Congregational Development


Rev. Craig S. Brown

Rev. Craig S. Brown currently serves as the Executive Director of Congregational Development. The role of the Executive Director of Congregational Development is to lead the conference in intentional church planting, building on the good work that has been done in the past in this priority area. The Executive Director of Congregational Development will partner with the bishop, the appointive and extended cabinets and the Conference Committee on New and Vital Congregations in a team effort to help our conference contribute in significant ways to the growth of the church and the welcoming of the reign of God.   

Rev. Brown recently served as the Lead Pastor of First UMC in San Diego, Calif. Prior to serving First UMC, San Diego, Rev. Brown served as the senior pastor of the Shepherd of the Hills UMC in Mission Viejo, Calif. from 2005 to 2013, the senior pastor of the UMC of Thousand Oaks, Calif. from 1999 to 2005, the associate pastor of Palisades UMC in Capistrano Beach, Calif. from 1994 to 1999, the director of youth and children’s ministries at Covina UMC in Covina, Calif. from 1991 to 1994, and the director of youth ministries at La Palma UMC in La Palma, Calif. from 1987 to 1991. 

He has extensive background and training in congregational development, leadership development and multi-site church ministry. Craig has successfully led all three churches where he has served as senior pastor to increased growth across every metric. He has led two separate congregations (one in Orange County and the other in San Diego) into multi-site ministries.

Rev. Brown is a recognized leader in our denomination serving on the Steering Committee for the UMC Large Church Initiative, currently serving as its chairperson.  He is a trustee for the Claremont School of Theology and is the chairperson of the seminary advisory board for Seattle Pacific Seminary. 

Rev. Brown earned a B.A. degree in Biblical Studies and Theology from Biola University and an M.Div. from Fuller Theological Seminary.  He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Ministry at Boston University with expected completion in 2020. 

Craig is married to Bettina.  Bettina works as a CPA and tax manager in the area of community bank taxation.  They are the parents of two adult children, David, 22, and Rachel, 19.  David is graduating from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in electrical engineering and about to enter the Navy as a nuclear power engineer. Rachel is finishing her first year of community college and transferring to American University to pursue a degree in political science.  Craig and Bettina also provide caring support for Craig’s mother Sandy.

Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.