willow creek leadership summit, day 2

Day 2 of the Willow Creek Leadership Summit was awesome, just like day 1. After this, my first Summit, I would encourage anyone with a calling to lead, of whatever perspective on the church, to attend the Leadership Summit. Simply the exposure to the variety of innovative leaders, the stories about where they are, and the stories about how they got there and what they’ve learned is well worth the investment of a couple of days and the registration fee. The speakers and interviewees were pastors, non-profit leaders, and business leaders. The variety of perspectives was helpful and provided for a rich conversation in my mind.

Ok, so yesterday’s folks were:

  • Craig Groeschel, founder and pastor of LifeChurch.tv – spoke on “how leaders can get ‘it’ and keep ‘it.'” His innovative spirit and gift at seeking the right question as a leader were quite evident. Also, he was kind of sneaky funny–you don’t think it so much at first because he seems a little geeky or goofy, but as the talk went on, he became more and more impressive on leadership, and more and more truly funny.
  • Chuck Colson, founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries – spoke on defending the essentials of the faith. He’s the “elder statesman” of the conference. His presentation wasn’t as strong or impressive as the others, I think. But, his life story and witness in what he’s done with Prison Fellowship are to be much appreciated.
  • Catherine Rohr, founder and CEO of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program – interview on her commitment to the vision and conviction of her ministry with soon-to-be released prisoners. She gave up a 6-figure Wall Street job and (with her husband) went broke moving to Texas and starting a ministry that trains gifted imprisoned entrepreneurs in how to use their gifts and skills in legitimate work once released. Builds in character development as well. Phenomenal work.
  • Brad Anderson, CEO of Best Buy – interview on his Christian witness in the workplace and how to appropriately navigate that, his leadership approach with Best Buy, and how he handles the challenges of being a faithful steward of the wealth that has come his way as a successful businessman. In addition to the content of the interview, I really enjoyed his candor, thoughtfulness, and sense of humor.
  • Bill Hybels, Sr. Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago – gave the conference-ending talk on the spirituality and witness of Mother Teresa and the challenge her life and witness issues to Christian leaders today.

The ones that really rung my bell most from day 2 were Craig Groeschel and Catherine Rohr. Hybels did a great job in issueing the challenge to us as leaders to close things out, so I’m really referring to the others as presenters. Alright, quotes…

Craig Groeschel

  • On embracing failure: “Contrary to the ‘failure is not an option’ mentality, failure is a necessity! Failure may be the first step to seeing God in a situation.”
  • On assessing why you’re doing something: “To reach people no one is reaching, you have to do what no one is doing, but to do what no one is doing you can’t do what everyone else is doing.” This makes sense on the face of it once we read it–indeed, we think we could have probably come up with it. But the difference is in the faithfulness and rigor in executing it!
  • On a self-realization and the potential for ministry to kill one’s spirit: “I realized I had become a full-time pastor and a part-time follower of Christ.”

Chuck Colson

  • “Don’t go to church, belong to the church.”

Catherine Rohr

  • On the basic prayer of her life: “Bring it on, God!”

Brad Anderson

  • On his work with people in his organization, Brad said that often we try to separate the inseparable–person’s personal lives and their ability to focus and perform well in their work. He said he tries to attend to what people are going through in their personal lives early: “It will show up in the numbers, but you can see it in their eyes before you see it in the numbers.”
  • On sharing his faith in Christ in the workplace, he said that he is careful about it. Not only for legal reasons, but also in awareness of the potential power differential depending on the person he’s talking with that has a problem. He shares his faith in Christ “when an invitation happens” in which the other person asks to hear about his faith.

Bill Hybels

  • Description of Mother Teresa’s posture before God: “Carte Blanche yieldedness”
  • Relation of some of Mother Teresa’s vows: “To refuse Him nothing,” “To obey without delay” (Hybels’ paraphrase), Attend to “the little practices” or little fidelities to Scripture
  • Mother Teresa’s response to her long stretches of not feeling God’s presence: “Even though I do not feel his love, yet I will seek to love him as he has never been loved.”
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3 thoughts on “willow creek leadership summit, day 2

  1. hey Richard — unfortunately no. I’m not sure why not…and not sure if/how many we invited. I’m hoping to get the DVD of some presentations and use them to help my teams get exposed to some of the stories and messages. And I’ll want to plan on taking some next year.

  2. Thanks for this summary. I’m reading Craig Groeschel’s book “It: How Churches and Leaders Can Get It and Keep It.” The illusive “it” is what attracts people and makes ministries effective. Craig says “it” can’t be taught, but “it” can be caught. God gives “it.” “It” has a lot to do with the Holy Spirit. Churches that have “it” are incredibly focused, willing to fail, led by people who have “it,” and those people see potential when others see problems. Craig says “the spark of passion ignites the fuel for innovation.” And he says “it” follows big vision. God makes “it” happen. “It” is from him, by him, and for his glory. You may want to watch brief videos about the book’s message at http://www.zondervan.com/it and http://floatingaxhead.com/2008/08/11/the-power-of-it/

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