6 Things It Takes to Lead a New Organization

Today, I’m excited to share a conversation with two courageous leaders – Dan Smith and John Gilfillan – who are each rising to the challenge of using their leadership gifts and talents to start new organizations – church plants.

Starting a new venture of any sort is hard work (we have experienced this first hand at Next Level Performance), and statistically, church planting ranks with the likes of restaurants and retail stores as one of the most difficult new organizations to start and successfully sustain. Yet, Dan and John are already off to a strong start. Why? Leadership. In a new organization, everything rises and falls on it, and these two men are both leading well and learning a lot every step of the way.

Dan and John graciously took some time to share the most important things they are learning about leadership through the challenges of starting and leading a new organization.


1. Vision. Vision. Vision.
Casting vision must be a priority for every leader. A clear vision will empower people to sacrifice for the mission. Church planting requires constant vision casting; without it, nothing will get done and no one will get involved. We have been very intentional about casting the vision for City Gate Church because a clearly articulated vision can and will change the world!

2. Establish a foundation

Church planters often have big personalities, which means they can gather a crowd and get people involved. The tendency, and risk, is for church planters to rely on a personality to sustain relationships and the pragmatic to sustain church growth. Personalities can change, and “doing what works” changes with the culture. A healthy church planter will point himself, his family, and others to the Scriptures so the Holy Spirit can work in the lives of people. The pragmatic approach can work, but it may not be faithful to the Word of God. No matter the type of work you are in, establish a foundation that is strong enough for you to lean on.

3. Take risks

Risk taking is the number one reason things change. WIthout leaders daring to dow what has never been done before, nothing will change. Risk taking is the reminder of the “why” for any leader; that moment when a new idea produces fruit will be remembered forever. Risk taking can also be the best teacher. Not all risks will work, but the process of taking a risk, failing, learning, and then taking smarter risks will produce emotionally tough leaders, and emotionally tough leaders are the most effective.

1.Half & Half
If you are going to move anything from dream to reality it takes half courage and half crazy. When your confidence wains, you have to lean on your half crazy. I call it crazy, because to starting a new organization can seem irrational at times. But I believe when you lack confidence, that is the moment when you are keenly aware that you need God.


2. Grit
An often overlooked, unmentioned, and never sexy leadership quality is grit. My brother was a very gifted athlete and I felt lost in his shadow, so I tried the school musical in 8th grade. A few weeks after our performance, a coach walked up to me and said, “Dan, you don’t have to be in the shadow of your brother’s accomplishments.” I am so grateful for that coach because he awakened my inner grit. I didn’t want to be a musician nor did I think I was a good one. I wanted to be an athlete. Grit kept me focused on this goal. Grit took me to the University of Texas to play football. And UT is where I found God. Romans 8:28 says“God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His great purpose.” Grit is in you. Tap into it!

3. Go for “the ask!”
Years ago I met a man who was an executive at Dell when the company exploded onto the scene. I asked him what he attributed the most to his success. I’ll never forget how simple his answer was: “I always asked for the check.” He continued to tell me that he was confident in what they were doing, that their product was amazing, and it was exactly what their customers needed. I believe that what we have to offer at New Life Church is salvation, freedom, restoration, and fulfillment that can only be found in and through Jesus. And we are confident in that to go for “the ask!”So here it goes…will you join us?






































I hope you will join me in following and supporting Dan and John on their leadership journeys to change lives through Jesus Christ. To learn more about Dan’s work with New Life Church check out www.newlifekzoo.com or get plugged in here. To learn more about John’s work with City Gate Church check out www.citygatechurch.cc or get involved here.


Tim Hiller

Tim Hiller is a former collegiate and NFL quarterback who uses the platform of his celebrated football career to serve others—sharing his faith and experiences through speaking, writing, and his work with Next Level Performance—leaving a lasting impact on all who hear his powerful message.

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