Bob Seymore

Global, Local, Leadership, Church Planting, Coaching

GLS: At the heart of a City Movement

There is a lot of talk and several examples of City Movements where we see public and private sectors join forces to make a sustainable impact in local communities, but I have rarely seen a connection point quite like the Global Leadership Summit(GLS) which has been produced annually for the last 20 years by the Willow Creek Association.

The Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event that is telecast LIVE from the Willow Creek Community Church campus near Chicago every August to more than 300 locations in North America. Then throughout the fall, GLS events take place globally in an additional 350+ cities, 105 countries and is translated into 50 languages. Every year the team at Willow assembles a world class faculty including speakers from business, nonprofits, government, education, research, churches and beyond…but they all capture and deliver content designed to improve the leadership capacity of every person that attends.


The Global Leadership Summit has served our church and our leaders for the last several years with tangible skills that are applicable in everyday life and ministry. We make it an annual priority.

But as a host site for the GLS in Western Kentucky and Southern Indiana for the last several years, we have discovered another level of impact that goes beyond the growth of our own internal leadership as a church. The GLS is having a growing value as a resource to start, build and sustain the heart of a city movement that can impact the city at large.

Here are some characteristics of GLS that can fuel a city movement:

1. GLS reaches across multiple sectors-While there are events and gatherings that cross various sectors in communities, there have been every few that reach the depth and breadth of the Global Leadership Summit. From the very beginning every year, founder Bill Hybels opens the GLS with a challenge to business and church leaders to “expand their bandwidth” and be open to learning the best of leadership from each other. The results for a local community is a gathering of church, business, nonprofit, education and government leaders in one room…growing together.

2. GLS builds year to year-We like to say that “GLS is not just an event to attend, it’s a resource to be leveraged”. With 20 years of growth globally, the GLS can be an annual gathering that not only improves leadership, but gathers more and more leaders every year to build momentum in raising the leadership quality of a local community.

3. GLS is a networking hub-Organizations in every community do a variety of things to connect. And while there are a lots of agendas in most community networking events, there is only one agenda at the heart of the GLS….to grow leaders. There is a value add to every leader that attends, but every attender is sitting beside other leaders with the same agenda. The networking that happens with leaders from a community committed to personal and organizational growth is a rare opportunity.

4. GLS is a mobilizer-When leaders gather to grow together, a natural by-product is action. When leadership capacity is enlarged in a community everybody wins. Churches get better, businesses get better, schools get better, government gets better, nonprofits get better…the opportunity to “build a great city” can become a practical reality.

5. GLS is about the church…and beyond-At the heart of the GLS is the church. The Willow Creek Association is unapologetic about their commitment to the local church and Bill Hybels is known globally for the quote “the local church is the hope of the world”. But the Bible is full of references to “the city” and at the heart of a city movement is a church that doesn’t just use the city to build a great church, but uses the church to build a great city. The GLS gives local churches the opportunity to be at the heart of “building a great city” and to serve local leaders by connecting and investing in their personal and organizational growth.

If I were planting a church or leading an existing congregation, I would connect to the Global Leadership Summit in my local community. If it didn’t exist in my community, I would be the first to bring it in. It is not only essential to my personal growth as a leader, but it’s vital to the growth of leaders in my church and community and with the GLS, we get to do it…together.

Never confuse limited resources with limited capacity

Never confuse limited resources with limited capacity…that iDay_8-45dea continued to resonate with our team as we participated in Global Leadership Summit sites in the country of Myanmar just a few weeks ago.

It all began in Myanmar in 2009 when a team from WCA, Singapore and Evansville Indiana worked in collaboration to launch the first GLS in a Yangon church for a passionate group of 350 Burmese pastors and leaders. This year the GLS is wrapping up in 4 cities in Myanmar with over 2200 leaders in attendance. And these passionate pioneers talk of reaching 9 cities with thousands more leaders over the next few years.

I had the opportunity to personally participate in 2 of the 4 sites this year and while I enjoyed returning to be with the GLS veterans in Yangon in their 7th year, I especially enjoyed our experience with a brand new site in Kalaymyo Myanmar

Kalaymyo is located in the northwest section of Myanmar and was recently recognized in the national news because a monsoon which triggered a state of emergency due to flash flooding that displaced thousands of people and caused devastation for families in the area. Makeshift rescue camps were spread across the valley and people were surviving in tents with random water and supplies from various churches and agencies. We were able to tour the flooded area and even provide some assistance, but in this city of 400,000 this was a disaster of major proportion.

5With that backdrop, we arrived in this city to join the launch of their first GLS. While we anticipated that the floods added to the ongoing resource challenges of this city might be a detriment to local engagement in a leadership conference, we found just the opposite. The local GLS team was hard at work when we arrived the day before GLS.

Producers were going over the script for the day line by line. Tech people were setting up audio and video systems and testing to make sure the message would be optimum. Ladies were cleaning and hanging curtains to darken the room. The highly skilled band was rehearsing the worship set to make sure it was ready. The event teams were hanging banners and making sure program books and name tags were ready and waiting. There was an army of people preparing food and all this was being done under the power of generators to provide electricity. It was amazing to watch the level of organized effort and their passion to serve leaders in their city.

6And they came.

The parking lot was full of motorcycles as they exceeded their goal and filled the church with over 260 leaders from 69 different organizations including pastors from multiple denominations, politicians, businessmen, educators, leaders from social welfare, media and beyond. Never had such a diverse group gathered in this city. The GLS provided a resource that could be leveraged to bring leaders together from every sector to learn, grow and improve their leadership.

4It is always a privilege to provide help to the under resourced. Food, clothes, shelter, financial support…may God enlarge our hearts for those with physical needs. But what became evident in our brief experience in Kalaymyo Myanmar was that physical resources served some of the immediate needs, but leadership development provided long term skills to address solutions. The GLS provided skills for growth to some very capable leaders in a community where leaders don’t lack capacity, but lack opportunity. Leadership resources that can help them navigate and lead in the reality of a severely under resourced environment.

The GLS is a resource to be leveraged and in Kalaymyo they came, they listened and they learned. And experience tells us that everybody wins when a leader gets better. Churches win…. Cities win…. Countries win… everybody wins.



GLS: Not just an event to attend

GLS-Willow-CreekThe Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event that is telecast LIVE from the Willow Creek Community Church campus near Chicago every August to more than 300+ locations in North America. Then throughout the fall, GLS events take place globally in an additional 500+ global cities, 125 countries and is translated into 55 languages. Every year the team at Willow assembles a world class faculty including speakers from business, nonprofits, government, education, research, churches and beyond…but they all capture and deliver content designed to improve the leadership capacity of every person that attends.
When I started working as a local church leader with the Willow Creek Association team in Chicago about 9 years ago, I remember thinking that we would go back…promote this event like so many other concerts or speakers that came to our church…we would gather a crowd that would learn and grow and it would be a great opportunity for us as a church to offer such an event to our little corner of the world.

But after a couple of years I had a conversion….

I realized that the GLS wasn’t just an event to attend.

While there were some well known names that we heard at the GLS, some of the most profound content came from people that we were not familiar with. We discovered that from beginning to end, the GLS was crafted with a world class faculty that would teach, train, inspire and motivate those in attendance to be better leaders and raise their impact through the local church. We discovered that the GLS was unapologetically aimed at local church leaders, but it gave space for some of the best and the brightest in the marketplace to share strategic ideas that could be used to mobilize leaders at all levels. We discovered that the GLS created a ‘gathering of leaders” in a church and a community that would build networks of relationships that could fuel a leadership culture and collaboration like no other gathering. It was simply the best and only 2 day learning experience that we had ever been a part of that kept the local church at heart, but brought together church, business, government, educational and other leaders from an entire region to learn and grow.

The Global Leadership Summit is not just an event to attend, it’s a resource to be leveraged.

So how can you best leverage the Global Leadership Summit as a church? There are a lot of ways that you can make the GLS a win, but at One Life Church we have reached a point where we “own it” at several levels of our core strategy and structure.

photo_why1. Own it in your calendar

As a church, there are events that are non-negotiables in our annual calendar. All of us make sure that we calendar Christmas and Easter and the rest of the year seems to be on-ramps to those special days. The next date that we calendar is the GLS and we look for opportunities to build on-ramps IN AND OUT of the GLS experience. For us it comes at the end of the summer season and it provides great timing to inspire leaders as we launch into our fall plans. We surround it with prayer and even a special meal and gathering the night before as we re-gather from the summer break and prepare for our fall season kick off.

2. Own it with your staff

Not only does our entire staff attend the GLS, but we schedule an entire day very soon after to debrief. It’s an event where you will want to take copious notes and sharing those thoughts and ideas will change your staff discussions for the next year if you quickly connect and look for common ideas and learnings. In fact, last year in addition to our debrief day we took content from one of the speakers, Joseph Grenny and did a staff retreat using the ideas from “Influencers” to discuss our path for new people.

3. Own it with your leadership core

The WCA people introduced us to the idea that in most churches, approximate 15% of your attendance would be considered leaders that have some level of influence in your church. It is very important to note that the 15% goes significantly beyond just elders and deacons.It is anybody who leads people from pastors to group leaders. We have formalized that structure and call it our “Leadership Core” and we have monthly gatherings. They become our number one target to attend the GLS and we work at debriefing GLS ideas in large and small groups settings with our “Core” leadership. GLS changes the conversations and provides a platform for fresh strategic discussions. Last year we even took some of the Brene Brown material with this group and discussed “Belonging” in our church culture.

GLSpanel-26534. Own it in your community

This has become a very important part of the GLS for us as we serve our city. We partner with our local chamber, local government and of course other local churches to invite and connect for the purpose of helping to build a great city. Every year we do some type of discussion during one of the lunches at GLS that provides insight into our local community and the work that is happening though local nonprofits and other churches with the idea of mobilizing for greater impact.

5. Own it in your Global missions

It’s interesting because many of us listen to the world wide impact of the GLS and applaud the efforts, but rarely connect the dots to our own mission strategy. But we did….and it changed everything.

Several years back, I was part of a team that had been involved in the country of Myanmar for several years. We had been in a village near the largest city of Yangon and at the time had about a dozen orphanages that were doing a highly effective work with kids. As we heard about the work of the global GLS, we had a discussion about taking it into Myanmar. And to shorten the story of an incredible journey, partnerships between WCA and churches in the states and churches in Myanmar began to form and this past year was our 6th year with GLS in three major cities in Myanmar with over 1800 leaders attending. And most important, because of relationships and collaborations that were shaped at the GLS, a new Human Trafficking Restoration Center was built and is serving one of the biggest issues facing this country. Because of the GLS and partnerships we have developed, we have gone from reaching a village to reaching an entire country.

The Global Leadership Summit is not just an event to attend, it’s a resource to be leveraged.

If you leverage the Global Leadership Summit as a point of leadership training and mobilization and embed it into your leadership culture, it is an annual resource that can change your church, your city and your global impact.

Engage-Build a Great City

We often say “Engage” is a verb, not a noun. That’s because Engage is the strategy of  a group of local leaders, community organizations and concerned residents in Henderson, Kentucky and Evansville Indiana.  Our mission is to provide a process that creates partnerships with residents and community resources to improve the quality of life in targeted neighborhoods.

Engage Values include:

LISTEN-Seek to understand the dreams, gifts and strengths of people

LEVERAGE-Build on the strengths and assets of the community

PARTNER-Do WITH not FOR the community

COLLABORATE-Focus the gifts of many on a common vision

COMMUNITY-Serve through community and with the community

ACTION-Demonstrate the love of Christ through action


The Engage process includes 4 simple steps…Listen, Align, Act, Repeat.




LISTEN-Seek to understand the dreams, gifts and strengths of people by providing a safe place for open discussion of ideas.

Align-Build on the strengths and assets of the community by doing things WITH not FOR the community. Work to focus the gifts of many on a common vision and be catalysts-promoting interdisciplinary collaboration

Act-Demonstrate the love of Christ through action

Repeat-Stay at it with a complete dependence on God for community transformation- We can serve the city, love the city and bless the city-but only God has the power to transform a city.

Quiet Time Apps

There are a lot of resources available to those of us that live in a high tech smartphone/tablet world, but often the challenge is moving from concepts and clutter to practical application. This is an attempt to sort out some Apps that might be helpful and some practical application for your daily quiet time.

Bible Reading

downloadOf all of the Bible apps that are available, the most common is called You Version. It is available for any platform or type of device that you might own. It includes several versions of the Bible, but the most commonly used version at One Life Church is called the NIV(New International Version). And while this app is exceptional to read and search through the pages of the Bible, it has a feature called “Plans” that can help you connect to some daily reading options. Two great plans in the YouVersion App that provide a very basic daily reading and devotional are the Life Application Study Bible and Devotional and the Rick Warren Daily Devotional.Important to note that these plans are just a very basic daily reading and a good place to start. In addition, we provide a daily readings through our One Life App with passages and devotional thoughts that connect to our sermons and themes every week. The important thing is to get started on a daily basis and in time work towards a more comprehensive study of context and content as you grow in your passion to understand God’s word.

Journalingdownload (1)One of the best books on prayer and Bible Study habits is called “Too Busy Not to Pray”. In this book Bill Hybels walks through some basic habits and structure for a daily quiet time which includes the idea of journaling. The greatest opportunity with the high tech approach is that you can read a passage in You Version and click “copy” and easily cut and paste a meaningful passage into a journal and post thoughts about application. A great app for journaling is calledVJournal. VJournal is a very simple front door to post and catalog journal entries in a very popular app called Evernote. When you open VJournal, you get a lined page and you can paste your passage,  write some thoughts and then click save. When you save your journal entry for the day it is filed sequentially in Evernote under the year and day. It is very encouraging and interesting to go back and look at your journey in the daily journal entries. Just to simplify this whole idea, you are asking and writing in VJournal things like: what passage that I read today impressed me…what am I learning…. what action steps do I need to take and how does it apply to everyday life.


download (2)It is not a new idea to maintain a prayer list of people and needs that you might be praying for on a daily basis. In the new tech world there here are some apps that can help you not only build a list, but log answered prayer and help with reminders throughout the day. One of those apps is called Prayer Notebook. Some of the features include:

-Secured access-If you want to keep others from reading the intimate details of your prayers you can put a security access code for entry.

-Scheduling-an interesting feature is that you can designate a prayer item for everyday or you can give it a specific day. For example, you might pray for a different member of your Life Group or your extended family everyday.

-Notifications-You can set up prayer items to pop up on your phone or tablet at a specific time of day. A very simple reminder through the day to “pray constantly” for those people or needs in your life that are a priority. Most importantly you totally control the reminders.

…and the list goes on. It is a very powerful little app that can add consistency and thoughtfulness to your prayer life and it also allows you to mark prayers as “answered”. A great diary of God’s work in your life.

There are a lot more resources available in local Christian bookstores and online to help you with your daily quiet time. Many years ago Charles Stanley was asked the question “what is the best version of the Holy Bible”. His answer is profound, but very true. He said “the one you will read”.

Get started. Now.

Church Planting-NYC

At One Life Church, We are church planters.

IMG_3573_1In 2013, we took a team of 50 people to Movement Day in New York City as part of our ongoing relationship with Mac Pier and the New York Leadership Center. Our team had the opportunity to do a teaching track at Movement Day in Times Square and then we spent a day visiting neighborhoods in Manhattan where we got to hear the stories of 3 amazing church planters and walk the streets where they served. For all who made the journey, it was snapshot of what it looks like to plant a church in one of the most influential cities in the world.

Coming out of building One Life East, we want to give a lot of attention to the health of our regional sites and strengthen people and financial resources as we process future opportunities in the tri-state area, but we also want to keep our church planting passion fueled and growing by pursuing some “church planting partnerships”.

Partnerships provide some great opportunities including:

-the opportunity to be a part of a church plant in high impact areas like New York City

-the opportunity to learn from other church planters that have our DNA.

-the opportunity to share some of our experience with church planters

-the opportunity to be a fractional part of the leadership and financial resources required to plant a church

And after a couple of years of building relationships and connections in New York City, we have landed on a couple of very strategic partnerships.

The first is called Redeemer City to City. Tim Keller is the founding pastor of Redeemer Church in New York City and in 2001 he started Redeemer City to City which has helped start over 300 churches in 45 cities. The City to City partnership over the next two years includes sessions of church plant training along side other North American partners and ongoing coaching with the City to City staff( including Tim Keller) as we work locally and in NYC to deepen our planting skills and experience.

logo-hopeThe other partner in New York is a young church called Hope Church-NYC. Our connection with Hope Church has been with one of the founding pastors-Drew Hyun. Drew was one of the pastors at New Life Fellowship in Queens, a large church pastored by Pete Scazzerro. After 10 years in the area, Drew and his wife felt the call to form a team and plant new churches in New York City. They connected with Redeemer City to City and began the adventure in 2012 with 25 people at their first site in the Astoria area of New York. That first church has grown to a community of 200 people with 35 nations represented. They planted a 2nd site in April of 2013 on Roosevelt Island and they are just getting started.

During an afternoon at a coffee shop in Long Island City, we had the opportunity to hear Drew’s heart as a church planter and we genuinely connected to his aggressive passion to launch sites and soon discovered that he was the New York version of our One Life Church DNA. He is preparing to launch their third site in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday October 26th and that is where we connect.

Drew and a small team of pastors and worship leaders came to visit One Life Church in Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky for 4 days in August.They wanted to understand how we work with teams and facilities and plan our services and connect people to Life Groups and how we pray, pray pray…….They just wanted to come learn and get to know us.

And we will be taking a team to New York for Movement day on October 23rd and staying to do whatever we can to help with the launch of the next New Hope site in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday October 26th. Maybe it is passing out flyers, prayer walking, helping prep the facility or whatever…but our team wants to serve and learn with our friends in New York.

We are church planters.

We look forward to learning with and serving beside other church planters as we help people far from God experience Jesus.

The Kyndle Leadership Series-Business

A great day of Leadership insight and inspiration from local and regional CEO’s and others with leadership experience. Kyndle is the 4 county Chamber organization representing Henderson and surrounding counties. The idea is keep the leadership conversation going after the Global Leadership Summit in Western Kentucky with specific sessions for business, non-profit, educators and students. For more information, click here,

Community, Cause and Corporation

Community, Cause and Corporation…. Healthy nonprofits and churches

There was a point in my career that I made a change from the corporate-profit world to the church and non-profit world. I knew there were some distinct differences, but I also knew that part of why I was hired was to bring some of my business background to the daily operations of the nonprofit environment I was about to enter. During that journey and transition I ran into some insight from a pastor and consultant that has provided a framework of balance for the last 25 plus years.

The idea comes from a passage in Philippians 2:25 where Paul is commending one of his associates and says… “I thought I should send Epaphroditus back to you. He is a true brother, co-worker, and fellow soldier.…”. The idea is that these three primary metaphors in a church or nonprofit organization describe relationships and ultimately primary functions and all three must exist in some reasonable balance for effectiveness.

Community….Metaphor: Brother or the idea of a family relational connection

Cause…Metaphor: Soldier or the idea of an army with a strategic battle to win.

Corporation...Metaphor: Co-Worker or the idea of a business or employee environment.

Communityan-environmentCommunity : In a healthy church or non-profit there is a relational chemistry among the board, the staff and the volunteers that not only makes it a pleasure to serve, but it creates an environment of trust and relationship that functions like a “healthy” family. We laugh together, we cry together, we celebrate wins and we comfort and encourage during losses. We eat together, we do retreats, we serve side by side and we generally do “life” together. And just like a family, in a healthy non-profit I not only care about your work, but I care about your kids, you family and your needs beyond the office. There is a healthy community component to a non-profit world that becomes a magnet to recruit volunteers and engage people in the mission. It can be infectious. And although relationships are huge in every endeavor, nonprofits live in a world where people volunteer without a paycheck to serve for two major reasons…they believe in the cause and they enjoy the journey in community with others that believe in the same mission.

Cause: There has never been a nonprofit entity started that didn’t begin with a cause. That’s a bold statement, but while the profit world is ultimately about “profits”, the nonprofit world is about a “cause”. And that cause is about a hill to climb and a battle to win to impact the world in some way. Here are some intense causes reflected in mission and vision statements:

Feeding America: A hunger-free America

National Multiple Sclerosis Society: A world free of MS

Alzheimer’s Association: Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s

Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.

 Ducks Unlimited is wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.

 Teach for America: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

One Life Church: to help people far from God, experience Jesus

There-has-never-been-aThe cause is the target and in a nonprofit you are joining the army committed to win the battle. And in it’s purest form it is the ultimate motivating reason that people give their time, talent and resources to the nonprofit world without any self serving return on the investment.

Corporation: While people serve in community to pursue the cause, there is a need to do things with excellence and to efficiently allocate the finite resources to the critical growth path of the nonprofit to accomplish the mission. Systems and structures that properly manage money, facilities, people and resources are essential to every church and nonprofit. By laws, articles of incorporation, budgets, performance reviews, worker discipline, cash flow, accounting, org charts, job descriptions… there is a corporation or business side to the nonprofit world that is essential for sustainability.

These three ideas-community, cause and corporation exist in a dynamic tension. Conflict is normal

The best way I know to expand on the idea to address imbalance in the three areas. Technically you can’t have too much of any of the three areas unless one is disproportionate to the others.

Too much Community….not enough Cause or Corporation– This often happens in the nonprofit or church world when leadership is highly relational, but lacks focus and attention to logistics of the organization. The leader can be a magnet to draw and connect people and they love to serve together, but 5 or 10 years down the road it’s hard to tell what has been accomplished. Supercharged relational leaders must surround themselves with strategic, logistical types to be sure that the “family” is moving the ball down the field and effectively in pursuit of the cause. This happens a lot in churches where over the years they are relationally connected and “like family”, but have lost perspective on their mission and are seeing decline in attendance, income and any semblance of forward movement. If the most significant activities of your organization in a year are the board meetings or pot luck dinners, you might have imbalance in community.

People-love-to-be-usefulToo much Cause…not enough Community or Corporation-This happens with driven leadership. Passion for the cause is very important, but there can be a point where driven leaders use and abuse staff and volunteers. People love to be useful, but they do not want to be used. An imbalance in cause can destroy community and the healthy relationships that sustain the organization. When leaders push so hard that people start to live in guilt mode, the cause will eventually lack support. That also extends to the loss of good corporate practices when the cause gets ahead of resources and accountability of leaders is lacking at dangerous levels. It all has a diminishing effect. A “cause” imbalance is is often happening in organizations where there is a perpetual lack of volunteers and a severe shortage of financial resources.

Too much Coporation…not enough Community or Cause-Often as organizations mature they get more organized. It would be hard to argue with a highly organized nonprofit entity. But if you attend a board meeting of a nonprofit and it is filled with the smallest details of financial discussions with little or no discussion about volunteers and the future vision of the cause, there is a good possibility that the corporation component is out of balance. Organizations that are imbalanced in this area tend to stay focused on keeping things afloat. Growth is not the highest value, preservation is. The leadership is consumed with raising money, cutting costs and funding a budget that keeps the doors open, but does not fuel a vision to ignite progress towards the cause. Volunteers exist in limited numbers, but they are mostly used to raise money and rarely engage in the activities of the mission that created the nonprofit. As a volunteer it’s no fun to be a part of this organization anymore because it’s about survival. This shift often happens as an organization matures and some of the early stakeholders that brought passion and zeal start to yield leadership to logistical organizers and managers. The organization becomes overmanaged and underled.

So there it is.

Community, Cause and Corporation

What if we selected board members with personalities that balance these three ideas? What if we hired staff with attention to all three areas? What if we surrounded the CEO or pastor with people that enhanced any of these characteristics that he or she might be weak in?

A healthy organization is a community of great relationships that march strategically and with focus towards the powerful vision of a worthy cause leveraging accountability to manage resources and people with the excellence of a well led corporation.