Gary serves as the Executive Director of ChurchNEXT (a division of Novo Mission) where he gives leadership to the global impact of more than 125 missionary staff who serve on seventeen teams.
Gary has been in leadership roles since high school and has been training/consulting with other leaders for more than 40 years. Along the way he has authored or co-authored five books and played a major role in the development of numerous resources and training processes now used worldwide.
He earned his doctorate in Leadership and Organizational Systems from Bethel Seminary.
Gary serves leaders across the U.S. and around the world, but lives in the Phoenix, AZ area. He and his wife, Margaret, love living near their adult children and three grandsons.
MY BACK STORY
Back in the early 70’s, my wavy hair hung well past my shoulders. My beach tan was semi-permanent and,my experience of the church was anything but compelling. Jesus seemed like a religious figure who had little to offer people who lived in the real world. I had grown up going to church with my parents. I was a lifer. But, the church I knew seemed more like a country club gathering of friends than a community that was passionate to follow the author of life and make a difference in the world. (By the way, my adult children think my long hair pictures from those days are hysterical.)
As a college freshman, Jesus turned my life inside out.
The God of the universe became tangible, accessible, real, and undeniable to me. He literally changed everything about everything. My grand plan to become an architect faded away. I wanted to spend my life helping as many people as possible discover a life-altering relationship with Jesus. I wanted to see churches become the engines of hope we were meant to be. I wanted a generation of Christ followers learn to live the life we were made for--life as missionaries in the trenches of everyday.
So, I changed career plans. I left the State University and transferred to Bible College. I attended Seminary–in fact, three of them. And I became a pastor. For twenty years I served in pastoral ministry in local churches. But, the thing is, I have always had this call to serve as a catalyst to the church on a broad scale, not just one church at a time. That call became reality in 1997 when I became a missionary-partner, mentor, trainer, and coach to pastors, church planters, and ministry leaders around the world.
Along the way, I discovered that leading a church is one of the most complicated leadership assignments on earth. The church is the ultimate volunteer organization. Ministry leaders have to cast vision, lead change, raise money, motivate people, navigate conflict, recruit and manage staff, mobilize volunteers, exegete culture, and so much more.
Leadership training wasn't the curriculum of my academic education. It’s the stuff I had to learn in the trenches of daily responsibility. And, I’m not alone.
Not long ago, I was on the phone with a church planter I’ve known for a decade. He is an amazing guy. Honest. Passionate. Transparent. Gutsy. A pioneer among pioneers. We chatted for a while about the challenges of ministry he was facing and then he said it this way, “Nobody out there is helping a guy like me with the challenges of leadership in a setting like mine.”
I long to shape the church–in all of its forms—to fuel movements of new disciples, new expressions of the church, and transformed communities. To see that happen, leaders of amazing skill and spiritual authority are needed. We need leaders who own their development as a life-long endeavor.
And, we need a flood of leaders from emerging generations who will lead the way into an emerging world. We need to give our lives away to those amazing men and women.
That’s the point of this website. I believe one of my core assignments for the next twenty years is to give my life away to leaders who are 25 years or more behind me.
aboutLEADING is a place where I am trying to put words to the lessons of life and leadership God has gone to great lengths to teach me. I will post articles, create podcasts, upload the occasional video, and share tools or resources I have created. My prayer is that simple effort empowers you and your journey as a leader.
I’d love to know what you're learning..