Pastoral Leadership - Best Practices for Church Leaders

 In this practical, visionary, and accessible book, veteran teacher, author, and parish leader Dan Ebener explores what it takes to lead in a Catholic parish. He contends that anyone can lead change in a parish—with or without positional authority.

The premise of this book is that the Church needs leadership. In most places, the Church is over-managed and under-led. To turn this around, we need clergy to:

  1. Provide more leadership and less management themselves.

  2. Develop the leadership potential of the laity.

We need lay people to step up to lead and to manage. If the Church is to become more alive, we need lay people to step up and lead change as well.

On the management side, we need clergy to step back and lay people to step up. On the leadership side, we need lay people who can lead without authority and clergy who can lead from a position of authority. Readers of this book—seminarians, priests, deacons, and lay leaders—will find this book enlightening and useful in their approach to parish leadership.


"Given the challenges facing the Church today, developing leaders has to be a major priority.  This book will be a big help to anyone willing to step up and lead."  

- Archbishop Michael Jackels, Archdiocese of Dubuque 

“Whether you serve on the parish council, assist with youth ministry, or coordinate the soup kitchen, you’ll discover Pastoral Leadership will help you grow as a parish leader. Among the highlights in this book, discover how to run a meeting, manage change and conflict, and engage in pastoral planning. Use this as a guidebook on your journey as a parish leader to help your faith community thrive and advance the gospel mission.”

- Kim Smolik, Ed.D., CEO, Leadership Roundtable on Church Management

“Dan Ebener is a master teacher.  Using his highly honed leadership skills, he brings pastoral leaders a tool box of “how to” ways to build the vision of hope and excitement for the future.  I highly recommend this book.”  

- Msgr. Jim Lang, Episcopal Vicar for Parishes, Diocese of Syracuse

“Dan Ebener helps us understand the many dimensions of servant leadership.  His experience and knowledge shine through as he produces a manual for anyone who seeks to lead others in the name of Jesus Christ.”  

- Tracy Welliver, Director of Parish Community and Engagement, LPi

 “As a pastoral planner and leadership trainer, I have been looking for a book like this for many years.  It offers tools for pastoral leaders, is well-grounded in church theology and spirituality, relate-able to parish ministry and readable.  I highly recommend it.”

- Mark Mogilka, Senior Consultant, Meitler Pastoral Planning

 “Dan’s book draws from neuroscience, sociology, psychology, business, and religion to share a blueprint for effective leadership. It presents tools for leading parishes through the change needed to help the Church to grow in the 21st century.”  

- Brian Neibrugge, Executive Director, Stewardship, Archdiocese of St. Louis