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FCA 101: The Don McClanen Experience (DME)

Published on May 11, 2023

This article appears in the Fall 2021 issue of the FCA Donor Publication. The FCA publication is a gift from our FCA staff to all donors giving $50 or more annually. For more information about giving, visit here.

When Don McClanen, a young basketball coach from Oklahoma, wondered at the possibility of athletes endorsing not shaving cream or cigarettes but the Savior Jesus Christ, God’s amazing, miraculous dream began. FCA, initiated in 1954, has evolved over 65 years into the largest, farthest-reaching sports ministry in the world.

To continue his vision and ensure ministry effectiveness and relevance in fulfilling its mission, FCA developed the Don McClanen Experience (DME) to pursue emerging ministry leaders and develop their gifts for even greater influence. Today, dozens of men and women from multiple countries have been trained through this program as FCA seeks to buildaFGHXGDM the bench with the goal of impacting future generations.

Why the DME?
The DME is designed to align and inspire FCA’s next generation of leaders. The program develops FCA staff members’ gifts for even greater influence and leadership.

Who joins the program?
Staff are recommended to participate by Regional Vice Presidents or members of FCA’s executive team. These staff are seen as current and emerging leaders within the organization, those with strong gifts and a high capacity to serve in FCA’s leadership roles. Requirements for candidacy include five years minimum experience with FCA staff, a willingness to relocate if necessary, and the capacity to serve in a role two steps “over” where they currently serve. The DME program lasts two years. The first DME class began in 2017 and the second class is scheduled to graduate in fall 2021.

What kinds of topics are covered in DME?
Chick-fil-A's Vice President of High Performance Leadership Mark Miller developed the Leader’s Journey curriculum used by DME. The curriculum is built around sessions focused on four stages of leadership: Lead Self, Lead Others, Lead Teams and Lead Organizations. The DME includes four sessions over two years; in between in-person gatherings that occur several times throughout the year.

For application, participants are broken into randomly assigned small groups who work on projects in between meetings, usually virtually. Led by a current veteran staff member, each small group assesses a unique need or situation that’s risen from the field that aligns with FCA’s mission. The group works together to form strategies and tactics for addressing the need. Some of the needs considered by DME groups include church partnerships, All Ability sports, Huddle resourcing, fundraising and recruiting strategies, and more.

What’s DME’s impact so far?
From the first class of 30 participants that graduated in 2019, 10 are currently in divisional or executive vice president positions with FCA. “DME builds into leaders so that when leader positions in the ministry open up, they become part of the candidate pool,” said Debbie Jobe, Executive Vice President of Talent Advancement. “It really shows the right person for the job.” DME is shaping the ministry for the years ahead and it’s building the bench. “The Leader’s Journey is transforming our ministry as we follow the principles of authentic leadership,” Jobe added. “I’ve enjoyed literally watching leadership rising to the top.”

Tavon - canva
“DME has grown me personally and professionally in my life and career with FCA. The importance of leading myself before I lead others, teams and organizations has impacted my life the most. Leadership starts with me. I’m very grateful to be a part of a class of leaders who are making disciples who make disciples in FCA ministry.”
-Tavon Arrington
Director, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Ty - pixlr“The DME has been life-changing. This training is world class and has truly changed not only the way I go about ministry, but how I lead my family. Every area of my life has been transformed through this two-year coaching journey. God has given me the mission to fight for the next generation; DME trains on how to fight and how to win.”
-Ty Greene
Greater Knoxville Area Rep

Roberto“DME has been a game-changing experience. I’ve been able to improve my leadership skills and develop my team better.”
-Roberto Medina
Director, Latin America South

Gloria“DME has been an amazing learning experience. The program gives us hands-on training as we help FCA move forward. It’s exciting to be a part of FCA’s growth as new ministry initiatives are launched. Through DME, our voices are being heard. Connecting with other FCA leaders around both the country and the world has created community and lifelong friendships.”
-Gloria Solis
Director, University of Central Florida