Forums, Workshops & Retreats with

Bishop Mike or Pastor Liz

We thank God for you, for your faithfulness in responding to God’s call to be leaders in your congregation. It is a good call, but not always an easy one. Knowing this, God sends the Holy Spirit who brings us together as synod, as church together.  You and I are not alone in this!

Some of the ways we can encourage each other is through shared learning, inspired conversations, and dedicated space for listening to God’s direction. Recognizing this, we (Bishop Mike and Pastor Liz) after many conversations with congregation leaders in the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod, are offering to lead forums, workshops, and retreats designed to build up the ministry of your members and congregation.

Enclosed is a list of forums, workshops, and retreats that we are excited to offer your congregation or cluster.  If you would like to explore a topic not mentioned, please reach out to one of us. One of benefits of being part of a small synod is that we can tailor make our resources.

We’d like to thank you. One, thank you for the ministry you are doing – we can’t all reach out in Christian love where you are, you do that on behalf of the whole Church. Two, thank you for inviting us into partnership with you; it is a joy to preach, lead worship, and enter into deep conversations about life and ministry!  Lastly, thank you for the ways you faithfully support the ministry we do together as the Arkansas-Oklahoma Synod. It is the financial support of the congregations of our synod that make it possible for us to travel, to be with you, and to offer these workshops, forums, and retreats free of charge!

Please consider inviting each of us to preach, worship, and lead a forum, workshop or retreat.  


Bishop Mike


Pastor Becca

Three formats for engaging a topic, conversation or issue:


45 -90 minutes

An introduction and taste --

Great for before or after worship on Sundays


2-4 hours/half day

A chance to dig a little deeper



1-2 days


A relaxed time for more comprehensive engagement 

Possible Topics

Building up our congregation

  • Church Council Development. Set aside time for church leaders to focus on team building, goal setting, strategic planning and leadership. Healthy congregations have clear communication and decision-making structures. This interactive time together helps councils better understand their role as the spiritual leaders of the congregation, provides space for imagine ministry for today, and builds up the council as a team. (Best in a retreat or workshop format)
  • Embracing God’s Future without Forgetting the Past. A conversation about grief, loss, nostalgia and congregational life. Most congregations can remember a time in the past when there were families and children in full pews. We will learn how to work through our grief over the loss of the “glory days” and learn how we can draw strength, courage and vision for the future from our memories of days gone by. (Based on Bishop Mike’s recently published book!)
  • Creative Tension. Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, there will be differences of opinion, disagreement and a diversity of perceptions and experiences. Guaranteed. The question is not whether or not there is conflict in congregational life, but how we work through the inevitable conflicts that arise and use them creatively to strengthen and grow our ministries.
  • Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Inquiry was first developed in the business world to help companies grow and thrive. Rather than focus on fixing problems, appreciative inquiry builds on strengths. These principles for positive change have been applied to churches and ministries to good effect. This workshop will introduce you to the process of appreciative inquiry and teach you how to use these principles to build up your ministry.
  • Holy Space. Worship is part of who we are as people of God. What are small and big things we can do to make worship more meaningful for those who might not look forward to worship.
  • From Ideas to Action. This is the beginning, the “sketch on a napkin” time for imagining the Church God wants you to be! We will draw out the wisdom, creativity and unique skills of your team and congregation; explore what God is inviting you to be about; and develop the beginnings of a 3-6 month plan. You will leave energized and with the first concrete steps of a plan.

Building up the faith of our members and community

  • Grief and Growth. Learn more about the grief process and how we can work through our experiences of loss in healthy ways that can lead to personal growth.
  • Listening For God Through Contemplative Prayer. Learn and experience forms of listening prayer. Contemplative prayer can teach us to quiet the mind, calm our spirits and listen for the still small voice of God in the midst of all the noise and hectic activity that fills our daily lives.
  • Loving God. How do you go about loving God? Here’s a chance to practice a few spiritual practices and imagine how you might try them in your everyday life.
  • Being Lutheran in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. A conversation on what makes Lutherans distinctive and how to talk about your faith at work, with neighbors, and around town.
  • Peace-Making: the art of mediation & reconciliation. Practice and learn skills that will help you listen in a way that brings better understanding and builds trust.

Building up our neighborhood, community, and world

  • Unpacking the Invisible Napsack. A workshop experience that helps us look at our lives in terms of race and privilege. This is an interactive conversation, not a lecture.
  • Anthropologists, Tourists & Missionaries – three ways to engage your community. We know that we should know our neighbors and work with them to do God’s work in our communities. We know it is important, but actually doing it can hard to imagine. Where do we start? This is an opportunity to try some experiments and learn together.
  • I Am Not Your Negro or Traces of the Trade. Viewing & Conversation. Choose one of these filming dealing with race in the United States. Together we will explore the themes, deepen our own understanding, and have candid conversation about race.