Meet Dr. Mark Harden, new president of Ashland Theological Seminary


In 1985, Dr. Mark Harden was beginning a career in law enforcement, serving the Detroit metro area. Uniquely, he brought a commitment to ministry to this public servant role, as well. The two callings unquestionably strengthened the outreach and community service offerings Dr. Harden was able to create and offer in his law enforcement role. They also helped to lay the foundation for his informed, diverse and proven approach to seminary leadership.


Joel Sims: a son’s legacy — and a father’s foundation

Pastor Joel Sims and his wife, Peppi

At 33, Pastor Joel Sims of Word of Life Church in Flowood, MS, has already served in executive church leadership for more than a decade. He has also undertaken $29.4 million in construction projects — some completed, and some just beginning.

By anyone’s standards, Joel is a young pastor with a big, big job.


Lawrence Fudge: helping Hollywood feel like home at MOSAIC


Ask most people, and they’ll say the appeal of MOSAIC — a world-regarded Millennial-revered church in the heart of Hollywood — is, in some ways, intangible. Executive Pastor Lawrence Fudge would agree … to a point.


The CE Interview: Chris Hodges

Chris Hodges has a heart for training and equipping pastors and leaders. Every year, he and his team host the Grow Leadership Intensive where they provide practical training for church leaders from around the world.

In February 2001, Chris Hodges founded Church of the Highlands with a launch team of 34 people. Today, nearly 15 years later, around 30,000 attendees gather to worship each weekend in its multiple locations throughout Central Alabama.


The CE Interview: Debi Nixon

Debi Nixon thanks donors to the 10,000 Reasons capital campaign. Members of Church of the Resurrection pledged $63 million to the building plan.

Debi Nixon wears many hats at Church of the Resurrection, a United Methodist congregation of nearly 20,000 members. Her title is broad in scope; but to put it succinctly, she’s a connective leader, helping the church implement its vision and move forward in the right direction.




Jonathan Stockstill was 30 years old when his father, the Rev. Larry Stockstill, turned over to him the leadership of Bethany Church. Interestingly, Larry was the same age as Jonathan when he took over for his dad, who founded the church in 1963.

Jonathan has led music at Bethany since he was 17. He says he always felt that he would be in full-time ministry, but it was not until he was in his mid-20s that he began to sense a pastoral call upon his life. At the time, he was leading worship and traveling with a band called Deluge. He wrote songs, recorded projects and did music tours, but he says God was dealing with him about a different kind of ministry. Jonathan also did several evangelistic crusades and went through a season where he felt he might plant a church in his late ‘30s.

“But God had a different plan,” he says.




Mark Mellen was 26 years old and a homeless drug addict when God called him out of misery into a life of purpose. After finishing college with a degree in finance, he went to Bethel Seminary and graduated with a master’s of arts in theological studies.

The best learnings, however, came from ministry experiences and mentorship from church leaders who, Mellen says, “took a shot on me.”


The CE Interview: MATT CHANDLER — The Intentional Builder


There’s a sense of newness one can quickly surmise about Matt Chandler: a new urgency to preach the gospel in the aftermath of a victorious but very difficult bout with cancer; a back-to-the-roots commitment to planting healthy churches following his recent appointment as president of Acts 29 Network; and a rising influence as a young church leader.


The CE Interview: MARI BETH POOR — finding solutions by serving


As iServe pastor, Mari Beth Poor oversees the “on the mountain” ministries that enhance the overall experience of people attending Sunday worship services at Mountaintop Community Church. These include guest services, student ministries, children’s ministry, and worship and media. She also leads the church’s “off the mountain” community efforts and global outreach.


Aligning budget with vision


In 2002, Christina Borja accepted an office manager job at National Community Church (NCC) thinking she’d keep at it for six months to a year. But the position developed and soon she was helping lead pastor Mark Batterson with the books. Under her financial leadership, NCC’s annual budget has grown from $200,000 in 2004 to $7.3 million this year.