Religion, Spiritual Development


Cary, NC


To cultivate Christ-centered leaders through story, symbol, and song to unleash the whole Gospel in local communities.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Rick Sessoms

Main Address

Po Box 3

Cary, NC 27512 USA


leader development





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Christian (X20)

Adult, Continuing Education (B60)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Garden Project

Where we work

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Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

FTL focuses on Christ-centered leadership competencies and objectives derived primarily from the principles and practices exemplified in the life and leadership of Jesus among His followers. Additional principles and practices are highlighted from character studies and stories from the Old and New Testaments, which complement the core leadership principles of Jesus. Culturally appropriate story, symbol, and song are used to support these biblical principles and practices among storycentric communities.

The FTL objectives are defined within ten core competencies. These competencies are woven throughout eight modules with intentional repetition. Specific attitudes, behaviors, and skills which flow out of the competencies are discussed and practiced in each of the module sessions, and then modeled and evaluated in peer mentoring and coaching relationships between the modules. The core competencies are as follows:

• Cultivate character

• Model authentic relationships

• Inspire a shared vision

• Challenge people and processes

• Ensure a healthy organizational culture

• Facilitate interpersonal and organizational communication

• Implement strategic planning

• Consider the individual

• Develop people

• Advance cooperative partnerships

Freedom to Lead International's program is called The Garden Project. This program consists of intensive modules, intentional mentoring, and indigenous music. The goal is to cultivate effective Christ-centered leaders who are best able to influence the grassroots church planters/leaders serving in storycentric communities.

Eight leadership modules of The Garden Project, each 21 hours in length, are presented: (1) Leadership for a Healthy Church, (2) Strategic Leadership, (3) Mentoring, (4) Leading Change, (5) Peacemaking, (6) Leading Teams, (7) Spiritual Leadership, and (8) Biblical Stewardship and Sustainability.
Members of the FTL Resource Team present each module to key indigenous leaders (Batch 1). The FTL Resource Team then mentor Batch 1 leaders as they apply the Christ-centered leadership competencies and coach these leaders as they transfer/replicate each module in their respective regional contexts (Batch 2). The Batch 2 cohorts, under the mentorship of Batch 1 hub leaders, provide sustainability as they transfer/replicate The Garden Project throughout the target audience of grassroots church planters/leaders.

The FTL team is comprised of six full-time employees based in the West, along with area representatives in South Asia, East Africa, and Francophone Africa. Each member of the team helps to deliver the eight modules around the world, provides ongoing mentoring, and helps to further the mission of the organization.

FTL is developing a robust process for evaluating outcomes of The Garden Project. Our current
evaluation process observes three primary areas:

1. Module Presentation- each module presentation conducted by the FTL Resource Team for
Batch 1 participants is evaluated regarding content and facilitator effectiveness (as perceived by
the participants).

2. Module Transference - Batch 1 leaders are evaluated on their capacity to teach/transfer the modules to
storycentric learners in their respective regional contexts (Batch 2). Each module has an evaluation checklist of appropriate Bible stories and discussion questions.

3. Module Application - the intended goal of The Garden Project is to provide effective, Christ-centered leaders who strengthen and expand storycentric churches that bless their communities. The FTL Resource Team gathers stories that increasingly reflect a collective narrative regarding the impact of The Garden Project on program participants and those they lead.

After years of revisions, current participant evaluations are consistently positive (“excellent" or “very good")
regarding content quality and facilitator effectiveness. Participants continue to make occasional
recommendations for improvement in two primary areas: (1) adjust contemporary stories with more
culture-specific details, and (2) simplify content for easier transference.

Additionally, the effectiveness of module presentations is dependent upon translations in the participants'
native language.

As each module is continually revised according to participant feedback, module transference from Batch 1 to Batch 1 has become increasingly effective. Moreover, Batch 1 participants often surpass expectations as they transfer the modules since they are natural storycentric communicators.

It is also noteworthy that a number of Batch 1 participants are now developing strategies to transfer
The Garden Project to successive generations of leaders in their respective networks without FTL assistance.

FTL has recently received an increasing number of reports of The Garden Project's impact on leaders and their respective church cultures.

External Reviews



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Not Applicable


Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Not Applicable


Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

Not Applicable


Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?

Not Applicable