Key Takeaways from XPS 2024: Navigating Organizational Doubt, Leadership Stages & Target Audiences

This week, we delve into the highlights of the XP Summit 2024, or XPS, as it’s affectionately known within the executive pastor community. Held at the vibrant Flatirons Church in Denver, this year’s event was a powerhouse of insights, connections, and practical takeaways for church leaders. Here are some key points from my solo podcast episode recapping the event.

The Essence of XPS

The XP Summit is an annual gathering that brings together executive pastors from across the country to share, learn, and grow. While the content is always top-notch, what truly sets XPS apart is the emphasis on building lasting relationships. It’s not just about what you learn, but who you meet. These connections become invaluable when navigating the inevitable challenges of church leadership.

Organizational Doubt: A Model for Understanding

One of the standout sessions was led by Jesse DeYoung, the lead executive pastor at Flatirons Church. Jesse unpacked a fascinating model for understanding organizational doubt, breaking it down into five levels:

  1. Suspended Doubt: Complete confidence in the organization.
  2. Operational Doubt: Questions about the efficiency of processes.
  3. Ideological Doubt: Concerns about the mission and relevance of the organization.
  4. Ethical Doubt: Doubts about the integrity or capability of leadership.
  5. Absolute Doubt: Pervasive doubt affecting all aspects of the organization.

Jesse emphasized the importance of addressing doubts early, as unresolved doubts can escalate, ultimately leading to disengagement or departures. A key takeaway was that individuals often express doubt one level higher than they actually feel, making it crucial to dig deeper into their concerns.

Check out Jesse’ past podcast: Rebuilding a Team Culture That Was Broken with Jesse DeYoung

Leadership Stages: Seasons of Contribution

Lee Coates from Las Vegas presented a compelling framework for understanding the different stages of leadership based on age and contribution:

  1. Prince/Princess (18-25 years): Driven by passion and curiosity but prone to entitlement.
  2. Warrior/Warrioress (25-40 years): Focused on energy and purpose, with burnout as a potential dark side.
  3. King/Queen (40-60 years): Valued for experience and direction but must guard against disengagement.
  4. Sage/Muse (60+ years): Offer wisdom and advisory support, yet must avoid pushing personal agendas.

Lee highlighted the importance of recognizing and nurturing the unique contributions of leaders at each stage, ensuring a balanced and effective team.

Check out Lee’s past episode: Reflecting on Seasons of Life, Leadership & Their Impact on Your Team with Lee Coate

Target Audiences: Actual vs. Aspirational

Kayra Montañez from Liquid Church shared insightful strategies on identifying and targeting different audience segments. Liquid Church focuses on both actual and aspirational target audiences to align their ministry efforts effectively. The key groups they are addressing include:

  1. Millennial Moms: Helping them navigate the chaos of daily life.
  2. 20-Somethings: Supporting them through the challenges of adulting.
  3. Men in Midlife (Aspirational): Addressing the struggles of midlife crises.
  4. Singles Seeking Support (Aspirational): Providing a community for singles across all age groups.

By clearly defining these audiences, Liquid Church can tailor its outreach and support efforts, ensuring they meet the needs of their community effectively.


XPS 2024 was a treasure trove of insights and practical advice for executive pastors. From understanding and managing organizational doubt to recognizing the unique contributions of leaders at different stages and targeting key audience segments, the takeaways were both profound and actionable.

If you missed this year’s event, I highly encourage you to register for XPS 2025, which will be held at Bridge Church in Franklin, Tennessee. Don’t miss the chance to connect with fellow leaders, gain new insights, and build relationships that will support you throughout your ministry journey.


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.