Thursday, August 18, 2005

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2005...

Last Thursday-Saturday, I attended the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (satellite sight: Eagle Brook Church, White Bear, MN). While I don't always agree with the theology of the speakers, I nonetheless gain a lot of good ideas and inspiration from this conference. This was my third consecutive year, and I've already made plans for next year.

Session 1: Bill Hybels - The Leader's State of Mind
Hybels is of course, the Senior and Founding pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, IL.
-Hybels gave one of the best presentations I have ever witnessed. The problem with setting the bar this high in the first session, is that it's difficult to have anything else that follows come close. Hybels spoke about a holy discontent in each of us. The thing that drive us, that lead us to our vision for changing things. Our holy discontent comes from something that we can't stand, that we are so bothered by that we HAVE to do something about it.

Session 2: Rick Warren - Leadership is Stewardship
Warren is Senior and Founding pastor of Saddleback Church, Lake Forrest, CA.
-Warren mostly rehashed things he has previously said elsewhere. He focused on acting on what you believe.

Session 3: Moso Sono - Seeing the Unseen
Sono is the Senior and Founding pastor of Grace Bible Church, Soweto, South Africa (suburb of Johannesburg).
-Sono spoke largely about the conditions in South Africa leading up to today, and the environment his church was born in. In his church there are 10-20 who die daily from the AIDS pandemic. While I found his talk interesting, it didn't do much on inspiring/training me to be a better leader. I do appreciate the work he is doing though.

Session 4: Putting Yourself at Risk: The practice of leadership - Bill Hybels interviews Eleanor Josaitis and Curtis Sliwa
Josaitis is the CEO of Focus: HOPE in urban Detroit
-Josaitis was fun to listen to. She was very inspiring, and is proof that a single person can make a difference. I was not familiar with Focus: HOPE, and I was impressed with the great work they are doing in urban Detroit. They are doing work that resonates with me.

Sliwa is the founder and president of The Guardian Angels.
-Sliwa wasn't a very good interview. He kept making fun of Hybels which got old, and the mix between his obnoxious Bronx attitude and his educated vocabulary made for some strange word choices. I would not be any different for having missed this session.

Session 5: The Story of Two Leaders: When your calling changes - Bill Hybels interviews Ken Blanchard and John Maxwell
Blanchard is an author, speaker, and consultant on leadership and management.
-Blanchard mostly summarized things he has written and been working on for the past 10 years. Not a lot new, but much of it is still good leadership material.

Maxwell is a speaker, author, and pastor.
-Maxwell also covered a lot of stuff he has written and spoke at other places on. I think an important thing Maxwell is very intentional about is adding value to people. Every time you are with someone, do something to them or for them to help improve who they are.

Session 6: Making a Great Idea Fly: An interview with Southwest Airlines president Colleen Barrett
-The issue of the customer service approach espoused by Southwest Airlines was well covered by Barrett. She was interesting, though clearly she doesn't speak before large groups like the others do. I liked her idea of hiring people for their attitude, and then training them for their skills. While obviously at the extreme bottom end this doesn't work, it generally produces people who fit well into their customer service orientated work environment.

Session 7a: Jack Groppel - The Mental Toughness of a Leader
Groppel is an expert on human performance, and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University's K.L. Kellogg School of Management
-Groppel gave what must have been a canned speach, one he's given a variation of many times. It was interesting nonetheless. I think he is right that we will respond the way in which we practice responding, that our habits and behaviors need to be developed through discipline. He's doing some stuff over at if you are interested.

Session 7b: Henry Cloud - Action Steps for Monday
Cloud is a clinical pschologist, speaker, and author.
-Cloud added onto the idea of the need for discipline in our lives. While I didn't come away from this session with much, it wasn't bad either. The 3 strongest things that motivate us are what we want and desire, what we love, and what we have to loose.

Session 8: Kenneth Ulmer - A Leader's Unshakable Resolve
Ulmer is Senior pastor of Faithful Central Bible Church, Inglewood, CA. This is the church that bought the Forum (where the Lakers used to play) and converted it into a church
-Ulmer spoke about how living out our calling brings honor and glory to God. While his sermon didn't teach me much, it was inspiring. Perhaps that was just a result of his preaching style however.

Session 9: Bill Hybels - These Things We Must Do
-Hybels closed with a talk on the premise of if you boiled it all down to 4 things that were essential difference makers in the church, what are they? For Hybels they were 1) Keep the vision clear 2) Get the people engaged 3) Make your gatherings memorable 4) Pace yourself for the long haul. This was an excellent session, though not quite as strong as his first session. There was a lot of good to take away and think about from this. I'm sure I'll return to my notes on this again and again.

1 comment:

Paul Schafer said...

Email me at, I need to talk to you about something.