Doug Tilstra


Professor (2000)
Director of Outdoor Education


BA, Pacific Union College
MDiv, Andrews University
PhD, Capella University


Phone: 423-236-2984

Dr. Tilstra taught leadership and spiritual formation for 11 years in Southern’s School of Religion before becoming the Director of Outdoor Leadership and Education Programs in 2011.  His passion is mentoring and developing leaders.  He brings to his work more than 30 years of experience in leadership development, a love of the outdoors, and a fascination for connecting people with deeper issues of life in a variety of situations and settings.  He earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Management with a specialization in Leadership from Capella University in 2007 and a Leadership Coaching Certificate from Georgetown University in 2013.  He has authored or co-authored numberous articles and professional papers on the subject of leadership and other topics (see below).

Douglas and Lorraine Tilstra have been married since 1979 and are the proud parents of 3 young adult children— John (married to Lisa, and living in the Saudi Arabia), Stephen (recent Physical Therapist graduate), and Elisabeth (grant writer in Leavenworth, WA).  When he is not at work, Douglas enjoys tearing apart and restoring old brick homes, hanging out with his wife and kids (when they’re around), music, writing, photography, international travel, hiking, backpacking, skiing, and new adventures outdoors.



“How Do You Move Kids from Boredom to Wonder in the Outdoors?”, “Is It Our Job to Make Campers Tree Huggers?”, “How Do You Teach Kids Critical Thinking Skills Through Nature?”,   “How is Truth of the Cross Found in Nature?”, “An Experiential Workshop in Applying 7 Basic Principles of Connecting Children to God Through Nature”  (series of 5 presentations at Association of Adventist Camping Professionals, December 5-7, 2013, Wewoka, OK)

“Five Learnable Leadership Skills and How to Begin Practicing Them” (Professional Leadership Development training for team leaders of Ridgewood Manor, Ethica Health and Retirement Communities, Dalton, GA, November 22, 2013)

“Three Words on Leadership” (Professional Leadership Development training for future Directors of Nursing, Ethica Health and Retirement Communities, Stockbridge, GA, June 5 and September 17, 2013)

“Peter: From Stumbling Block to Building Block” (chapter 19 of Servants and Friends: A Biblical Theology of Leadership, Andrews University Press, to be published 2014)

“Biblical Models of Leadership” (Elders Leadership Training, January 4-5, 2013, Alaska Conference of SDA, Anchorage, AK)                                                        

“Strategic Planning for Pastors” , (series of 6 presentations, January 6-10, 2013, Alaska Conference of SDA Minister’s Meeting, Anchorage, AK)                                                        

“Leadership and Team Building in the Life of Jesus” (series of 4 presentations for Southern Adventist University School of Business, March 30-31, 2012, Cohutta Springs Retreat Center, GA)

“Lessons on Mentoring from the Life of Jesus” (series of 4 presentations at Association of Adventist of Camping Professionals, November 30-December 3, 2011, Leoni Meadows, CA)

Keynote Address: Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital Division of Forensic Pediatrics “Enditnow: Summit on Abuse”, (October 15, 2011, Loma Linda, CA)

“Leadership Principles for the Outdoor Professional” (presentation at Association of Environmental Educators, April 8, 2011, Chattanooga, TN)

"Charismatic Leaders as Team Leaders: An Evaluation Focused on Pastoral Leadership" (Journal of Religious Leadership, Fall, 2010)

“Charismatic Team Leaders” (paper presented April 24, 2010 at the Academy of Religious Leadership, Chicago, Illinois)

“The Emotionally Healthy Pastor” (Series of 6 presentations co-presented with Dr. Nick Howard, Florida Conference of SDA Minister’s Meeting, January 4-6, 2010, Kamp Kulaqua, Florida)

“Leadership Development in Higher Education: What the Research Shows is Working and Why” (The Journal of Applied Christian Leadership, Summer, 2008)

“Beavers & The Word of God” (Spectrum, Online Sabbath School Commentary, June 23-29, 2007)

“Leadership Formation in Ministerial Education-Part 3: A Comparison of Transformational Effects in Three Selected Programs”  (Andrews University Seminary Studies, Spring, 2005; with Skip Bell & Roger Dudley)

“The Way it Could Be: Leadership Development in Ministerial Education” (Ministry, July/August, 2005; with Skip Bell & Roger Dudley)

“Encounters with Adventist Women Planting Churches” (Ministry, April 2004)

“Women’s Leadership in the Church: Lessons from Church Planters” (Spectrum, Summer, 2003)

“Church Planting Can Be Hazardous to Your Family Health” (General Conference of SDA Family Ministries Planbook, 2003)

“Covenant Faith” (Spectrum, Online Sabbath School Commentary, March 15-21, 2003)

“Seventh-day Adventist Female Church Planters in North America” (paper presented November 23, 2002 at the Adventist Society for Religious Studies, Toronto, Ontario)

“How to Move into a Church Plant without Killing It” (Ministry, February, 2001)

“Conversation at Bedtime” (Ministry, April, 2000)

“A Pastor’s Spirituality” (Ministry, June, 1999)

“ACTS 2000: Kumasi” (Adventist Review, June 24, 1999)

“A Beaver Morning” (Signs of the Times, August, 1999)

“Church Planting: Counting the Cost” (Ministry, December, 1998)