Highlights from the WCA Youth Conference in Germany

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Last weekend over 4,000 students from across Germany gathered in Erfurt, Germany, for the Willow Creek Association’s Youth Conference, #JPK15. Guest speakers Lukas Augustin, Jefferson Bethke, Leo Bigger, Keith Cote, Derwin Gray, Beki Grissom, Brandon Grissom, Megan Fate, Evi Rodemann, and Eric Timm were a part of the fantastic weekend.

Derwin Gray said, “The young people at the Willow Creek Leadership Conference gave me great hope for a great evangelical Christian future in Germany. Let’s pray for them.” (Read more about Derwin’s experience here.)

This fun video features some of the American speakers as they were asked, “How would you describe Germans without words?”

Check out highlights from the event here:

Please keep the youth of Germany in your prayers. We believe God sparked something at #JPK15 and pray He will continue to move in the hearts and lives of these young people.

The Trinity of Top-Notch Leadership


Bill Hybels

Over the past few weekends Bill Hybels has been doing an intense study of the book of Nehemiah in a series entitled Unwavering at Willow Creek Community Church.
Throughout this series, he’s shared insights about leadership from the life of Nehemiah and how they can impact all of us and how we lead.

This weekend Bill shared what he called “The Trinity of Top-Notch Leadership.” He said that top-notch leaders have three common characteristics:

  • Self Awareness
  • Learning Agility
  • Emotional Intelligence 

Click here to watch the whole message on WillowCreek.tv.

21 Christians were murdered. This is the legacy they leave behind.

21Christian_coverThese Christian men died for their faith, but this is what they lived for.

In February 2015, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were brutally murdered by Islamic State terrorists while working in Libya. When a video surfaced late one Sunday showing Islamic State fighters beheading 21 men in Libya, it seemed no family in the Egyptian town of Al Aour—three hours south of Cairo—was spared. But the families here celebrate the lives of their martyred loved ones with sadness, but with hope and a bit of pride.

“To the last moment, the name of Jesus was on their lips,” says Hana Aziz, who witnessed the kidnapping and was almost taken by ISIS militants himself. “As they were being martyred, they were calling God’s name, saying, ‘God, have mercy on us.’ The entire village is proud.”

The tight-knit village of Al Aour remembers each victim fondly, including the following testimonies given by family members:

Yousef Shoukry, 24, had “the heart of a child,” according to his family, and had gone to Libya to find work. His family, concerned for his safety, asked him not to go, but he felt assured that “I have one God, he’s the same here and there.” Yousef’s brother watched the video of his beheading even when other family members could not. But her other son says he made himself watch it. “I saw that he had strength in his last moments,” the 27-year-old man said, insisting that there was a heavenly light shining on his brother’s face, even after he was decapitated. “And that consoled me.”

YousefShoukryShenouda Shoukry holds up a photo of his brother, Yousef Shoukry (right).

YousefShoukry2A mother and son mourn Shoukry.

Towadros Yousef, 42, accustomed to laboring elsewhere to provide for his family, was called a “fighter” by his loved ones. A father of three, Towardros was said to be a quiet introverted man, happiest when he was with his family. His younger brother Bebawi Yousef, 34, was ready to do anything to help save his brother, even up to the last moment. He traveled from Al-Aour to Cairo to talk on an Egyptian television show to raise awareness about the case of the kidnapped Copts. Five minutes before going on air, he received the fateful call from his local priest.

TowadrosYousefBebawi Yousef holds up the ID of his brother, Towadros Yousef.

TowadrosYousef2Bebawi during a funeral service for his brother and the other men killed by ISIS.

Maged Suleiman Shahata, 40, a father of three, was determined to change the history of poverty that had plagued his family for generations. Maged’s brother Emad spoke with him just hours before he was kidnapped; Maged was worried about another group of Christians who had been kidnapped. Emad sadly remembers that Maged’s last words to him were that his phone credit was out. “I didn’t know what that would mean,” he said, upset that he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye or tell him how much he meant to him.

MagedSuleimanShahata2Emat Suleiman Shahta during a service to honor his brother, Maged Suleiman Shahata.

MagedSuleimanShahataEmat holds up a copy of his brother’s ID.

Hani Abdel Messihah, 32, had four young children and a wife, Magda Aziz, 29. Aziz says he always had a joke on his mind and a smile on his face. “There was a prayer in anything he said,” she added. She consoles herself and her children that “he is in the sky, in the heavens.”

21Christian_coverMagda Aziz, 29, holds a photo of her late husband, Hani Abdel Messihah.

HaniAbdelMessihah2Messihah with his young son.

According to The Huffington Post, here are the names of the other murdered Christians:

5. Milad Makeen Zaky

6. Abanub Ayad Atiya

7. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy (Kirollos Bashree Fawzy)

8. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel

9. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet

10. Girgis Milad Sinweet

11. Mina Fayez Aziz

12. Samuel Alham Wilson

13. Samuel Astafanus Kamel

14. Ezat Bishri Naseef

15. Loqa Nagaty Anees

16. Munir Gaber Adly

17. Esam Badir Samir

18. Malak Farag Abram

19. Sameh Salah (Sameh Salah Farug)

20. Girgis Sameer Maglee

21. Unknown

In memory of the victims, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-­Sisi announced plans to build a new church for their relatives in the village. “It will be named the Church of the Martyrs,” said one of the relatives. The 21 Christians killed will be entered into the Coptic Synaxarium, the Coptic Church’s leader Pope Tawadros II said. This procedure is similar to canonization in the Latin Church. A banner showing the faces of the victims hangs from the painted ceiling of the Coptic Church in Al Aour, Egypt.

This article was originally posted on Faithit.com. So see the original post click HERE.

Answering the Call to Develop Young Leaders

At the 2014 Summit Bill Hybels challenged senior leaders to develop emerging leaders in their organizations:

Christine from Austin, TX heard this challenge loud and clear. Thursday evening after the Summit had wrapped up for the day, Christine created a short-term task force for the company she works for, and handed over the reins to an ambitious young leader.

“As always at the GLS, I return to work with new tools to revolutionize the way we work and the language to share them with others.”

It only took two days to start seeing results from the task force, and the senior leadership at the firm took notice. Senior leadership asked, “What’s your thinking on this?” Christine explained the motivations to put the ambitious young leader in a position to succeed or fail, with full authority and real pressure. The leadership team liked the idea so much, they immediately decided to implement more task forces with other young leaders in the organization, regardless of the outcome of the flagship task-force already in progress.

The success of the task force has had such an impact on the culture at her firm, it has become a regular part of business operations.

Oh and that first task force leader? They’re being promoted to entry-level management.

All because Christine answered the call to develop new leaders.

What did the Summit inspire you to implement in your business or ministry?

Email us your story!
story@willowcreek.com

Atheists Just Go One God Further

Posted by Liz Driscoll

john_dickson_2010Our guest blogger today is Australian historian, pastor and apologist Dr. John Dickson (TGLS 2011). John’s Summit talk, Humilitas, traced the historical origin of the virtue of humility directly to Jesus and explored how Jesus’ servant-leader ideal changed societal perceptions about virtuous leadership. John recently released a new book A Doubter’s Guide to The Bible: Inside History’s Bestseller for Believers and Skeptics.

John always delivers intelligent and thoughtful insights into how Christian leaders can engage in conversations about faith in a public context.

Have you ever encountered the atheist “joke” he describes below? What do you think about his response?

In our increasingly secular environment, Christian leaders are frequently faced with a favourite atheist ‘one-liner’ which sounds powerful, is sure to get a chuckle, but upon closer inspection turns out to be, well, laughable!

At a public event I recently attended, a famous Australian journalist and atheist reveled in the opportunity to deliver his skeptical punch line. “There have been 10,000 gods through history,” he said. “You reject 9,999 of them. I just go one god further!” It was a well-rehearsed line straight out of the atheist joke book—the well-known Oxford professor Richard Dawkins also likes to tell it. It got the laugh a half-decent witticism deserves. The journalist followed up by telling the audience that he’d never found a Christian leader who was able to answer the criticism. I was surprised to hear that.

“Atheists just go one god further” is an aphorism regularly offered but rarely thought through. The idea it asks us to consider is something like this: when Christians reflect on why they reject Zeus, Ra, Isis, Vishnu, et al., they will come to see the good sense of the atheist who simply adds one more deity to the trash can. The arguments that Christians employ against other gods, so the logic goes, come back to bite the Christian god as well.

It is cute, but silly.

For one thing, believers in any particular religion do not reject the other gods in toto. They deny the manifestations and stories of the other deities, but not their substance. Christian leaders will reject the elaborations and add-on characteristics of, say, Ra or Vishnu, but they will happily acknowledge the wisdom of the ancient Egyptians and Indians in holding that a powerful Intelligence must exist and give order to the universe. There is, in other words, an irreducible shared core of conviction among most worshipers: we all hold that the rational order of the universe is best explained by the existence of an almighty Mind (or Minds) behind it all.

This is why the apostle Paul in Athens can happily quote a line from a hymn to Zeus in his argument about God: “we are his offspring” (Acts 17; it comes from Aratus Phaenomena 5). Of course, Paul did not think the stories about Zeus were true, but he could commend the Greeks for believing in divine power and intelligence which Zeus was thought to embody. Atheists are simply misguided to liken a Christian’s rejection of particular versions of divinity with the atheist’s denial of divinity altogether. When the Christian leader points this out to an eager skeptic, it can lead to an excellent follow-up question: Why, then, is Jesus a more believable manifestation of deity than any other? That is exactly where we want the conversation to go!

An analogy highlights the atheist’s error. In choosing to marry my wife, it is true that I rejected all other potential spouses (not that there were that many). Does this mean I have rejected the idea at the core of other people’s marriages? Of course not. But imagine a zealous celibate, who rejected marriage altogether and tried to use my decision to marry one person as an argument against matrimony itself: “When you consider why you rejected other women in favour of your wife, then you will see the good sense of rejecting marriage altogether.”

I hardly need to point out that the difference between committed marriage and deliberate celibacy is not one of degree. Rejecting particular partners is nothing like rejecting the idea of partnership altogether. The analogy isn’t perfect but it makes one point clear: “we atheists just go one god further” is no more compelling than “we celibates just go one partner further.” Our denial of particular manifestations of the divine offers no support whatsoever for the atheist’s rejection of divinity itself. One-liners from the 101 Atheist Jokes book should indeed be the object of laughter.

Christian leaders who are prepared patiently to walk their skeptical friends and audiences through arguments like these may, just like Paul in Athens, find some who “want to hear you again on this subject” and a few who “became followers and believed.”

Dr. John Dickson is the Founding Director of the Centre for Public Christianity and Senior Pastor of St Andrew’s Roseville in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of the recent A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible. He blogs on faith and apologetics here: http://www.johndickson.org/blog

5 Signs You’ve Taken Your Eye Off The Leadership Ball

Re-post from Scott Cochrane

I think what has impressed me most about the Global Leadership Summit (GLS) leaders we’ve met with this week in South Africa is their clarity and focus.

This gathering of leaders from some 40 GLS sites across southern Africa has reminded me again just how important focus is for a leader. And it has reminded me of a time when I lost focus, and took my off the leadership ball.

It only takes a second.

A brief moment when, just for an instant, a receiver in an (American) football game takes his eye off the ball.

That fleeting moment of lost focus can not only result in a dropped pass, sometimes it can cost the team the game.

It’s no different in the game of leadership.

One of the most important roles of the leader is to ensure that they, and their team, are keeping their eye on the ball at all times.

That means providing clarity of focus and helping each person know which priorities require attention.

In one of my early leadership roles I found myself second-in-command in an organization with about 40 employees. One day a department head came to me with a plan to relocate her team’s offices to a different part of the building.

The basic idea made sense, so I took the proposal to the senior leader.

His feedback? “Scott, your job is to keep everyone’s eye on the ball. That department is under-performing, and rather than helping them get on track you want their energy to go towards an office relocation?”

I’ve never forgotten that counsel, nor the lesson it taught me.

Leaders must keep their eye on the ball at all times.

Here are 5 indicators that you might have taken your eye off the ball:

1. There is no alignment in your “to do” list

A clear, direct line should run between your daily activities and your most important goals.

2. Your team is vague on today’s highest priorities

Every member of your team should be able to state unequivocally how their assignments are furthering the organization’s objectives.

3. You are being sidetracked with “busy work”

Busy work are tasks you indulge in which keeps your time occupied, but which does little to advance key objectives.

4. You’ve been avoiding difficult conversations

In order to keep your team on track it requires the occasional tough conversation, where you correct mission-drift.

5. You haven’t noticed measurable movement towards key goals

If neither you, nor your team, can point to recent “wins” with respect to key goals, you’ve likely taken your eye off the ball.

Watch vigilantly for these indicators.

Because when the game really counts, your focus matters more than ever.

How do you keep your eye on the leadership ball?

Scott_011-150x150Vice President- International, Willow Creek Association. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam, Amy and John. Football and hockey further down the list. Follow Scott on Twitter: @WScottCochrane

God Stirs a Firestorm in a Leaders Heart

In addition to the GLS events that occur internationally, several language group events take place in the United States. At a Chinese church in LA this year, we held a GLS event that impacted the lives and ministries of more than 300 leaders.

photo5-150x150 photo14-150x150 photo15-150x150

Here are just some of the stories we’ve heard out of the event:

 “At home I used to be the “Emperor” ruling over the house and family, but from Summit I’ve learned leadership is about humility and I need to lead by setting an example. I used to have communication problems with my wife, but I’ve tried to apply the learning from the Summit that leaders help others get better and pursue vision to have a better relationship with each other, and I recommitted to become a better father and better husband at home.” —GLS Attendee

A successful businessman, who runs a manufacturing plant in China shared his leadership journey:

 “I was pretty content with my success, and set for life. I wanted to retire, golf and travel around the world. But Bill Hybels’ Holy Discontent message hit me hard, and God stirred a firestorm in my heart for serving China. I’ve since helped in organizing plans with the local church and started to build schools in rural areas of China. After 5 years, 16 schools have been built throughout China. I took a step further to help local Chinese house church pastors in discipleship training. I will bring 120 pastors and leaders to Korea’s Jeju Island where the Chinese don’t need to have a visa to access. We are partnering with the largest Korean church in Jeju Island, hosting two weeks of training at the church’s retreat center, providing lodging and meals for everyone. I’m also mobilizing 40 key leaders from the church to go and support this event. We will do this for next three years so that eventually Chinese pastors will be able to do the training locally. It all started with God’s prompting to me from the Holy Discontent message.”

Do you have a story from your Summit experience? Tell us in the comments below!

Introverts & Extroverts: Part 1

Post by Liz Driscoll

We often hear that the The Global Leadership Summit is like a drinking from a firehose. There is just too much good content. And it is difficult for any of it to sink in.

We want to help. Each month, we will tee-up a different Summit Leadership Theme. The theme will be introduced early in the month with new content from a past Summit speaker to begin your reflections. And then mid-month, we will release a 30-minute Defining Moments video where Bill Hybels discusses the content in-depth, sharing insights into how he applied the ideas at Willow Creek Community Church.

For March 2015, our theme is Introverts and Extroverts– wrestling with interpersonal leadership and temperament from Susan Cain’s session Quiet: Challenging the Extrovert Ideal from TGLS 2014.

Susan’s TED talk and book have ignited a Quiet Revolution – elevating the contributions of introverted teammates and describing how some common management practices, like group brainstorming, may actually lead to sub-optimal results.

Here is a fun, short, animated video from Susan Cain.

Watch Video

Screen shot 2015-03-09 at 9.22.45 AM

Watch the video and reflect. What stood out to you? How are you doing in making sure the more quiet and introverted voices in your organization are being heard?

Take it deeper:

– Interact with others by writing your thoughts in the comments section below.

– Grab your journal and write about how you currently interact with introverts and extroverts on your team.

– Watch for the Defining Moments release mid-month and listen to Bill’s insights into how he leans into the strengths of both temperaments at Willow Creek.

– Pull out your Team Edition or Video Card and Susan’s session again with your team. You will probably gain new insights.

– Discuss how temperament affects your leadership in your 1-1s with your staff or your supervisor.

– Make Susan Cain’s book, Quiet, your leadership read for the month.

Enjoy the video . . . and let’s take this month to become better leaders of teams with both Introverts and Extroverts.

6 Leadership Lessons To Use This Week

unwavering_tabEveryone keys off the energy of the leader. If a leader is fired up, then everyone around them starts to get fired up too. Senior Pastor Bill Hybels continues our Unwavering series, unpacking how Nehemiah was a great leader that could truly inspired people.

 

From this message, here are 6 leadership lessons to use this week:

1. Know when to rejuvenate
2. Define today’s reality
3. Cast a white hot vision
4. Motivate with stories
5. Empower & invite EVERYBODY in
6. Align people’s interest with the vision to build ownership

To expand on these learnings, watch this message from Bill Hybels.