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.
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.
We provide a number of resources and materials to educate both our participants and the general public on effective leadership principles.
Interested in how PLI can impact your ministry? We'd love to get to know you and learn how we can empower your ministry.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jock & Gail Ficken
Gail and Jock 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. Gail and Jock 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 three things: her three grown sons, her grandson 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. She’s seen first-hand 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 their neighborhood. When he’s not hanging out with neighbors, Jock says he likes to cycle, read or watch the Nebraska Cornhuskers. Go RED!
Jock & Gail are available for speaking and teaching engagements. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil & Kyrie Klopke
1000 Young Leader Directors
Phil and Kyrie have been kickin’ it as a married couple for a whopping 6 years now. With a little one on the way, they are pumped to get the Klopke family rolling. Before joining the PLI team, Phil and Kyrie had the amazing opportunity to work and be part of a church plant in Southwest Florida at Thrive Community Church. They spent five years there building up community, especially at the local university, Florida Gulf Coast. Their love and passion for intentional discipleship grew during their time there, making the transition to helping build up young leaders with PLI a no brainer decision.
Being from the majestic land of Northern Wisconsin, Kyrie is naturally a fan of all things outdoors and the Green Bay Packers. With her social work degree, Kyrie has been able to witness God work in impossible ways with families and youth. Kyrie’s heart yearns for all young women to know who they are in Christ and own the strengths and gifts He’s given them. Kyrie loves spending time with her boisterous family up north, her two black labs and soaking up time with the best in-laws and sister-in-law a girl could ask for!
Phil is originally born and raised in the Chicagoland area so you might consider him a Superfan…Go Bears, Bulls, Cubs, & Blackhawks! One of his most memorable moments was seeing the Cubs in the World Series with his dad. But besides sports, Phil has a thing for good food. He is excited about living in Nashville and exploring the food scene. In his spare time, Phil enjoys embarrassing his wife and posting it on his Instagram story. Oh, and participating in adult kickball leagues, because you are never to old to play kickball!
Lori & Scott Rische
Scott and Lori Ann have been married for 33 years. They have four children and a growing number of grandchildren. They’re building frequent flyer miles as they live in the United States a portion of the year, in Shenzhen, China, a portion of the year, and travel around the world with PLI’s international learning communities.
Prior to his calling to serve at PLI, Scott served as a church planter, lead pastor and director of a church planting ministry. Scott’s passion in life is to see people come into a faith relationship with Christ, and to encourage believers to live fully in and live out their relationship with Jesus. Scott’s calling is to encourage, develop, and mentor leaders for Christ’s Church. He’s also not afraid of heights…Scott has his private pilot license and enjoys being up in the air.
Lori enjoys encouraging and blessing women as they partner with their husbands and faithfully lead. She passes on her passion and love of learning from a 30 plus year education career to those she works with. Seeing families and children grow in knowledge is the real joy of the job! Apart from her job Lori says she has three loves: to be with her children and grandchildren, being outdoors with Scott and getting crafty.
Systems & Finance Leader
Matt leads PLI’s financial and systems infrastructure. Before joining PLI, Matt helped establish and lead the data science team at brightpeak financial. He also brings experience from his years spent working in the fundraising and banking industries. Matt and several members of The WHEREhouse experienced PLI first-hand by joining the inaugural D2MC in 2014.
Outside of work, Matt helped plant theAlley church and later The WHEREhouse where he served as Congregation President and elder. Growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, Matt is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and enjoys watching them whenever he can! When it’s no longer baseball season, Matt is probably meditating on the quote by John Muir “The mountains are calling and I must go…” …skiing!
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 an eleven-year veteran in the field of Advancement and has her CFRE certification. It is safe to say that Teri and her husband, Van, are always up for an adventure. In their 32-year marriage they have lived in California, New York, Texas, Illinois, Tennessee and back to Texas! Teri and her husband Van are the parents of two adult children. She loves listening to her husband play guitar. You can find them hosting guitar jam night in their home. It’s a great way to build relationships with people outside their church circle. Rock on Teri!
D2MC Coaching & Content Leader
After several years of coaching and teaching for PLI’s Discipleship to Missional Community, Erin has joined forces with Gail to bring out the best of D2MC coaching and content. “It’s an honor to walk alongside others as they recognize God’s movement in their lives and respond in big and small ways that result in wins for the kingdom.”
Fa la la la. Be warned, walking into the West family home is like walking into a musical, as her husband Brian and their two daughters are never without a song. Whether it’s sledding, leaf jumping or backyard barbecues, the West family enjoys inviting neighbors and friends into their own personal crazy. “It’s about families coming together, growing together and sharing both the joys and sorrows of life.”
Leadership Essentials Coaching & Content Leader
Diane is passionate about seeing women and men grow into the leaders God is calling them to be in their unique context. She has experienced all of the PLI learning communities as a participant, coach, or team member, including two international learning communities. “What an encouragement it is to engage with brothers and sisters in Christ from all over the country and around the world who are excited about the mission of God and their part in it!”
On a local level, Diane is active in a faith community in northwest Houston, where her husband Dave serves as pastor. Together they enjoy building relationships with friends, neighbors, and hanging out with their kids and grandchildren. Games, good conversation, and a glass of good wine make for a fun evening!
Raechel brings excellent listening and discernment skills to connect people into the right learning community. We asked Raechel what her favorite part of the job is… “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, Raechel, we couldn’t agree more.
At home, Raechel loves family dinners. She plans them late in the evening when her husband, P.Jay and 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 and friends join in. Raechel and P.Jay serve together at a church in the western suburbs of Chicago and are blessed to be among an incredible group of people who seek to follow Jesus together!
Chances are you’ve spoken to Sarah. As the office administrator she’s eager to serve you and make your #pliexperience 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 and family. They’re blessed with three children, and as her “Mom’s Taxi Service” keychain implies, much of her time is spent carpooling kids from one activity to the next. Several times a week Sarah plays tennis but only allows her competitive streak to come out when playing couple’s tennis on Friday evenings. Yea Sarah!
Gee Sarah, as she is referred to in the office, gets to tell the PLI story. She oversees and manages the website, social media sites and helps plan and implement the communications strategy. 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 always wanted to live in town and have 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 them enjoying wine, cheese and bocce with neighbors. Go Team Greiner!
Systems & Finance
Jim brings expertise in grant writing, organizational development and strategic direction to the PLI team. Before PLI, Jim served as executive director at Camp Luther in Wisconsin and had roles at several other faith-based non profits.
He and his wife, Janalee, live in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he is an avid mushroom hunter! Yum. 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.
European Development Leader
Artis and his wife Helena reside in Latvia. Under their leadership the learning community in Latvia has thrived. As the European Development Director for PLI, Artis provides leadership throughout northern Europe, the Baltics, Russia, and Scandinavia. Artis also serves as pastor in a local congregation, is part of the leadership of Luther Academy in Riga and is active in his local city of Cesis, leading the River Bend Ministry Center. In the past he has served as the administrative leader of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia.
Board of Directors
Reverend Ronald D. Burcham
Reverend Aaron Rosenau
Lynn E. Henry
Reverend Dr. Robert D. Newton
Reverend Dr. Yared Halche