#142: Interview with Sarah Keller, Executive Director of Next Level Church on The Emotional Health of a Leader

By April 6, 2017Blog, Leadership, Podcast

In this episode of the L3 Leadership podcast, you’ll hear Doug Smith interview Sarah Keller, Executive Director of Next Level Church in Ft. Myers, FL. You’ll hear Sarah talk about her leadership journey, how they develop a culture of care and candor at Next Level Church, Sarah’s advice to women in leadership, overcoming insecurty, and so much more!

L3 Leadership Podcast Episode #142: Interview with Sarah Keller, Executive Director of Next Level Church

Sarah’s Story:

Matt and Sarah Keller had it in their hearts, as high school sweethearts, that they wanted to be local church pastors. They also knew that “planting” a church somewhere was a great way to do that. God has used them to lead the church from 30 people, at its grand opening in 2002, to now over 3,400 people in three locations.

A piece of the Next Level Church vision has always been to be a multi-site church, with locations stretching across Southwest Florida, so that no one will have to drive more than thirty minutes to attend and be involved. The vision to become a multi-site church came to pass as the Gateway Location opened in March of 2014 with over 3,200 in attendance!

Connect with Sarah:


  • What do you wish people knew about what it took to get to where you’re at in this stage of your journey?
  • You talk a lot about the S-Curve and making the jump. What were some of the most significant jumps you’ve had to take in your leadership and/or lids you’ve had to break through to get to where you are?
  • I’ve heard that you exemplify the statement, “We care more about who you are than what you do.”
    • How did you create that culture?
    • How do you sustain that culture?
    • Can you talk about the culture you and Matt have tried to create at Next Level Church?
    • How do you do that on a daily basis?
  • You lead with a focus on character over competency… why is character development so important as a leader and how do you help leaders grow and develop their character?
    • How do you help people look for cracks in their character?
    • How do you personally deal with cracks in your character?
    • How do you handle and process pain as a leader?  
    • How have you learned to deal with the parts of leadership that just plain stink?
  • In your talk at the 2016 NLLC, you gave a talk entitled, “Serving His Dream”. In the talk you shared about how a few years back, you went through one of the most formative years of your leadership journey, however, it was a very difficult season to walk through. Can you tell us about that season, what led to that season, and what you learned about leadership from that season?
  • If you could go back and give your 20 year old self advice, what would you tell her? What are you currently working on that you’re excited about and how can our audience serve you?
  • If you got to speak at a conference for women in leadership, what would you tell them?
  • What books and podcast do you find yourself referring to others most often?
  • What do you want your legacy to be?
  • Any lasting advice for leaders?


  • Mastermind Groups – We have weekly webinars about Mastermind groups every Tuesday night from 9 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. .  E-mail Doug at dougsmith@l3leadership.org if you are interested.


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