An Investment in Christian Leadership


August, 2018

Partner Ministries

Earlier this month, YMCA leaders gathered with hundreds of thousands other leaders worldwide to participate in the Global Leadership Summit.

The US Mission Network has been in partnership with the GLS for the past three years, during which time we have seen a significant increase in YMCA attendees at this annual event.

This year, despite the recent controversy at Willow Creek Church, we continued that partnership, believing in the benefits that are derived by those attending this Christian leadership training opportunity. A good number of YMCA attendees are always in Chicago for the live event, but numerous others gathered in cities all across the country to participate. Here’s just a sampling of their reactions to this year’s summit experience.

We did more than learn: we laughed, cried, cheered and shared at the 2018 Global Leadership Summit hosted at our Y.

Gathered were nearly 70 attendees from a dozen organizations coming from as far away as Charlotte, NC to experience the summit together. A diverse lineup of speakers—entrepreneurs, authors, CEOs, visionaries, and pastors—delivered messages of the value of informed leadership that empowered our thinking, broadened our understanding and touched our hearts.

One attendee at Blue Ridge wrote, “The Summit is special in that there is something for everyone: [the speakers] touch on communication, on emotional intelligence, on the necessity of failure for success … all these are so important to understand when we talk about evolving our leadership.”

Summit attendees spent each day taking in the teachings, stories, and lessons of each speaker, then discussing the themes of the day with their teams and others during breakout times and lunch. A reception followed after the opening day for further discussing, connecting and relaxing.

Another attendee at Blue Ridge wrote, “The great part about the summit is that each speaker has a different message, but they all integrate the different aspects of leadership. You leave here learning to find your purpose, and how to ask people to help you take action along that journey.”

Brandy Perryman, COO of the Dallas YMCA, indicated that they had 40 staff members attend the Summit this year in about four different locations around metro area.

Suzana Delgado-Gray from his team wrote, “Attending the Global Leadership Summit recharged my soul! I was inspired from the moment the first speaker took the stage, the words of wisdom, the stories resonated with me as a leader in an organization that values its leaders. I was reminded of the importance of how we “show up” and how passion can transform the work we do. The teachings were not just applicable to a work environment, but are applicable to home life and just being a better human. In an organization with the mission statement “To put Christian values into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all,” it perfectly aligns with the work we are doing in communities around the world! Leadership is not about a title, a job or an act, it’s about connecting with people, showing empathy and knowing we all have influence and a voice.”

Another member of the Dallas team, Jodi Newman, wrote, “It is such a blessing to be able to work for an organization that values its leaders so much to allow us to take the time off to recharge and be refueled at the 2018 Global Leadership Summit, being reminded how to influence others, especially in a world filled today with such uncertainty and negativity. Our world needs strong, consistent, bold, integrity-filled leaders who will cast positive visions, inspire, strive for excellence, apologize when wrong, speak up for those that have no voice and with a furious resolve work to unite rather than divide. I love that our leadership at the YMCA believes that when leaders get better, people get stronger—and our organization gets stronger, just as our opening speaker, Craig Groeschel, reminded us. The summit provided a variety of speakers with different points of view in how to “better ourselves” from self care (Angela Ahrendts’ interview with John Maxwell) to learning from our mistakes and how to focus on the “hospitality” portion of service not just the “technical side” (Danny Meyer’s talk). I walked away from GLS18 feeling truly inspired in the role I have at the YMCA, inspired to better in every aspect of my life, and excited to share my learnings with others in hopes as having a truly positive influence on their leadership as well.

The Global Leadership Summit, hosted by the Willow Creek Association, continues to be a rich learning experience for YMCA of the Triangle staff and volunteers. The 2018 GLS was no exception. Nearly 100 Y leaders engaged at two locations in Durham and Garner, North Carolina. This year participants were encouraged by the focus on influence, inspiration and leading with integrity.

The summit speakers always inspire our teams to invest in our organization with a renewed energy. Over the next year, we will be discussing success and innovation along with hospitality, and how to be, as Craig Groeschel said, “a leader who is real, rather than a leader who is always right.”

The challenge of leadership is real, and the messiness we encounter along the journey is inevitable. The summit is a welcome reminder that we are surrounded by fellow travelers who seek to follow Jesus and who strive to become better leaders in the process.

At the US Mission Network, we look forward to growing our partnership with the Global Leadership Summit in years to come. We are especially excited to see a number of YMCAs considering the option to serve as a premier host site for their local community. If you need more information, please contact Larry Whittlesey at