Faith-Based Crisis Leadership Workshop

Workshop Participants

How do you respond to crisis? What’s the best way to lead during crisis?

These are some of the questions posed to faith leaders who partnered with the Office of Community and Faith Engagement at a recent Faith Based Crisis Leadership Workshop. The workshop is designed to help clergy and faith leaders develop a more proactive response when facing traumatic situations.

Bill Hardiman, director of the Office of Community and Faith Engagement, recognizes that congregations and communities often rely on faith leaders for support during difficult times. His reason for the workshop is based on meeting this need:  

“Many Michigan residents look to faith leaders for comfort and support, which is why our office finds our crisis leadership workshops necessary. We want to assist in increasing their capacity to lead in the most holistic, effective ways possible. So, these workshops are about leaders developing cutting-edge strategies to care for themselves in addition to the people they serve,” says Hardiman.

The facilitator, Bob VandePol, is a renowned expert on crisis response. He currently serves as Executive Director of the Pine Rest Mental Services’ Employee Assistance and Church Assistance programs. His presentations are thought-provoking and interactive. Through guided discussion, case scenarios, and training exercises, participants discover how crisis leadership differs from leadership in other circumstances.  They also address the risks and opportunities of crisis while identifying skills necessary to foster resilient organizations and individuals. 

Attendees often stay afterwards to personally thank staff. Most express gratitude for seeing crisis in a new way. One attendee, Pastor Doris Harris Mars of the Southeast Michigan Evangelical Lutheran Church of America’s Interim Ministers, commented that the workshop helped her articulate what happens to her emotionally and physically during moments of high stress. Another shared they were inspired to pursue developing a program for children affected by tragedy.

Hardiman attributes the workshop’s success to its audience and content. He adds, “Faith leaders are impressed with the timeliness and critical importance of the strategies they learn that will help them better serve their congregants and communities.”

The Office of Community and Faith Engagement has partnered with faith-communities across the state and hosted workshops in the Greater Detroit and Greater Grand Rapids areas, Traverse City, and Marquette. Their next regional Faith-based Crisis Leadership Workshop is scheduled for May 2-3, 2019 in Grand Rapids. Visit for updates and to register.

Article Updated March 2019