partner with clergy to lead positive change in local congregations. It is directed toward those who are not yet established leaders in their church but have greater leadership potential. The program consists of three main parts: large group retreats, small group gatherings, and engagement with personal spiritual practices.

  • Large Group Retreats
    • The entire cohort of roughly forty participants gathers for four, one-night retreats in Glen Rose, TX. Each retreat consists of worship, teaching, and reflection centered around a leadership-related theme such as gifts, strategic planning, leading change, or conflict resolution. Each retreat starts on a Friday evening and dismisses Saturday in the late afternoon. The dates for 2019-20 are:
      • Nov. 8-9, 2019 -- Discovery
      • Jan. 10-11, 2020 -- Direction
      • Feb. 21-22, 2020 -- Development
      • Apr. 3-4, 2020 -- Deploy
  • Small Group Gatherings
    • Each cohort is subdivided into groups of six to eight that meet once between each retreat for about two hours. These gatherings establish a community of peers who can help each other translate leadership principles into their particular contexts. During each meeting, participants engage in spiritual study, reflection, and prayer. In addition, participants discuss a pair of practical case studies that they read and reflect on before the meeting.
  • Spiritual Practices
    • During the program, participants covenant to engage in daily spiritual practices including personal Bible study and prayer.

Pastors and district superintendents are encouraged to nominate potential participants from their congregations who will then apply for a spot in the program. People may self-nominate, but their pastor must provide a recommendation. The Central Texas Conference covers about half of the program expenses. For the remainder, each participant pays $100 in tuition, and his or her local church contributes $100. Housing (double-occupancy) and meals for the four retreats is included. Participants are responsible for their own transportation. Applications for 2019-20 are open! If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Kevin Walters (