Friday, May 22, 2009

Bill Hybels at Eagle Brook

Yesterday I attended the “Relevance” conference for church leaders at Eagle Brook in Lino Lakes. Eagle Brook is the largest church in Minnesota and has offered a day-long church leadership conference for a few years.

I applaud Eagle Brook’s interest in helping out church leaders. They are very open to sharing what they do with other churches. During the first month of working at Chain of Lakes I sent an E-mail to their staff asking if I could learn how they came up with their purpose statement. Dale Peterson, Executive Director of the Eagle Brook Association shared ninety minutes of his time with two of us from Chain of Lakes about some of the ideas that have formed Eagle Brook’s ministry.

The highlight of the yesterday’s conference was Bill Hybels’ appearance. He is the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago, one of the most influential churches in the world. I have read many of his books, but have never had the opportunity to hear him speak in person.

Though I disagree with Hybels on some theological issues I have immense respect for him and his contributions to the church. On seeing him yesterday at Eagle Brook I remember the feeling I used to have for Cesar Chavez when I worked for the farm worker movement in the late 80’s—immense admiration and respect.

I’m most interested in what Hybels has to say about leadership and vision. Here are a few leadership and vision statements that he made yesterday:

“Without a white hot vision churches run out of steam.”

“Vision is a team sport. People think that the leader is supposed to go away and come back with a vision. This rarely works if you have highly intelligent and highly mature people. The key part is people’s buy-in.”

“The idea is to have a maximum number of people who have ownership of vision. For people to sacrifice or inconvenience themselves they have to be deeply, deeply bought into the vision.”

“I live with a healthy dose of inadequacy. I feel inadequate from a sermon prep status. I’m more concerned about people in the church who don’t feel inadequate.”

“The greatest leaders I know call something out of people. If you think you’re going to lead a high velocity organization you can’t be nice.”

“To move people deeper in their faith journey increase their engagement with the Bible. This has been proven to be successful.”

3 essentials for every church to thrive
1. The church is blindingly clear about its vision—everyone understands who the church is becoming
2. Engage the laity—we’ll never change the world if the laity are spectators. There is never enough paid staff
3. Make worship gatherings memorable.

“The most difficult person any of us will ever have to lead is ourselves—self-leadership.”

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