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Leadership Gems


Getting REAL: First Christian Church of Newburgh, Indiana Case Study

FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH: Nearly all the client teams we serve have mastered the “smarts” of their industry--things like strategy, products or services, financials and technology. However, the "health" component of organizations, including engagement, unity and culture often receives far less attention.

The client teams we work with are committed to achieving the golden equation of smarts + health = sustainable success. The leadership team at First Christian Church (FC) in Newburgh, Indiana was no exception.

When Holly Gillespie, Executive Director of FC, first reached out to Amie, she shared that personality conflicts, trust issues and lack of clarity had created significant challenges on the leadership team. Throughout the consulting engagement, FC's courageous team showed up in a posture of humility, transparency and deep commitment, which served as critical anchors for their development process.



Following a season of significant change within the church, two executive team members experienced role changes. Through the transition, tensions mounted, leading to confusion and lack of clarity among the entire staff team. Both leaders were intensely committed to the church's mission and vision; however, frustrations made goal attainment unsuccessful.

"Our system of leadership needed the infusion of objective wisdom from a source outside of ourselves," said Kevin Brimner, Lead Pastor at FC. "We were the embodiment of being unable to see the forest for the trees. Our day-to-day details were satisfied, yet we were stumbling over ourselves trying to move forward. Trust was low, false starts hampered momentum and the writing on the wall was an impending implosion."

After a year of serving with willing hearts, but experiencing ongoing challenges and shortfalls, Kevin and Holly independently questioned whether it was time to exit their respective roles for the betterment of the church team and congregation. Knowing the stakes were high, we prayerfully entered into this consulting engagement.

Amie began first with executive coaching for Holly, and then consulted to Kevin and Holly together. As trust and unity developed, consulting advanced to include other staff on FC's senior leadership team. WHO YOU ARE Executive & Team Coach Cheryl Hansen also provided 1:1 coaching for two additional team leaders. Jeff Scales, Elder Board Chair, and others on the Elder Team provided constant support and encouragement.

Catalytic conversations, new discoveries and helpful tools (see resources below) helped the senior leadership team expand their leadership capacity, have real conversations about blind spots, address unproductive behaviors, and learn the disciplines of organizational health.

In the spirit of reaching their mission and vision, FC leveraged a season of leadership pain as an opportunity to grow together, fortify leadership, and build unity.


  • Increase awareness of productive and destructive individual and team behaviors

  • Develop greater cohesion and clarity on the senior leadership team

  • Enhance effective communication and prevent misunderstandings

  • Execute well from shared vision and structure that aligns with team clarity


  • Birkman© Assessments

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team© Assessments

  • Ideal Team Player© Assessments

  • Emotionally Healthy Leadership by Pete Scazzero

  • The Making of a Leader by Dr. J. Robert Clinton


  • Instead of succumbing to perfectionism, people pleasing, or fear of failure, the FC leaders developed vulnerability-based trust, greater appreciation for each other's strengths and distinct leadership styles, and the ability to navigate blind spots together.

  • Instead of engaging in dysfunctional behaviors, team members committed to intentionally focus on building trust, mine for healthy conflict, reach commitment, hold one another accountable and be results-oriented.

  • Instead of avoiding difficult conversations, the FC team now uses rules of engagement they collectively created to guide conversations and ensure dialogues are effective and result in healthy decision-making and buy-in. They appreciate that each person's skillset and personality brings a unique asset.

  • Instead of continuing to operate from a place of confusion and frustration, leadership developed clear priorities and aligned communication strategies.

  • Instead of hosting meetings characterized by uncertainty and indecision, team meetings have become fun and purposeful with efficient outcomes.


At WHO YOU ARE, we believe that being both smart and healthy is the golden combination for long-lasting organizational success. The team at FC has experienced a transformational shift that has strengthened relationships, increased effectiveness and expanded missional impact. As this team has shared, our work was challenging and required leaders to dig deep.

"Our future is still taking shape," Kevin emphasizes. "We've not 'arrived.' But, we are seeing the private victories which always precede public victories. We have incorporated better mental models into our practice of leadership. We've taken critical steps to align short-term decision making with our long-term vision. Collectively, there is a clearer sense of anticipation and expectation as each of us engage in the work of building a healthy organization."

We're grateful for our clients and their dedication to doing relevant, practical and real teamwork that strengthens both individual and organizational leadership.

Congratulations to Kevin, Holly, Jeff and the rest of the First Christian Church team for doing the work needed to accelerate your team toward REAL organizational health!


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