The Bush Center

Emerging Christian Leadership Conference

February 29 – March 1, 2024

Christian schools and organizations around the world are seeking new leaders to step in to make an impact in their communities. The retirement of many leaders points to the need for more inexperienced leaders to step forward in the next generation. The Emerging Christian Leadership Conference was born out of a recognition of the need and a willingness to take action. Leadership is needed at all levels within schools, including teacher leadership, coordinator, and administrative roles, and extending to senior leadership roles. The need is clear and present. The Emerging Christian School Leadership Conference prepares future leaders to level up by equipping participants to fill needed roles most effectively. 
Whether you are a classroom teacher that aspires to move into teacher leader roles such as a Department Chair, have aspirations to move into administrative roles such as coordinator or program director, or desire to be a senior level administrator or head of school in the future, the Emerging Christian Leadership Conference is designed to enhance your skillset and provide training needed for your next steps. While leaders of all ages and experiences are welcome, this event is a two-day focused training for leaders who want to level up their leadership and gain practical ways to increase their impact through greater leadership skill development. The focus is on school leaders, but the skills are transferable to leadership in other Christian organizations and communities. This conference will be a focused learning experience to engage participants intensely over a short window to impact daily practices and bigger-picture perspectives.
Dr. Jay Ferguson, Dr. Matt Thomas, and other experienced leaders will provide insight and practical applications of leadership practices. Breakout sessions will allow more discussion in smaller groups and provide choice for conference participants. The conference will start after lunch at 1 pm on Thursday and finish by 3:30 pm on Friday. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to impact your own leadership or share with someone from your school that you want to see develop their leadership.

About the Conference

List of 3 items.

  • Conference Scholarship Details

    We strongly believe that everyone deserves equal opportunities, and financial constraints should not be a hindrance to anyone's aspirations. Therefore, we are pleased to offer limited scholarships to those who may be in need. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is January 10th, so we encourage all interested candidates to apply as soon as possible.

    Click here for the Scholarship Application.
  • Conference Topics

    • Pastoral Leadership for Christian School Leaders
    • Pipelines to Leadership
    • Managing Conflict and Difficult Conversations
    • Building Self-Awareness & Emotional Intelligence
    • Leadership Behaviors
    • Protocols and Frameworks To Lead Efficiently & Effectively
    • Preparing Yourself to Lead Others
    • Building Teams
  • Schedule of Events

    This event is a two-day focused training for leaders who want to level up their leadership and gain practical ways to increase their impact through greater leadership skill development. The conference will start after lunch on Thursday (with an optional Thursday morning session) and finish by 3:30 on Friday. 

    Click here to view the 2024 ECLC Schedule. 

Conference Speakers

List of 5 items.

  • Dr. Jay Ferguson, Featured Speaker

    Jay Ferguson, J.D., Ph.D. has been the Head of School at Grace Community School in Tyler, Texas, for over fifteen years. Under his leadership, the school achieved Blue Ribbon Exemplary status in 2015 and 2017. Jay is also an adjunct professor at several colleges, including Covenant College, Gordon College, and Dallas Baptist University, and recently served on the adjunct faculties of the Van Lunen Center at Calvin College and at Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. He holds leadership positions in the education sector; currently, he serves as Chair-Elect of the executive board of the Association of Christian Schools International. Previous leadership positions include President of the Board of the Texas Private School Association and former Chair of the Board of the Council on Educational Standards and Accountability.
  • Dr. Matt Thomas, Featured Speaker

    Dr. Matt Thomas currently serves as the Head of School for Trinity Christian School in Fairfax County, Virginia. Thomas previously served as the Executive Director of the Center for School Leadership at Baylor University. In this role, he oversaw the operations of the Center, leading the development, strategy, planning, and coordination of programs serving more than 900 schools. Thomas has worked in education for more than 25 years. Serving in Christian K-12 schools, higher education and seminaries, the Christian nonprofit sector, and pastoral ministry, Thomas has devoted his career to serving and strengthening Christian educational institutions for the flourishing of students, faculty, and staff. Thomas earned his EdD from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, his MA in Christian Education from Azusa Pacific University, and a Bachelor of Theology from Pacific Coast Baptist Bible College.
  • Mrs. Julie Ambler, Speaker

    Julie H. Ambler has been the Head of School at The Woodlands Christian Academy since 2006. She has successfully led the school to become a leading institution in Christ-centered college preparatory education. Apart from her association with the school, Mrs. Ambler is also serving as the Chairman of the board for Summit Ministries and Chairman of the board for the Council of Educational Standards and Accountability (CESA). She is a board member of the Texas Private School Association (TPSA). Mrs. Ambler has been a member and past board member of the Rotary Club of The Woodlands, where she has been named a Paul Harris Fellow twice. She has also served as the President of the Executive Women’s Alliance (EWA). She has also served as the Past Chairman of the board for The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Montgomery County (LMC). Mrs. Ambler completed her education from The University of Texas at Austin, where she earned a B.A. and an M.B.A.
  • Dr. Brian Guenther, Speaker

    Dr. Brian N Guenther is the current President of San Marcos Academy. In May 2018, he was named Interim Academic Dean of the Academy after serving three years as Associate Academic Dean for the SMA Lower and Middle schools. Prior to joining the Academy staff, he spent eight years as Head of School and three years as music teacher and chaplain at the Master’s School of San Marcos. Additionally, he served as a teaching pastor for River Stone Community Church in San Marcos from 2004 to 2011 and as a youth and worship pastor at First Baptist Church in Kingsland, Texas for five years. Dr. Guenther is a certified superintendent, principal, and teacher. He received his Ed.D. Degree in Education, Educational Leadership, and Administration from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB). He also holds a Master of Arts in Christian Higher Education Administration from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from UMHB. Currently, he serves as President of the Accreditation Commission of the Texas Association of Baptist Schools.
  • Dr. Darren Price, Speaker

    Dr. Darren Price has been the principal at Houston Christian High School in Houston, TX, since 2015.  He is the former Head of School for Contra Costa Christian Schools in Walnut Creek, CA, and held various administrative roles during his 10-year tenure in Christian international schools in South Korea.  He has written articles or made presentations regarding leadership, technology, professional development, and furthering Christian education around the world.  He believes strongly in the future of Christian education and its importance to impact the next generation.
    • Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing, and perfect will." - Romans 12:2


As an out-of-town participant of the Emerging Christian Leadership Conference, please see conveniently located hotel options below:
Clay Rd. $116/night (online prepaid); $149
Breakfast from 6-9 am

I-10 and Bunker Hill $149 king; $159 double
Breakfast is NOT included

Clay Road $112/night (online) 
Breakfast 6-9 am

While in Town

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be in Houston during the ECLC. Read more below and click the link to plan a fun evening after the conference.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo™ promotes agriculture by hosting an annual, family-friendly experience that educates and entertains the public, supports Texas youth, showcases Western heritage, and provides year-round educational support within the community. Each night, there is a concert after the rodeo chutes close and the arena dirt settles. Be sure to arrive early and see the best rodeo and concert in Texas!

Click here to learn more. 


List of 1 members.

  • Photo of Mindy Dickerson

    Mindy Dickerson 

    Director of The George and Barbara Bush Center for Scholars and Leaders