Friday, August 11, 2006

My Thoughts at the Leadership Summit 06

This post is actually a day late and I have more to write about Bono's interview from today. But, here are my thoughts on the first four sessions.

I am at the Willow Creek Association Leadership Summit today with my church—24 of us in all. We were at the Dallas-Rockwall location (Lakepoint Church) Bill Hybels started out the day and did a great job of doing what I think he does best—inspiring leaders. He talked about the lifecycle of leaders and challenged leaders to be intentional about self-leadership development. He also listed skills necessary for ongoing leadership, especially within ministry. He stressed that the passion and heartbeat of a young leader—the kind that leads one to want to change the world—must be shaped and developed.

Hybels closed with a story about the impact of leadership by sharing the story of being in a village in Zambia, one which Willow Creek has adopted all of the 1100 AIDS orphans. The church provides sacks of mealy meal and other staples, providing for their food needs each day. He shared about meeting a woman there who had adopted two of the orphans, carrying food to them by dragging it down the road to her house. Hybels offered to carry the bag on his shoulder and, as he was doing so, he said it struck him how vital the food was for the children, making a difference between life and death for these children. He reminded us all of the stakes of leadership and what does not happen when leaders don’t lead (sorry for those double negatives). It was great to hear of Hybel's new focus on social issues, realizing the leverage he and WCreek have to make a huge difference with poverty, AIDS, and racial reconciliation.

James Meeks, Sr. Pastor of Salem Baptist Church , talked about how every church can grow. I enjoyed his sense of humor and many of his points, but I felt like it was too much about methodology and scientific approach to church growth. To Meeks, a church that is not growing radically in number each year is not fulfilling God’s hopes for it. I agree that churches need to grow, but measuring growth by membership addition and baptisms has shown not to be a true marker for being Christ’s church. Meeks seemed to be more interested in growing the church on its campus rather than in the community.

Andy Stanley’s topic today was “Focused Leadership.” He said the best leadership decision he ever made was to decide to no longer cheat his wife and family on time and focus, but to instead cheat the church. He said he always prayed for God to make up for his time away from home believing he was doing God’s will by building the church. But, he said he had things opposite and that God never commanded anyone to love the church, but to love their wives. He implemented this in his life, going home when his wife and children needed him most (between 4:30-6:00) Stanley believes this value enabled the church to say no to too many things and to build a sustainable approach to ministry. It alleviated the fear of not being able to be all things to all people.

Peg Neuhauser talked about tribal warfare and how to manage conflict in organizations. Good stuff.

I am looking forward to hearing from Bono and other speakers tomorrow.


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