Along with over 78,000 others, I participated in The Global Leadership Summit of the Willow Creek Association on August 8-9. I was at one of the 269 Host Sites around the U.S. and Canada. A version of the Summit is now made available now in 100 countries during the months following the event through a combination of video and live presentations.
I always feel that I have to provide a disclaimer to get my friends who are uncomfortable with megachurches to read a blog involving Willow Creek, so let me say that I attend the Summit for three reasons:
First, Willow Creek Community Church, the “mother church” of the Willow Creek Association, does “big church” well, and they are transparent when they falter. The same spirit infuses the Summit.
Second, the worship is always different from what I usually experience and that is not bad. I need to be “stretched” a bit.
Third, the Summit organizers enlist some of the most creative and challenging leaders—religious, business, not-for-profit, political, and academic—for the program. I always come away with some fresh ideas and two or three new books to read.
This year I was especially taken by two people that I had not heard before. Actually, I had heard one of Brene Brown’s TED talks, but the application of her research on vulnerability to a religious context got my attention this time. I look forward to reading her book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.
A thought leader that I had never heard before was Joseph Greeny, one of the authors of Influencer: The New Science of LeadingChange. Greeny and his team have done extensive research on the influences that motivate persons to change. His interesting presentation immediately got me to thinking how this applies in the church and not-for-profit organizations.
Other speakers were familiar to regular Summit participants. Patrick Lencioni is an entertaining speaker, but his material this year was not new. On the other hand, I enjoyed hearing General Colin Powell who made a brief presentation and did an interview with Bill Hybels. In Powell’s case, I also heard nothing new, but he is one of my leadership heroes, so I always like to see him on stage. His most recent book is It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership. I have read it and strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in being an effective leader in any type of organization.
Bill Hybels gave the opening presentation and Andy Stanley the closing challenge. Hybels always comes across as a leader who is willing to share the struggles he has experienced over the past year and what he has learned from them. He epitomizes a “lifelong learner” to me. I have gained greater appreciation for Stanley as a leader and speaker over the last few years. His closing talk here was appropriate to the situation, but he has done much better in other contexts. I recently read his new book, Deep and Wide, and highly recommend it to all church leaders, regardless of the size of your congregation.
As always, worship times were creative, upbeat, and inspirational.
So I came away encouraged, inspired, informed, and with several new books on my Kindle. What more could I ask?