Leading for the Future: A Conversation
In May, Dr. Jeremy Campbell joined Global Disciples as North America President. Sherry Lee, Marketing and Communications leader, talked with Jeremy and CEO Galen Burkholder about this new position.
Sherry: Global Disciples is 27 years old, but we only now hired a North America President. Why?
Galen: Well, up to this point, we had a shared CFO and COO role that Howard Rich was filling. For many organizations with budgets of less than $10 million, the idea of having a shared COO and CFO is pretty common. But it really has become an overload for Howard to carry both of these roles.
Prior to COVID, we had hired someone for the COO role who never started. So, after COVID, we took our own shot at finding a North America President. It didn’t happen immediately, so we asked North Group Consultants to help us. And we’re very pleased that Jeremy is with us.
Sherry: Jeremy, are you responsible for all of North America?
Jeremy: The U.S. is the primary responsibility, but there is a liaison-type partnership with our Canadian counterparts as well. I don’t think we look for opportunities to leverage best practices and to help each other out. There are definitely some differences between the U.S. and Canada, but there are a lot of similarities as well. And so, if my role can help be a bridge between the two organizations, I’d like to think we would benefit from that.
Sherry: Does Jeremy’s appointment mean that you are retiring, Galen?
Galen: No, it doesn’t—not yet. It means that Jeremy’s picking up most of Howard’s COO responsibilities. And, at Howard’s request, I have at times helped him out with some things in that area. But hiring Jeremy allows me to focus my full energy on the international development of the organization.
I have been working with an organizational development and continuity team for the last six years – working on defining my transition schedule as CEO. So, that will happen sometime within the next one to three years.
My hope is to continue to be an ambassador for Global Disciples as long as I can. So, if I step out of a CEO role in a year or in two, my desire would be to continue to be an advocate and ambassador for Global Disciples.
Sherry: How many staff do you have in North America?
Galen: I think there are 35 of us.
Sherry: That’s not a large number, so why does Global Disciples need a North America President?
Galen: Well, we have 186 people serving globally. So, most are living in their homelands in other countries. And one of the challenges we have as we grow is to continue to increase and strengthen our marketing communications and fundraising. So, if we’re going to keep up with multiplication internationally, we need to not only strengthen our national foundations in other parts of the world but also to see some patterns of multiplication in financial support here in North America.
When we started in 1996, there were five training programs. It took us 21 years to go from five training programs in three countries to 1,000 training programs in about 60 countries. And then in another four years, we went from 1,000 to 2,000 training programs. Within the last two years, we have surpassed 3,000 training programs. So, multiplication continues to accelerate. We have periodically touched the brakes when rapid multiplication starts tilting toward exponential growth. All of a sudden, multiplication is happening so rapidly that we can’t keep up with developing leaders. This is one of those years where we have touched the brakes a bit. We anticipate fewer new programs developing. Some of that obviously has to do with our financial reality. But it was also part of our plan for the last year to slow things down.
Last year, we were catching up on some requests that had come during the COVID years. And so, we were trying to do all that we could to catch up from that accumulation of requests for programs and clusters of churches.
Sherry: Galen, you have stated that Jeremy is tasked with increasing awareness and support in the organization’s effort to become nationally known and supported. What do you mean by “nationally known and supported”?
Galen: One of our commitments as Global Disciples is to continue to broaden our prayer base. And in order for people to pray, they need to be aware. In order for people to give, they need to be aware. So, we would like to see Global Disciples become a bit of a household name in many communities across the country.
We understand that that’s not going to happen overnight. But we think the more awareness we can raise of what God is doing, the more enthusiastic people will be about praying, giving generously, and sharing what’s happening with their friends. I want to see us build a whole network of volunteer advocacy, across the country in the areas where God opens the doors so that we see generous financial and prayer support.
Sherry: Jeremy, how does increasing awareness and support translate into a workable North America strategy?
Jeremy: That’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Our focus here in the U.S. has been how do we expand geographically? So how do we give more people the opportunity to partner with us, as Galen said, to make them aware? We’re giving them an opportunity in Central Pennsylvania.
Global Disciples was founded in Pennsylvania and our partners here have been fantastic through our history in financial giving and prayer support. Over the years, we found individuals and churches outside of Pennsylvania who also became fantastic partners with us. Millions of dollars every year are given generously by men and women who really believe in what we’re doing. And we believe there are willing partners like that in other states as well. It would be selfish of us to keep it right here. So, we want to expand geographically and engage more believers across the country.
We also want to engage that next generation of donors. We’re 27 years in and we still have a lot of donors who have been with us from the beginning or for significant periods of time. We want to engage their family members and others to partner with us for the next 20 years and beyond.
But we have a major focus on our current donors and partners as well. How do we continue to be in touch with them and engage them in what is happening? To show them the fruits of their labors?
Sherry: So, if you were to highlight one thing you could do to move the needle on increasing awareness and support for Global Disciples, what would it be?
Jeremy: Well, I think Galen spoke to this earlier when he mentioned a network of volunteer advocates. Especially as we expand, it’s not going to be possible for a Global Disciples staff member to be present everywhere, all the time. So, to have that network of volunteer advocates and intercessors is going to be really critical for our ongoing success.
Sherry: How would someone let Global Disciples know that they were interested in being part of such a volunteer team?
In the long term, we would hope that some of those advocates would become so excited about what God is doing through Global Disciples that they would want to step into a staff role in their area.
Sherry: Jeremy, what’s the first thing you did in your new role?
Jeremy: I spent two weeks in Africa and in Asia. It was quite the orientation. It was a fantastic way to get introduced to the organization.
Galen: I did a little calculation and discovered that in the first two weeks – counting the people that Jeremy met here in the U.S. – he had exposure to 96 percent of our staff. Really, it’s pretty amazing!
Sherry: Jeremy, what did you expect to find when you joined?
Jeremy: A team of committed men and women really passionate about the mission and vision of this organization. It was Incredible meeting our staff members in Africa and in Asia. To see and hear from them how their lives are impacted by our organization, and how they carry out the work of our organization. But then to come back here and see the commitment our Lancaster team has to delivering the goals set before us with excellence . . . It’s been encouraging!
Sherry: Your parents were missionaries in Papua New Guinea. So, in a way, you’re following in their footsteps. But why not go with a traditional missions organization that sends missionaries rather than one who uses near-culture workers? Also, could you define what “near-culture” means for those who might not be familiar with that term?
Jeremy: Well, I think that when it comes to reaching the least-reached, the near-culture approach to me is the most effective. There are other outreaches, other types of work you may be called to do where another missions organization might make the most sense. But for me, the idea of a near-culture focus where we work with men and women who are from either the country itself where the least-reached are that we’re targeting or are from a neighboring country where they have similar cultures and languages . . . that is just so much more effective. Also given governmental restrictions and oppression, this is the model to follow.
For those of us in churches with a missional background, we think about the 10/40 window – those countries across the northern portion of Africa through the Middle East and Central Asia. Those represent a pretty significant number of areas where the unreached are. Statistics suggest that around 90 percent of the people who are unreached with the Gospel are in places where it’s not easy to go.
Sherry: You also hold a Human Resources role globally. How does that fit in the North America role?
Jeremy: Well, it certainly fits with my background. My education initially was in HR . . . and my early career. I then moved into more leadership roles. Overall, it’s an addition to the North America President role, not necessarily a natural part. But in order for us to do the work we are trying to do both here in the U.S. (and really our work around the world), we need a team of our staff members who feel like they are cared for. That they are respected and valued. And that they’ve been placed in roles where they can flourish. That’s what HR works to do.
Sherry: Galen, what one thing do you want our Global Disciples prayer partners and financial supporters to know about Jeremy?
Galen: I think Jeremy comes with a heart and a passion for what Global Disciples has been about from the beginning. He is committed to lending his background, expertise, and experience to strengthening our team. To do what God has called us to do better. So, there’s a common heart and passion that I sense with Jeremy, that aligns with who we have been and what God is calling us to be. Which makes me really excited about the privilege of working together.
Big Book Giveaway!
Subscribe to Global Disciple’s Stories between now and May 28, 2023, and be entered in the drawing to win one of 10 copies of the book, Ordinary Disciples, Extraordinary Influence—signed by the authors! Names will be drawn on May 2 (for all April entries), and May 30 (for all May entries).
"*" indicates required fields
Meeting Needs One by One
People often come to Global Disciples’ training with a need. As God equips them for His Kingdom work, He is also meeting their needs through training.
Stewards and God’s Provision
"The stories of God’s provision, care, and presence among His people, and humanity’s consistent rejection of Him help me realize how difficult it is to keep my eyes and desire on the Creator instead of the creation."
What Is a Disciple?
A disciple is someone who is with Jesus and learning to be like Him. “Disciple” is a status.
THE REACH: Living Life in Community
The passion of THE REACH comes primarily from working together to fulfill the Great Commission to take the Good News of Christ to all nations!
A Lifeline for Your Estate Plan
Doing something that feels daunting or mundane--like estate planning--is easier with a friend or two.
The Joy of Transformation
We eagerly expect to see the Holy Spirit do his transforming work—and it often begins during the training as those who believe in Jesus discover what it means to His disciple.
Worship Propels Our Mission
In worship, we receive His burden for the lost, and His empowerment to go.
Change Lives–Even Yours!
We feel good when we give or serve. But many of us want to do much more than give a little and “feel good.”
Making It Possible…
Over time, even small gifts can have a big impact.
It’s for All of Us
Followers of Christ around the world are seeking to fulfill this mission, eager to do whatever they can to reach those who are still waiting for the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Give monthly, reach the world…
Join our community of monthly donors bringing the hope of Jesus to least-reached people groups around the world.