Our Story

Where It All Began

Jim and Sterling co-founded the NextGen Leaders Conference back in 2003. The idea for such an event emerged out of a need in Jim’s life as he was leading a great historic mission agency through significant culture change. That exposure to organizational change proved to be a key marker in his development as a leader. It then dawned on Jim that he was not alone in needing markers and wise friends older on the journey to provide guideposts. If he needed such wise ones perhaps many other younger leaders growing in capacity may need older brothers and sister, as well. Thus, the NextGen Leaders Conference was birthed. 

Jim and Sterling have been married for over 40 years. They have 4 grown children, 3 sons-in-law and 5 grandkids! Jim hails from Pennsylvania and Sterling from South Carolina. They met in college in Virginia where both sensed God’s call to serve the Gospel and the nations.

Serving together, they each come with 13 years of church planting experience in Asia, 13 years of leadership in two mission organizations and 8 years ministering in formal theological education and equipping.

They love serving younger leaders with a burden to multiply leaders, engage Kingdom movements into the frontiers of mission and mobilize God’s people to take the Gospel to the unreached. 

Through all of their ministry experiences, a common thread for the O’Neills has been a love for assisting younger leaders in their preparation for God’s Kingdom assignment. The NextGen Leaders Conference became a vehicle to allow this burden to find ongoing expression.

Looking out over much of training and formation of North American ministers, they discerned a profound need to integrate leadership with mission, community, hospitality, spiritual formation and weakness as essential attributes creating the needed comprehensive preparation for global Gospel service.

Jim and Sterling are also members of Frontier Ventures, where Jim is the Director of Mobilization and Sterling co-labors alongside with Jim. Frontier Ventures allows Jim and Sterling to explore key ministry areas of need including their NextGen work. 

Sterling is also a certified Life Coach and has a blog she writes for

They both like to read, play and watch tennis, hang out with people and can often be found in local coffee shops together.