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Church Leadership

3 Things I’m Wondering About What Church Leaders Believe

Yesterday, Kristen and I went to the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. It’s an event I’ve always loved… I’ve gone 3-4 times in the past decade and the years that I couldn’t make it I always wanted to. Looking back, it’s an event where I always learn a lot.

I’m probably a lot like you. I’m tired of talking about why humpty dumpty sat on a wall, why he had a great fall, or why all the kings horses and all the kings men couldn’t put humpty dumpty back together again. Deconstruction is so… 2005. My time is spent coming up with ways to reconstruct the church in new ways, in ways that people currently disconnected from Christ want to connect with Him. It comes from a deep respect for the Scriptures, leaning into the truths of the Gospel, and a relentless hope that our best days must be ahead.

All that to say– I walked away with 3 things I’m wondering about based on what I heard yesterday. These were the working, meta-narrative, definitions of how the speakers/hosts seemed to view the world around them. And it left me wondering… is this what they really believe?

  1. The church is the hope of the world – I walked away wondering… Is that really a true statement? I know I just have an undergrad Bible college degree. And I picked Spanish in college because Greek and Hebrew didn’t seem all that practical for youth ministry. But I think Jesus is the hope of the world. I think the church is the bride of Christ. The church is Hope’s wife, they are wed, they are one… but the church is not the Hope of the world. Jesus is. (I can accept the phrase as a metaphor but the phrase was not said as a metaphor– it was said as an axiom/truism/fact.)
  2. Neighbors are people you invite to church – I walked away wondering about the application of one of the stories… Bill Hybels told a story about a man who came to their property looking for his cat. The man asked Bill, “What is this place?” (Assuming it was a college) Bill used that story to illustrate that they, for the first time in 30 years, needed to do some marketing to retell the Willow story to people in their community. His story left me screaming inside! Dude, you blew it. Jesus didn’t say, “Love your neighbor and invite them to church.” He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The guy didn’t come and ask Bill for a flyer or an invitation to church. He wanted help looking for his cat. It was an invitation for Bill to go to the man’s house! It was an invitation to get to know his neighbor— not fill his mailbox inviting neighbors to hear him preach. Oh, I really wanted that to be a turning point for Bill to see that a church dispersed in its community, as Hope’s representative and wife, is far more potent than a church coming to his “college.” [If you know me, you know my prayer is that the church becomes Good News in the Neighborhood.]
  3. Leadership is the most important spiritual gift – Oh, there was so much insider language and playing to a senior pastor audience about “leadership!” Bill Hybels repeatedly pumped up leadership as the only important spiritual gift. He “thanked God” that he didn’t have the other gifts. (There was a lot of woman bashing from the stage, too. I hope someone mentions that to him. That’s beneath leaders of his caliber.) It made me wonder about the definition of Christian leadership. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 12, no one is more important in the body of Christ than anyone else. And Jesus corrected his disciples again and again… to be great, you must be a servant. (Mark 10:42-45) Those weren’t popular concepts at Willow’s Summit. In fact, in an interview with an organization that has two equal leaders the question came up again and again… “Is it possible to have 2 leaders?

So that’s what I left wondering with after day 1. Just wondering. Not criticizing or tearing down. Just wondering. 

If you went to WCAGLS— what were your highlights? What did you leave wondering about? 

QUICK UPDATE: Day 2 of WCAGLS was very good, I didn’t stick around for Bill’s closing talk, but really enjoyed all of the speakers today. Pranitha Timothy was absolutely stunning today. Very thankful for that talk.

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Video Clip

Jesus died for his peeps

Pretty weird mix of metaphors if you ask me.

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hmm... thoughts

Children’s Book Idea: The Martyrs of Jesus

I’m an idea guy. And one thing I’ve learned over the years is that every one of my ideas has value. That doesn’t mean every idea is a good idea. It just means that every idea is worth writing down and coming back to later.

Several months ago I had this thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have an illustrated children’s book for 3-5 year olds that taught the real-life stories of Christian heroes?” Before I got too far with it I realized– This is one of the worst ideas EVER.!

Here’s what some of the pages would have been: 

  • Polycarp – He was an old man who was burned at the stake because he refused to burn incense to honor the Roman Emperor. When he didn’t catch on fire, they stabbed him with a spear.
  • Cyprian – When he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, he was first banished. But then he was brought back to Carthage and beheaded. On his way to be killed he took off all of his clothes and put on his own blindfold.
  • Agnes – Agnes was martyred because she refused to marry someone who wasn’t a Christian. But since the law in Rome was that a virgin couldn’t be executed, Roman soldiers dragged her to a brothel first. Then when they tried to burn her at the stake the wood wouldn’t catch fire, so a soldier stabbed her in the throat.
  • Jovan Vladimir – He was beheaded in front of his church because he refused to lead his country into war.
  • William Tyndale – After being jailed for over a year in a castle, Tyndale was choked, impaled, and burned at the stake. His crime? He translated the Bible into English.
  • Hugh Latimer – Why he was killed isn’t all that clear. But people in charge of the church just didn’t like him because he was teaching truth about salvation and had a habit of preaching at places that weren’t the church. So they had him burned at the stake.
  • Thomas Baker – A missionary to Figi who was killed and eaten by cannibals.

I dunno, this might be my best idea ever…