Willow Creek Leadership Summit

I had never been to a WCA leadership summit, and for this reason qualified for a scholarship from the Baptist General Convention of Missouri. I appreciate this support and incentive a great deal. Going to meetings isn’t a high priority for me, but these two days proved to be one of the best things I’ve done from a ministry standpoint in a long time. Here is the link to the website for more information. Special thanks to Ridgecrest Baptist Church for hosting this event in such a hospitable way.

There are so many high points to reflect upon, including David Gergen’s interview and Bono’s comments about the church. The president of Compassion International just about brought the conference to a standstill with his riveting presentation about personal pain and suffering, and how this has been the catalyst for his work in liberating children from poverty. It was extremely moving, and emotionally draining. Good thing there was a break after that session to give time to pull myself together a little bit.

I enjoyed two presentations in particular. The first one related to Bill Hybels himself in the opening session “Leading in New Reality.” His view is that those who are hoping that things will “return to normal” i.e. pre-recession economic standing may be disapppointed. There are many who are waiting for life to get back to how it was almost a year ago, but the truth is that we may be waiting a long time for something never to happen. If so, then the church will need to adapt and learn how to respond to this new reality. There are so many people who are hurting as a result of these difficult economic times, plus the fact marriages are in trouble and churches are scrambling to figure out how to absorb all the changes in technology just in the past several years. Things might not EVER get back “to normal.” This might be the way it is.

The other meaningful session was led by David Gibbon who really debunked a lot of traditional leadership theory about the “up and to the right” approach to organizational growth. I agree with David that this sort of steady, upward growth is seldom the reality. One thing in particular he said related to his view of mission statements and vision, in that we already have that in the gospels. Jesus told us what the greatest commandments are: love God and love others. This should be the matrix for our own approach, and we don’t necessarily need to spend a whole weekend trying to come up with a sentence to call our “mission statement.” This activity is no guarantee to effectiveness, because ministry is really about relationships, especially through those “on the fringe.” Our time would be much better invested in the lives of those who can impact the world by fulfilling the words of Jesus.

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