The Discerning Leader podcast is for Christian leaders who are interested in discovering the joy of “practicing a preference for God” in all aspects of their personal lives and relationships, their leadership and service to others.

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Oliver Bala | Discerning Congregational Health, Episode 9

Host: Steve Macchia, Guest: Olivier Bala

Anyone that comes in here really feels comfortable. It’s something we have not tried to work hard at. It’s in our DNA.”  Oliver Bala 

 Oliver Bala has been the Senior Pastor of Mount Hope Community Baptist Church for the past 28 years. Oliver joins Steve today for a conversation around Healthy Church Trait 5: A Commitment to Loving and Caring Relationships. Oliver credits the welcoming and deep relationships to the cultural values held by this multiethnic, multigenerational church: worship, sanctuary, hospitality, discipleship, spiritual formation, and leadership development. Oliver notes that part of his role is to help people get familiar with the content of healthy discipleship over again until it makes a difference in their daily lives.  

Join the conversation about spiritual discernment as a way of life at and consider participation in our online and in-person program offerings. Additional LTI spiritual formation resources can be found at and and

Steve Macchia (Podcast Host)
Founder and President of Leadership Transformations
Steve is the author of The Discerning Life,  Becoming a Healthy ChurchBroken and WholeCrafting a Rule of Life and several other titles. Steve has over 40 years in ministry and two postgraduate degrees from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

Olivier Bala (Season 29 Guest)
Rev. Dr. Olivier Bala was born in Dakar, Senegal West Africa. His parents emigrated from Brava, Cape Verde, an island country on the West coast of Africa, to Dakar in pursuit of a better life. In February of 1977 his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Pawtucket Rhode Island. For the past 28 years, Olivier has been the Senior Pastor of Mount Hope Community Baptist Church, a multiethnic, multigenerational church in the heart of Providence RI. He has been married to his wife Lydia for 34 years, and they have two daughters. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies from Gordon College, and his M. Div. and D. Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He enjoys training leaders to equip them with the tools they need to lead their teams well.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

Detailed Biography
Articles by Stephen Macchia
Author Website
Schedule a one-on-one with Steve

Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.