5.68: Exploring Pastoral Leadership Models: Collaborative Leadership

Discover sustainable church growth and collaborative leadership with Pastor Stephanie Williams O'Brien.

Do you find yourself wanting more people in your congregation to feel ownership of your church? Or do you want to be freed up more throughout your week to help people make spiritual meaning of their everyday life? In this episode, we will dive into how you can create a more sustainable and communal way forward for you and your faith community.

Do you wonder how to engage collaborative leadership instead of leading solo? A lot of clergy we talk to know that leading a church by themselves is unsustainable. Here’s a case study of a congregation that has experimented creatively with empowering small communities of members to love their neighbors in the name of Jesus. Today’s guest is pastor Stephanie Williams O’Brien of Mill City Church in Northeast Minneapolis. She also teaches at Bethel Seminary and is the co-host of Lead Stories podcast with Jo Saxton. You’ll want to watch this episode to learn how to equip your church to live and love in the way of Jesus.

Show Notes:


Stephanie Williams O-Brien

Stephanie Williams O'Brien

Pastor Stephanie Williams O'Brien is the Co-Lead Pastor of Mill City Church in Minneapolis. Mill City is a neighborhood-based, missional church focused on loving the city. Stephanie is also an adjunct professor of Preaching and Communication at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is Producer and Co-host of Lead Stories Podcast with fellow pastor and author, Jo Saxton. Steph is married to filmmaker JD O'Brien who shares her love for telling stories that matter. For fun, Pastor Steph enjoys paddle boarding, boxing and graphic design. She keeps herself on the move with a steady stream of cold press coffee flowing through her veins - even on the coldest of Minnesota winter days!

Meet Your Hosts

  • Alicia Granholm

    Alicia Granholm is senior director of Faith+Lead and a leadership and church consultant based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. She helps pastors and leaders engage culture to make a lasting impact. For nearly two decades, she has trained, equipped, and empowered followers of Jesus to engage their local communities by contextualizing the Gospel and its application. Alicia compassionately crosses cultural boundaries having lived, studied, traveled, and served in 25 countries on six continents. Alicia has a Doctor of Strategic Leadership, Global Consulting (Regent University), MDiv (Bethel Seminary), and MA in Teaching (University of St. Thomas).

  • Dwight Zscheile

    Dwight Zscheile is vice president of innovation and professor of congregational mission and leadership at Luther Seminary. His latest book is Leading Faithful Innovation: Following God into a Hopeful Future (with Michael Binder and Tessa Pinkstaff, Fortress Press, 2023).

Upcoming Leadership Training


Gain practical supervisory skills for effective leadership.

Upcoming Leadership Training Series


Apply the insights of Brené Brown’s work to your faithful leadership.

Upcoming Lay Leader Training Cohort


The School for Lay Ministry is Back! Reserve your spot today.

Upcoming Preaching Workshop


Address controversial topics from the pulpit with wisdom, humor, and grace.