August 2012


A Sprinkling of Notes
By John Ashmen

Earlier this month, Willow Creek Association held its annual Global Leadership Summit. An estimated 160,000 church and ministry leaders attended via satellite linkup in various cities. It’s likely some of you participated.

August has been a full month at AGRM (and it’s still not over!). I was not going to attend the Summit, but because the venue in Colorado Springs was just across the creek—literally a stone’s throw away—I was able to get into a few of the sessions.

Several antidotes and one-liners from keynote speakers hit their mark with me. In fact, I’ve already passed a few of them on to your peers during conversations I’ve had since the summit.

For this issue of Executive Session, I decided to spare you the dunk of a longer article and sprinkle you instead with a few of my Global Leadership Summit notes. Read each one and then ponder it for a few minutes. I have no doubt that many will hit their mark with you, too.   

Bill Hybels:

“God didn’t make you a leader to respond to stuff every day. He made you a leader to move your organization forward.”

“Don’t make a case for why you must move [your organization] to a new level until you build the case for why you can’t stay where you are.”

Condoleezza Rice:

 “Don’t focus on today’s headlines. Today’s headlines and history’s judgment are rarely the same.”

 “Someone who is willing to do almost anything [to achieve his or her goals] is very dangerous.”

 “Don’t play the resignation card unless you plan to use it.”

 Jim Collins:

“Creativity comes naturally. Discipline does not. But discipline helps us get rid of the stuff that stands in the way of creativity.”

“Your organization is not truly great unless it is great without you.”

Craig Groeschel:

“God values maturity. If you’re not dead, you’re not done.”

“Do not just delegate tasks to the next generation, because that only produces followers. Instead, delegate authority, because that produces leaders.”

 “Honoring publically results in influence privately.”

William Ury:

“When you’re angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”

“One of the greatest powers we have in negotiation is the power not to react.”

“President Lincoln was called out by a woman who was angry that he was providing assistance to the opposition. She told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to destroy his enemies, not pander to them. Lincoln pondered [this and] then responded slowly, ‘Madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?’”


I have two things to share with you in this section. The first is a brief final reminder about the upcoming CEO Summit in New York City, September 25 to 27. The second is a powerful reminder of why AGRM puts energy into helping launch missions.

With the CEO Summit a little over a month away, CEOs seem to be rushing to register—better late than never! Three signed up just last week. We are now using our overflow hotel (where I and Board Chair Brad Meuli will be staying).

We made one change to the program: AGRM Government Liaison Rhett Butler will not conduct a session about post-election action steps. That time slot will instead be used for a session titled “A Frank Talk about the Four Biggest Secrets of CEOs.”

On the last day of the summit, we will join 1,500 city ministry leaders in Manhattan for something called Movement Day. AGRM will be featured, along with World Vision, the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association, and other national ministries. There will be some unforgettable speakers, including Tim Keller.

Mission executive directors and presidents: If you would like to get one of the last spots, go to the CEO Summit page; look for registration information at the bottom, and follow the instructions. You can also call Lisa Miller at (719) 266-8300, extension 107.


The second thing I want to share with you in this section is the burdening I am again having for something that has been called expansion—starting missions where people desperately need them.

Yesterday I was in Portland, Maine, the state’s largest city with a downtown population of 66,000 and a metro population of half a million. Homelessness there is overwhelming. It seems like all of the evangelical churches have moved out of downtown. The stately brick building that once housed First Baptist—a place I remember from my college days—is now a restaurant. On Exchange Street, a homeless hippie sells his slapdash lighthouse paintings on pieces of slate that used to be the roof of another grand church.

Portland, Maine, has no gospel rescue mission.

I parked my car and immediately met Susan, a 40-something, tidy, well-educated New Englander who can’t believe she is living on the streets. Ten months ago, she inherited her husband’s debt when he passed away, causing her to lose her house. Without an abode, she soon lost her job. She was trying to make her way to Nova Scotia to connect with distant relatives. I dialed Michelle Porter (who, with her husband, Ken, recently started an expansion mission in that province), and handed Susan the phone. The two talked for a while and exchanged contact information. Susan now has a place to land when she reaches Nova Scotia. “I think God sent you to me,” said Susan as I finished praying for her journey.

The night before, I had learned that a Down East friend would be passing through Portland with family members. We made arrangement to reconnect. While waiting for them at the appointed intersection, I met Chris, age 20, and his girlfriend, Jess, 17. He tried to sell me an iPod he said he had found. He was asking five dollars.

I struck up a conversation with the two of them. A sandwich the afternoon before was the last meal they had. I told them I’d buy them lunch when my friend arrived. Having no prior appointments, they accepted my offer. To kill time, we rounded the block and talked.

Chris’s father and mother are separated. His father has no room for him and his mother refuses to house him. He’s too old to stay at the city-run youth shelter and has had a couple of bad experiences at the overcrowded city-run adult and family shelter.

Jess’ home life is unspeakable. She said it was safer to be on the streets with Chris than with her mother and stepfather. (Her birth father was killed in a botched drug deal.) The two slept under an army blanket in a city park the night before.

In the window of a Five Guys burger restaurant, Jess saw a sign advertising a part-time job. The three of us went in and she got an application from the manager. As we sat down at a table so she could fill it out, I noticed for the first time her fingernails: They were various lengths and caked with dirt.

I proofed her application and made a few suggestions. Jess placed the application on the counter; the manager came by and picked it up. After a brief scan, she asked Jess if she could come back on Tuesday for an interview. With an expression of high expectations, Jess said she could.

As we walked out, I envisioned the interview ending abruptly when the manager got a glimpse of this potential food handler’s fingernails.

“Have you ever had a manicure, Jess?” I asked.

The way she dragged out the word “no,” you would have thought I asked her if she had ever been to the moon.

When my friend arrived, the four of us grabbed a quick bite at an outdoor table. We then walked Chris and Jess to her first manicure. It was indeed an alien experience for her. She chose deep crimson.

As Jess was being pampered, I said goodbye to my friend and her family. Chris and I then stepped outside.

“I would have never believed today was going to be like this,” Chris said. Stealing a line from Susan, he added, “God sent you to us.”

“Chris, do you have a relationship with God?” I asked.

He shrugged.

I told Chris about the open arms of Jesus. He listened intently and asked questions about prayer.

Eventually, Jess joined us, staring at her widespread fingers, tipped with filed, cleaned, painted nails. A tear escaped her eye and tumbled down her cheek. Chris wiped it away.

As we said goodbye, he reached in his pocket and pulled out the iPod. “I want to give you this for being so kind to us,” Chris said. I insisted that he keep it. I told him he could use whatever he got for it to buy Jess a touch-up in a week or so. They both smiled.

I wish I could tell you that I dropped them off at the local rescue mission where they met a counselor or caseworker—someone to continue to unfold the gospel for them. But there is no rescue mission in Portland, Maine.

At least not yet.


If you want to know about expansion possibilities in North America, contact Selena Hayle at

Also, keep in mind that the new mission in Halifax, Nova Scotia, needs your continued support. The Porters are accomplishing much, but much still needs to be done. Send your gift, designated for Halifax, to AGRM.


Jess with Chris, showing off her newly manicured nails

Association of Gospel Rescue Missions l