Learn


PLI is devoted to empowering pastors, spouses and other church leaders for wider influence for the sake of the gospel in their communities and effective leadership in their congregations. Learn more about our vision and process here.

Connect


Life is better connected. Connect with others to experience life-giving community and build authentic relationships. We have several learning communities. Find the best fit for you.

Grow


We provide a number of resources and materials to educate both our participants and the general public on effective leadership principles.

Join


Interested in how PLI can impact your ministry? We'd love to get to know you and learn how we can empower your ministry.

Our Story

Who We Are

Partnering with God in building leaders with a Kingdom Vision.

Training and investing in multiplying missional leaders. That’s what PLI does.

We invest in pastors, spouses and church leaders by building empowering relationships where confidence and courage is born. PLI’s learning happens in these relationships.

Training happens at the intersection of leadership, discipleship and mission. We transform and equip leaders to lead change and to grow and multiply more missional leaders.

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PLI’s purpose is to help leaders, like you, revive your understanding and application of the Great Commission in your local context.  The result is discipleship lived out in vibrant communities. By God’s guiding, families and congregations are empowered to make deeper connections with non-believers, loving and leading as Jesus did. The result is wider influence for the sake of the Gospel.

Hundreds of pastors and spouses in the United States and 12 countries worldwide have been led to lead through the PLI Experience. The unique blend of couples learning together in PLI’s encouraging and accountable coaching environment results in distinctive leadership development. The PLI Experience changes lives and builds up the character of leaders to boldly reach the lost for Christ.

Our Strategy

Where leaders go to become multiplying missional leaders.

PLI believes that for leaders and churches to courageously represent Jesus and advance a fruitful church, women and men need highly supportive, intentional learning communities that provide leadership development, hope, direction, problem-solving and practical steps of implementation for each individual context.  

Learning communities are the heart of PLI and center around three components: Immersions, Coaching and Clusters.

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Immersions  PLI believes that gaining confidence and courage to lead happens in community.  PLI’s immersions are vibrant communities where fear and isolation are defeated through an experiential learning process.  

 

Coaching  PLI believes that in order to sustain growth and back home implementation, leaders need accountability and encouragement. Ongoing and regular coaching between each immersion gives leaders a place to build deeper connections and experience breakthrough.  

 

Clusters  We train and invest in leaders to start and lead out communities and clusters of people on mission. PLI believes that leaders and congregations will have a wider influence as clusters of people are invited into the learning journey and empowered to enter new places with the Good News. 

 

Our Team

Jock & Gail Ficken

Leaders

Jock and Gail lead PLI.  This special and unique partnership is a huge blessing to the organization.  As a ministry team, they deeply understand both the promise and the challenge that ministry offers a marriage. Jock and Gail spent 25 years pastoring and partnering to lead a Chicago-area congregation. Jock served as senior pastor while Gail served on the leadership staff, overseeing adult and small group ministries.

Gail is a certified life and leadership coach. Her heart lies in two things: her three grown sons and relationships with people far from Jesus.  She finds herself drawn to their stories and is curious about how God is working in their lives.  Gail has seen first-hand in her neighborhood how Jesus opens places and spaces for her to share the gospel message. If you were to ask Gail where her favorite place is, she’d say the beach. She even spent a summer break waitressing at night so she could spend her days soaking in the rays. We like your style, Gail.

Jock grew up on a farm in Nebraska working alongside his dad where he learned honesty, integrity, work ethic and the color red…Go Huskers! He brings that learning along with leadership experience from his role as a former vice president at the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. Jock says the best part about leading PLI is seeing leaders experience breakthrough.  Jock experienced his big breakthrough during his senior pastor days when he realized he had been asking the wrong question.  “For most of our years we drove out of our neighborhood to church to do ministry. We asked, ‘how do we get people into our building where things happen?’.  It was a big surprise for me that most folks in our community didn’t have going to church on their list of priorities.” It was then that Jock and Gail decided to function as neighborhood missionaries and bring God’s restoring work to the families they live next to. When he’s not hanging out with neighbors, Jock says he like to cycle, read or watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Go RED!

Jock & Gail are available for speaking and teaching engagements.

Jim Yagow

Systems & Finance

Jim manages PLI’s financial and administrative infrastructure and provides leadership for organizational development and strategic direction. Before his role at PLI Jim served as executive director at Camp Luther in Wisconsin. He also brings experience from his roles at several other faith-based non profits, including Thrivent Financial and Lutheran World Relief.

He and his wife, Janalee, live in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he is an avid mushroom hunter! Together they have four adult children, and five very spoiled-adorable grandchildren. Known for bursting into song during morning devotions, Jim always has a tune no matter the occasion. Besides singing and playing the guitar, he’s passionate about the Green Bay Packers.

Teri Rice

Donor Engagement

As Donor Engagement Leader, Teri has a passion for a mission-driven church and loves helping followers of Jesus uncover the unique gift plan God has placed in their heart. Teri is a seven-year veteran in the field of Advancement serving at a Christian school in Texas and in the LCMS Northern Illinois District. She also has her CFRE certification.

It is safe to say that Teri and her husband, Van, are always up for an adventure. In their 29-year marriage they have lived in California, New York, Texas, Illinois and will soon be moving to Tennessee. Teri and her husband Van are the parents of two adult children. Her favorite kind of music is guitar played by her husband. At their house in Texas they hosted guitar jam nights. It was a great way to build relationships with people outside their church circle. Teri and Van plan to use these gatherings to get to know their new neighbors in Nashville, a fitting place for guitar jam nights!

Diane Bahn

Leadership Essentials Coordinator

She just can’t get enough of PLI! Over the years Diane has engaged with PLI from many angles—first as a participant with her husband David, later leading the women’s program. She has also done coaching, served on the PLI International teams and now is part of the PLI Leadership Essentials team. Diane says, “It’s a great community of learners and leaders”.

Coming from a small Midwest town, Diane never dreamed that she would come to know people all over the country and many around the world. Working at PLI has allowed her to experience all the flavors, textures and varieties in the Body of Christ. She serves a faith community alongside her husband Dave in northwest Houston. When they’re not serving you may find them playing with the grandkids, enjoying a glass of wine with friends or watching British TV… and that’s jolly good, mate.

Raechel Pfotenhauer

Connections

As Leader for PLI Connections, Raechel brings excellent listening and discernment skills to connect people into the right learning community. When you ask Raechel what her favorite part of the job is she’d say… “talking with people from all over the country – from Alaska and Hawaii to New York and Florida! It’s exciting to hear how God is at work in the body of Christ throughout this nation.” Yes, Reachel, we couldn’t agree more.

At home Raechel loves family dinners. She plans them late in the evening when P.Jay, her husband, and her kids are finally home. That way there’s plenty of time to linger over candlelight and long conversation. She considers it a bonus when the neighborhood teenagers join in.

Sarah Oestermeyer

Administration

Sarah Oestermeyer has the office running smooth and efficient. Prior to PLI, Sarah spent six years at a mutual fund company working in the marketing department. Sarah is always eager to serve others and to make the entire PLI experience a pleasant one. She believes in the importance of fellowship and fun in the office, and says PLI strikes a wonderful balance.

There’s no place like home, and Sarah certainly hasn’t traveled far from hers. She and her husband, Jon, both grew up four miles from their current home and enjoy being surrounded by friends from all stages of their lives. They’ve been blessed with three children and as her “Mom’s Taxi Service” keychain implies, much of her time is spent carpooling and getting kiddos from one activity to the next. Several times a week Sarah plays tennis with neighborhood friends, but only allows her competitive streak to come out when playing couple’s tennis on Friday evenings. Go Sarah!

Sarah Greiner

Communications

Gee Sarah, as she is referred to in the office, gets to tell the PLI story. As communications leader she oversees and manages the website, helps plan and implement the communications strategy and gets paid to be on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Yeah, we just said that. The best part of her job is being surrounded by a great team of Jesus followers who live out the missional life every day.

As a child growing up in the country, Sarah dreamed of living in town and having neighbors. God blessed her with just that when she and her husband, Micah, were called to serve at a church in the northwest suburbs of Chicagoland.  Together with their two children they are making connections and enjoying people in their neighborhood. On weekends you can find her and her family enjoying wine, cheese and bocce with neighbors. Her biggest learning through being on mission in her neighborhood…it just takes time; trust that Jesus is moving.

Board of Directors

Reverend Ronald D. Burcham

Reverend Aaron Rosenau

Lynn E. Henry

Reverend Dr. Robert D. Newton

Paul J. Schutes

John McGinty

Harold Tyreman

Rebeka Cook