faculty/look who's coming
Senior Pastor, Eastside Christian Church
Gene Appel, senior pastor of Eastside Christian Church, Anaheim, CA, began his ministry as a 20 year old intern at Eastside. After moving on to pastor two of the largest churches in the nation—Central Christian Church, Las Vegas, NV and Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL—he returned in 2008 to lead Eastside into it’s next dynamic chapter. Since that time Eastside has become one of America’s fastest growing churches and relocated in November of 2012 from Fullerton to a new campus in Anaheim.
Following in the footsteps of his late father, a pastor and Christian leader, Gene sensed God’s call on his life to ministry at an early age. He received a B.A. degree in Preaching Ministry from Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois and has done additional graduate work at Lincoln Christian Seminary and Hope International University, who has conferred upon him an honorary Doctor of Divinity.
Recognized by many as a gifted leader with a passion for following Christ and a sensitivity for hurting people, Gene has coached church leaders from around the world on how to lead churches through healthy change. He is co-author of the book, How to Change Your Church without Killing It, and authored Dream Intruders and Healing Hidden Hurts. Additionally, he was an award winning television commentator on CBS2 in Chicago
Gene, his wife Barbara and their daughters Alayna and Jenna reside in Orange County. Their adult son Jeremy lives in Chicago. Gene’s hobbies include boating, fishing, and water skiing.
Lead Team Pastor, Southeast Christian Church Louisville KY
Greg Allen is a passionate worship leader and teacher who leads the Worship, Multi-Site and Communications teams at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY where he’s been on staff for 28 years. He has extensive experience on the national and local worship scene, has been a host on the Worship Network (part of PAX-TV), is working with the Worship Network to create worship resources “from the church to the church”, and teaches a graduate course in Worship at Hope International Church in Southern California. He loves leading worship in any setting where people want to be stunned by the glory of God.
Church Planter, Senior Pastor, Verve Las Vegas
Guy grows up in home with Jewish mother and gambling addict father, guy becomes a Christian in college by trying to prove the Bible isn’t true, guy leaves career in law to become a pastor, guy starts church in Virginia Beach that grows from four people to hundreds, guy leaves church in Virginia Beach to move to Las Vegas to start Verve, a church for people who work on and live around the Vegas Strip. There's nothing typical about this church planter or the church that he serves, Verve.
Senior Pastor, Christ Community Church, Omaha
Mark Ashton serves as the Lead Pastor of Christ Community Church, a Christian and Missionary Alliance church in Omaha, Nebraska with over 4,000 in weekly attendance. Mark began at CCC on April 1, 2006 teaching in a multi-venue environment and providing leadership and direction to a staff of 50. His 20 years of ministry experience include serving as the Pastor of Spiritual Discovery at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL and as an Evangelism Specialist for InterVarsity Fellowship in Champaign, IL.
Mark joins us in March as part of our third annual Church Leadership Conference.
Programming/Production VP & Teaching Pastor, Willow Creek Community
Nancy Beach is executive vice president of programming and production for the Willow Creek Association and a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church. A champion for the arts and artists in the church, she is the author of An Hour on Sunday: Creating Moments of Transformation and Wonder. Nancy holds a master’s degree in communication from Wheaton College. She lives in Barrington, Illinois, with her husband, Warren, and her two daughters, Samantha and Johanna.
Worship Leader, Bayside Community Church
Lincoln is the worship pastor at Bayside Church in Granite Bay. We are thrilled to have him and his band/audio guy on campus to guest lecture in worship arts and to do a gathering with local leaders. Local church leadership is what Lincoln is all about.
“My mom loved music and played with local bands,” he says. “She was the one who inspired my love for singing and playing instruments.”
As Brewster bonded with his mom through music, he began mastering a variety of instruments —including a stunning prowess on the guitar. It was this incredible talent that caught the attention of mainstream labels, landed Brewster a “gig” playing with rocker Steve Perry (formerly of the band Journey) and earned him a mainstream record contract by age 19.
Worship Leader, Saddleback Church, CA
John has a heart for the church and is a great team builder. After helping a small church in New England dramatically change and become more reach-oriented (and grow!) he went to the "other coast" and is now serving as the Worship Leader at Saddleback Community Church.
Lead Minister, Journey Christian Church, Greeley, Colorado
Arron joyfully serves as the Lead Minister at Journey Christian Church in Greeley, Colorado. The author of five books (with three more in the works) he leads a young and energetic staff who are not afraid to do the different kinds of things a church must do to reach a different kind of people.
Senior Pastor, Discovery Church, Broomfield CO
Steve Cuss was born in Western Australia and raised completely outside the church until God got a hold of him as a teenager. He came to Christ through the outreach of a high school teacher who volunteered as a youth minister in a small fundamentalist church. He came to the United States to study theology and for adventure and he has a B.A. in preaching from Johnson University and an M. Div from Emmanual Seminary, as well as a beautiful wife and 3 kids who make him laugh. Steve has served in full-time ministry for 18 years as a youth minister in a Virginia tobacco town, a Chaplain in a level one trauma hospital, a teacher at a residential youth ranch and a crisis interventionist in a Las Vegas mega church. Far and away, his toughest ministry role has been lead pastor of a young suburban church which he has served for the last 7 years. It should be noted that Steve also spent a summer logging trees with Dr Kelvin Jones. Steve and his older sister are the only followers of Christ in several generations of his family. He loves to talk to people about Jesus, especially people who think the church is crazy, angry, out of touch and for ignorant people. He loves local church ministry most of the time.
Worship and Arts Coordinator, Bethany Church Raymond NH
A 2010 graduate of Nebraska Christian Katie returned to New Hampshire to do ministry after having completed an internship at Manchester Christian Church with John Cassetto (now at Saddleback). Katie is one of the worship leaders for Bethany, a growing multi-site church in New England.
Student Ministry, Madison Park Church, Quincy, IL
With a Masters in Leadership with emphasis on Curriculum and Instruction, Keith took a challenge from a mentor to heart years ago to use his skill set for the church. On staff at Madison Park for 28 years now he has seen the church grow from 200 to over 1100 today. He oversees students and children.
Placement Specialist, Slingshot Group
Born and raised in Tasmania, Australia, Tim Foot is the worship pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church in Colorado, where under his tenure, they have added two satellite worship locations, continued to honor the pioneers of the church with a traditional worship venue, and stayed on the modern edge with their main campus worship experience.
Dr. Amy Hanson is a speaker, writer, and consultant with a passion to help older adults discover a life of Christ-centered meaning and purpose.
She speaks throughout the United States to pastors, health care professionals, and older adults on the unique needs and opportunities of a graying America.
At the age of 23, Amy became the full-time active adult minister at Central Christian Church in Las Vegas, Nevada where for five years she led a ministry of over three hundred adults fifty and older.
Senior Pastor, Antoich Christian Church
John came to Antioch in 2001. He and his wife Gail have 4 children. John is currently working on a Doctorate in Leadership at Trinity Theological Seminary. He enjoys spending time with his family and participating in outdoor adventures such as hiking, camping, fishing and sports. John does not consider himself to be a theologian, but simply believes that we find the answers to life’s questions in the Word of God, the Bible.
Creative Director, First Christian Church, Huntington Beach CA
Drummer, Singer, Producer, Videographer, Story Teller, Preacher, Worship Leader, Graphic Artist, Actor, Humorist, Friend, Father, Husband...we could go on...he currently serves as the lead creative at a dynamic church on the beach in So Cal. (yes, someone has to do it)
Senior Pastor, CrossPoint Church, Houston TX
Bill is the Sr. & founding pastor of Crosspoint Community Church in Katy, TX; the founding leader of FiveTwo, a "how to" network for sacramental church planters; a husband to Julie; and a father of three: Timothy, Abigail & Samuel. He is a constant voice of change, leadership, and encouragement to every leader around him.
Worship Leader, Willow Creek Community
Becky Ykema is currently on staff as a worship leader and vocal director at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. Shortly after finishing college, she joined staff at Park Community Church in Chicago, IL to help develop and lead their evening worship service. Becky has released three independent albums and is working on a fourth album, a collaborative project of hymns.