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Gene Appel

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.

Vince Antonucci

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.

Mark Ashton

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.

Greg Atkinson

Campus Pastor, Forest Park, Carthage, Missouri

Greg Atkinson has been in ministry for more than two decades and has been writing, speaking and training thousands of church leaders since 2000. He is an author, speaker, coach and the Campus Pastor at one of Forest Park campuses, a multi-site church based in Joplin, Mo. Greg is also the new Editor of Christian Media Magazine ( You can visit his blog at and check out his brand new book Church Leadership Essentials from Rainer Publishing.

Nancy Beach

Programming/ 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.

Lincoln Brewster

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.

John Cassetto

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.

Arron Chambers

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.

Steve Cuss

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.

Stan Endicott

Worship Leader, Mariners Church

Stan Endicott is a nationally recognized, deeply respected and beloved Worship Pastor, Music Producer and Mentor to hundreds of young leaders. He has served ten years part-time on the worship staff at Mariners church in Irvine, Ca.

Jason Epperson

Next Gen Teaching Pastor, Southeast Christian, Louisville, KY

NC alumn, Jason Epperson, is the Next Gen teaching pastor at one of the largest churches in America. His passion to see the next generation of students in leadership of the church is contagious.

Tim Foot

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.

Virgil Grant

Senior Pastor, Eastside Community Church Richmond KY

Virgil began full-time ministry in 1990 and became senior pastor of Eastside Community Church, just south of Lexington, KY. He has been involved with Next Level for the past five years providing leadership development and training for churches across America. Virgil continues to serve as Eastside's Lead Pastor while traveling around the country.

Amy Hanson

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.

Chad Hunt

Lead Pastor, Caveland Community Church

Chad is currently the Senior Pastor of Caveland Church in Cave City, KY (north of Nashville). Chad has a heart for helping churches be on mission and reach-oriented in small towns.

Ron Leach

Kids Ministry Pastor, FlatIrons Church, Boulder CO

Seeing 2,500 children every week and 1,500 volunteers every month isn't easy, but it is worth it. Ron is a builder by nature and can build a team and turn the chaos into something sustainable and effective.

John Seitz

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.

Bill Woolsey

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.