Mark Lau Branson

Homer L. Goddard Professor of the Ministry of the LaitySchool of Theology

Contact Information
BA, Wichita State University
MA, School of Theology at Claremont
EdD, University of San Francisco

Mark Lau Branson is the Homer L. Goddard Professor of the Ministry of the Laity and has taught at Fuller since 2000. He teaches courses in congregational leadership and community engagement. In addition, he is the coordinator of the PhD/ThM program in Practical Theology and the School of Theology.

Branson was ordained at San Francisco Christian Center, an African American Pentecostal church, and has served on the pastoral teams in United Methodist and Presbyterian churches. He has worked with several agencies active in education, community development, and community organizing, and continues to serve as a consultant and speaker. His most recent books are Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood, coedited with Nicholas Warnes (InterVarsity Press, 2014), Churches, Cultures, and Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities, coauthored with Juan Martínez (InterVarsity Press, 2011), and Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry, Missional Engagement, and Congregational Change, 2nd ed. (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Branson has also contributed chapters to books that include “Gratitude as Access to Meaning” in The Three Tasks of Leadership (2009), “Ecclesiology and Leadership for the Missional Church” in The Missional Church in Context: Helping Congregations Develop Contextual Ministry (2007), “Forming God’s People” in Leadership in Congregations (2007), and “Religious Leaders and Social Change” in Religious Leadership: A Reference Handbook (Sage, 2013). He has articles in the Journal of Religious Leadership and the Encyclopedia of Christian Education, and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Missional Practice and the Asian Journal of Religion and Society. Branson is active in the Academy of Religious Leadership and the Ekklesia Project.

Branson is vice president of the Institute of Urban Initiatives. As a senior consultant with The Missional Network he works frequently with churches and denominational judicatories. Mark and Nina Lau-Branson live in Pasadena, California, and they are on the leadership team with The Table: A Free Methodist Church.

Courses Taught

  • IS502: Practices of Christian Community
  • PM514: Missional Churches and Leadership
  • CF526: The Congregation as a Learning Community
  • GM506: Foundations for Ministry
  • PM849: Learning Communities: Practical Theology and Christian Education
  • PM856: Practical Theology Methods
  • TC501: American Culture: Social Location and the Gospel
  • TM507: Ethnicities and Churches: U.S. Narratives and Intercultural Life
  • TM521: Congregations in the World: Neighbors, Workplace, and Society
  • DMin Missional Leadership Cohort (with Alan Roxburgh)

Areas of Expertise, Research, Writing, and Teaching

Branson's research, consulting, writing, and teaching focuses on congregational life and community engagement, including topics such as congregational revisioning and transformation, leadership development, intercultural studies, urban churches, missional ecclesiology, and practical theology. He is currently engaged in a two-year research and consulting project in Korea.


Recent Articles

  • “Matthew and Learning Communities,” Journal of Religious Leadership 15:2 (Fall, 2016).
  • “A Missional Church Process: Post-Intervention Research,” Journal of Religious Leadership 13:1 (Spring, 2014).
  • “A Practical Theology of Leadership: With International Voices,” with Juan Martínez, Journal of Religious Leadership 10:2 (Fall, 2011).
  • “Interpretive Leadership During Social Dislocation: Jeremiah and Social Imaginary,” Journal of Religious Leadership 8:1 (Spring, 2009).


  • Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry, Missional Engagement, and Congregational Change, 2nd ed. Rowman & Littlefield, 2016.
  • Starting Missional Churches: Life with God in the Neighborhood. Coedited with Nicholas Warnes. InterVarsity Press, 2014.
  • Churches, Cultures, and Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities. Coauthored with Juan Martínez. InterVarsity Press, 2011.
  • Intercultural Church Life and Adult Formation: Community, Narrative, and Transformation. [Ed.D. dissertation]. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI, 1998.
  • Coeditor with C. René Padilla, Conflict and Context: Hermeneutics in the Americas, and author of chapter “Response to Samuel Escobar’s ‘Our Hermeneutical Task Today.’” Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986.
  • The Reader’s Guide to the Best Evangelical Books. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1983.
Chapters or Entries in Books
  • “Creating Missional Environments,” “Educating for Intercultural Life,” and “Transformational Congregational Learning,” in Encyclopedia of Christian Education, ed. George Thomas Kurian and Mark A Lamport, 3 vols. (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015).
  • “Religious Leaders and Social Change,” in Sharon Callahan (ed.), Religious Leadership: A Reference Handbook (2 vols.) (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2013).
  • “Gratitude as Access to Meaning,” in Eric Jacobsen (ed.), The Three Tasks of Leadership (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009.
  • “Ecclesiology and Leadership in Context,” in Craig Van Gelder (ed.), The Missional Church in Context (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007).
  • “Forming God’s People,” in Richard Bass (ed.), Leadership in Congregations (Herndon, VA: Alban, 2007), reprinted from Congregations 29 (Winter 2003).
  • “Adoption,” article and textual footnotes in Joel B. Green and Tremper Longman III (eds.) Everyday Study Bible (Dallas: Word, 1996).
  • “A Missional Theology for Evangelical Seminaries,” with Ryan Bolger, for the Allelon Schools Project.
  • “Escaping a False Gospel: On Changing Stories,” Theology, News & Notes, (Spring 2004).
  • “Forming Church, Forming Mission,” International Review of Mission 92 (April 2003).
  • “We Created an EcoFund,” with Tom Prince, Cohousing Journal 15:1 (Spring 2002).
  • “Intergenerational Worship: A Cyber Conversation” (contributor), The Gospel and Our Culture Newsletter 13:1 (March 2001).
  • “Organize to Beat the Devil,” with Joel B. Green, The Gospel and Our Culture Newsletter 12:4 (December 2000).
  • “But I’m Too Busy to Read Poetry: A Conversation with Eugene Peterson,” Radix 20:3 (1991).
  • “Spirit, Self, and Society: Eugene Peterson’s Agenda,” Catalyst 18:1 (Nov. 1991).
  • “A Theological Foundation for Marriage,” Transformation 6:1 (January/March 1989).
  • “Personal Budgets: Questions and Answers,” Radix 19:2 (1989).
  • “John Wesley’s Theology and Our Own,” Radix 17:5 (1986).
  • “Marriage as Sanctification,” Radix 15:5 (1984).
  • “Evangelism and Social Ethics: Church, University and Seminary,” Perkins Journal 35:2 (Winter-Spring 1982).
  • “A Break in the Battle,” Presbyterian Outlook 163:36 (October 12, 1981).

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