The Leadership Summit – Day Two
The Summit went to a new level today. John Burke pastor of a church in Austin, TX spoke on the importance of grace. His church is embracing the broken and lost in a way that really boggles the mind. His message challenged the church to get involved in people’s lives and get our hands dirty while at the same time not compromising on truth. He was very authentic and touched my heart.
Efram Smith pastors a growing church in urban Minneapolis. His church is known for reaching out to the Hip Hop culture and Break Dancers, and incorporating these styles into the worship service while at the same time leaving the things from those particular sub-cultures that are not God glorifying. He really shook the house with a message focused on the importance of the church being both “multi-cultural” and “multi-ethnic” in the current day. His message was a bit slow to start out, it seemed like he couldn’t quite find his voice. Then in the middle he started to get rolling and by the end of the message everyone was on their feet cheering as he talked about the “high pressure” and the “low pressure” and how it creates a storm. His talk challenged some of my own thinking with regard to the obvious segregation that exists in the church today.
For me Craig Groeschel gave the most powerful talk of the conference. He is the pastor of LifeChurch.TV in Oklahoma, one of the first churches to take multi-site to a whole new level. He spoke with a great deal of conviction and depth. His big thing was the idea of having “It” and he doesn’t really know what “It” is although he knows it has something to do with the Spirit of God working within the Body. “It” is just that something that separates effective leaders and churches from ineffective leaders and churches. As he described “It” you couldn’t help but nod in agreement with him because we’ve all experienced places that didn’t have “It” and then we’ve experienced churches that do have “It”. I sat there listening to him speak and even admit to a time in his ministry recently when he didn’t have “It” and I couldn’t help but to long for “It” too. There are times when I see glimpses of “It” in myself, in my church, and in other leaders but more often than not it seems that “It” never seems to stick. I’m encouraged though because Craig left me hopeful that every church and leader can have “It” by the grace of God. The best!
Chuck Colson now well into his seventies can still give a good word. This was the second time this year I heard him speak and he continues to amaze me with his bold, and courageous stand for scripture and the validity of Christianity. What can I say this man gets it and we could all learn something from his depth of knowledge but also his life’s testimony.
A very close second to Craig Groeschel’s #1 talk of the conference is Catherine Rohr’s interview with Bill Hybels. She was absolutely captivating with her passion, authenticity, and clear dedication to the bold cause she took up to help hardened criminals return to society with a better life and entrepreneurial skills to improve their lives. It seemed a bit strange that this well educated, attractive, woman would leave her lucrative job and go into the Texas prison system to impact the lives of criminals. But that is exactly what she did and continues to do. The icing on the cake was when they brought out the convicts who had been through her business classes and one by one they each gave their name, what they had been in prison for and what they are doing now that their lives have been changed. I know I had tears in my eyes. Catherine’s organization is called Prison Entrepreneurship Program and right now it is only operating in the Texas prison system. Truly inspiring and courageous!
Brad Anderson is the CEO of the Best Buy chain of consumer electronics stores. What I took from his interview with Bill Hybels was a real sense of authenticity. There was no pretense with this very wealthy CEO. It seemed like Bill was just fishing for some sort of altruistic vignette that he could use but this guy kept coming back to his faults and his shortcomings. Clearly he has a heart for using his money to help good causes and to build the kingdom of God. Hybels talked to him a bit about what it meant to have as much money as he has and how he felt about being asked to give money away. He joked about how he had been asked to donate more than 25 million dollars in one day. I’m trying to figure out how to get his phone number and address so I can make an ASK!
The Summit was truly inspiring, challenging, and encouraging for Christina and I. It was particularly nice to see it live and experience Willow Creek up close and personal since it had been about 10 years since I’d been on the campus. The new worship center is absolutely brilliant! The stage, intelligent lighting, video screens are all top notch. I have Leadership Summit 2009 already on my calendar.