“The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born.” – Warren G. Bennis
Take a look at any first grade class in America, and you will see what parents and teachers like to call “natural born leaders.” Basically, the “bossy kid” who manages all their friends and sometimes their teacher is referred to as a “born leader.” I know because this is my five-year-old to a tee, but it’s not true, my son is not a leader, not yet.
He might be bossy, particular and outspoken, but leaders can reproduce themselves. Leaders take the blame when their team fails. Leaders can innovate, dream and rally people around the work they are called to do. Leaders lead people where they need to go. Leaders take the time to develop and disciple the people around them. Just because someone is loud, bossy, and has a position of power or is a public figure doesn’t mean they are a leader.
2016 was a really intense year and people of faith landed all over the map, but when times are tough, there are some people that just lead so well. This month at everything.church, we are talking about leadership and discipleship. Our list started with so many more names because there are so many gifted and anointed people leading so well, but these are the ten people that we want to honor this month.
So, here are our ten favorite leaders from 2016.
Bob Goff is an ex-lawyer turned business and ministry encourager. He is a mentor to so many people, pastors, and non-pastors alike and that is one of the lasting signs of leadership when you give of yourself to others. Bob was struck with malaria this fall, and didn’t even miss a beat in his role as an encourager to ministry leaders. His joy is contagious, and he is challenging the church to love greater than they ever have before and with fewer conditions than ever before. He’s challenging people with his life, words and his book, “Love Does” that helps to provide education to children in conflict zones, and this is just one of the many reasons, he’s one of our favorites this past year.
Jeremy Courtney is the founder and CEO of Preemptive Love Coalition. “Preemptive Love Coalition is a global movement of peacemakers changing the way we engage the world’s most polarizing conflicts by confronting fear with acts of love.” Some horrendous things happened in Syria and Iraq this past year, and Jeremy was right there physically meeting needs. When the crisis in Aleppo and Mosul was at an all time high, everywhere you looked it seemed people were drawing attention to the difference that you could make through Preemptive Love, by donating money as the smallest token of trying to help an amazing leader and organization lead in a moment that mattered. This is why we think Jeremy Courtney is up to good things.
Craig Groeschel is the Senior Pastor at Life Church in Oklahoma. If you’re a ministry leader and you don’t know what Life Church is, you’ve probably been living under a rock for the last decade. Because Life Church under the leadership of Craig has paved the way for so many futuristic steps in the molding of the modern church. From online church, to campus models, to the Bible app, Life Church has been charging the way in 21st-century church. Life Church has a site where they give so many services away for free; it’s crazy. If they make it, they give it away for free, from curriculums, to apps, to sermon series, to church metrics, they give away valuable resources away as a labor of their love. This is just one reason why Craig is awesome and is a leader to many.
Tim Lucas is the Lead Pastor at Liquid Church in New Jersey. Liquid is a church who wholeheartedly gives back. We had the honor of having Tim on the everything.church podcast this past year where he spoke on meeting the human need as a way to be the “hands and feet of Jesus.” Tim shared about a Special Needs Prom that Liquid hosted, that had a huge turnout and blessed an entire community of people who are often disenfranchised. Liquid has donated over 1.5 million dollars to clean water around the globe since 2008. We are inspired by their ministry model of truly looking at the “least of these” with so much love. With over six campuses they are well on their way of “saturating the state of New Jersey.”
Eugene Cho is the Founder of One Day’s Wages and the Lead Pastor at Quest Church. One Day’s Wages was born out of Eugene and his family’s heart to help end poverty in the world and simply make a difference. That first year they actually gave one year’s wages, their entire income, but asked people to consider giving one day’s wages with them. This irrational generosity started a movement that still gives 100% of its donations directly to people in need. Additionally, Quest Church is making it’s mark on the Seattle area. With a thriving congregation, they have a much-needed focus and open dialogue on race relations in the church and world at large. Even offering a “Faith and Race” class for 4-6 weeks that is even open to non-attenders. These are just a few reasons why we are so impacted by the work of Eugene Cho.
Jennie Allen is the creator of the IF:Gathering. IF: Gathering was born out of Jennie’s desire to see women thrive. As she puts it, “IF:Gathering is the gathering, equipping and unleashing a generation of women to live out their purpose.” IF:Gathering live streamed its first event from Austin, TX, and brought together over 150,000 women from more than 22 countries. There are now 1,500 IF:Gatherings planned for 2017. Local IF:Gatherings take place in homes, churches, and theaters.In the first two years, gatherings have reached more than a million women in 50 countries worldwide. The dream is that ordinary women would become leaders who rise up to make disciples in every city in the country and every country in the world. This is why we are so impacted by the work of Jennie Allen and all the leaders alongside her.
John Van Pay
John Van Pay is the Lead Pastor of Gateway Fellowship, which is currently listed as the fastest growing church in America according to Outreach Magazine’s List. However, John is on our list not because of fast growth and big booms, but because since 2007 he has been a church planter doing the work, the hard work, filled with both success and failure, and miracles too. On John’s blog, you can read how they courted the poorest zip code in Texas outside of San Antonio because “the Spirit of Christ impelled them to go.” Not looking for fame, John and his team are simply motivated to spread the gospel, and it is very motivating indeed.
Lysa TerKeurst is the founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries, a prolific speaker, author and mom to five. With a daily radio program and daily blog Lysa is providing a daily focus to women of faith everywhere. Lysa gives her online Bible studies away for free making it easy for anyone to have access to material that will grow and challenge their faith. Lysa biologically has three daughters and adopted two teenage boys from Liberia, Africa when she felt God challenging her to put feet to her faith. This inspired other families in their community to adopt 45 children from the same orphanage. It’s Lysa’s desire to lead women in the adventure of faith, and she is doing that well.
Nabeel Qureshi is the author of “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”. Raised a devout Muslim, he found Christ as he debated theology and apologetics with a Christian friend over the span of several years at which point he came to know Christ. It’s Nabeel’s life journey to lecture and share about the truth he has discovered.
Why we think Nabeel is great. Nabeel was diagnosed with advanced stomach cancer and has not only continued to have faith and seek God for his healing but has continued to point people to Christ while on his journey.
Carey Nieuwhof is the voice of the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast, the main writer for his blog and the Founding and Teaching Pastor at Connexus Church in Ontario, Canada. Carey oozes truth. Shared in a spirit of teaching and compassion. He has a keen pulse on where the American church is headed having pastored in Canada for his life and urges American pastors to build both authentic relationships and authentic ministries. He mindfully encourages pastors to work with the future in mind. Which is a message we also wholeheartedly believe and can get behind.