Notes from Session 1 with Bill Hybels

Post by Tommy Bowman

1. Courageous leadership demands a nonstop flow of fortitude until your dying day. 

  • As leaders our primary responsibility is to move people from here to there.
  • We must lead people to become discontent with where we are.

2. Courageous leadership requires you to admit your current reality.

  • Don’t be afraid to admit the current reality to your team…they already know.
  • Movement starts when you ruthlessly admit your current reality.

3. Courageous leadership requires you build a fantastic culture.

  • As Lencioni preaches, organizational health is your greatest advantage.
  • Willow Creek has been using Better Christian Workplaces to improve Willow’s culture and health.
  • “People join organizations. People leave managers.”
  • People are either Culture Builders or Culture Busters.

4. Courageous leadership requires the establishment of values.

  • Invaluable values creep into your organization.
  • We must have the courage to eliminate them and build new values.

My One Takeaway:

The word fortitude is staying with me. Fortitude is courage in pain or adversity. Hybels reminded the christian leader that “visions are holy commodities” and we have to stand before God one day. Every vision will test the medal of a leader.

My One Application:

This is timely for me. In fact, Bill announced a few weeks back that he was opening the Summit with this topic and I’ve been anxiously awaiting today. This week I have begun to speak out loud a vision that God gave me 9 months ago. I have also admitted to people close to me about how scared I have been about this vision. As Bill urged, I will not abort this vision secretly.

My One Question:

What is the vision that God has given you that is requiring courage to even speak out loud? Perhaps you can speak it out loud for the first time here at the Global Leadership Summit. Find someone and tell them! Leave a comment with your vision. Begin to prayer Joshua 1:9 into your vision!

About Tommy Bowman: Tommy is the Directional Leader at Mission Church in the suburbs of Chicago. Tommy’s passion is to take proven leadership values and principles from the business world and implement them into the world of church and church teams.

Is It Really Worth It?

Our team has been challenged, recently, to evaluate our online efforts, particularly in the area of social media. Is it a worthwhile way to spend our time (it’s not known as The Great Time Suck for nothing, afterall)? Is it possible to do real ministry online? Or is it all just a trend that is destined to fade? Is there a measurable return on our effort? Is it important or is it too risky? Does it really help us in our mission to help churches thrive? Is this web-social media-online thing really worth it?

We don’t have all the answers. Much like you, we’re still figuring out a lot of this as we go. But here’s what we know today:

[Read more…]

You’re Always In a Season

Leaders are always in a ‘season’. Over 200+ partner churches around the United States are at the height of Summit season. As you prepare your heart for what you’ll experience at the Summit this year, we encourage you take time to know what season you’re in. In this expert from Leadership Axioms Bill challenges our personal and organizational awareness.

What season are you in?

I’m in and out of local churches nearly every week, and I love to test leaders’ organizational awareness by asking a straightforward question: “What season are you in as a church?” The most perceptive leaders I know fire back an answer to that question without batting an eye: “We’re in a growth season right now,” or “We’ve been on a plateau for far too long, and people are getting frustrated,” or “We’ve run our volunteers ragged and probably need to slow the pace and let people catch their breath,” or “We’ve gone through more change cycles in the past ninety days than should be legal, but things are finally starting to settle out a bit.” A key responsibility of the leader is to know what season the organization is in, to name it, and then to communicate the implications of that season to his or her followers.

This leadership-seasons idea traces back to Ecclesiastes 3:1, which says that “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Most leaders nod consent at that line of thinking but simultaneously neglect to tell their followers what season they’re in! And based on my experience, people sitting in your organization will have no clue what season they’re in unless you tell them. Do yourself and those you lead the favor of learning to spot the changing of the seasons in your environment. When you see growth bloom or transition hit or feel the icy days of malaise descend, draw attention to the shift. Give voice to the realities of that season. Assign appropriate language to it, designate helpful parameters to succeeding within it, and confidently offer solutions for moving through it. You’re always in a season, leader. It’s your role to know which it is and what to do about it.

What tools do you use to stay in tune with the seasons of your organization? What about your personal seasons – how do you build the muscle of self-assessment?

Thanks to Bill Hybels for sharing his words from the book Leadership Axioms. To read more and to find Bill’s other titles check out our resources at

Bill Hybels: Vision and Strategy

This is an excerpt from an article titled, “Vision and Strategy for a Bible-Centered Community,” featured in the July–Aug ’12 issue of Bible Study Magazine, a publication that gives readers tools and methods for studying the Bible. To read the article in full, subscribe at Subscribe before July 31st with the coupon code BSMHYBELS to get $5.00 of the subscription price.. Hybels - Bible Study Mag

Bill Hybels pushes to develop leaders in the Christian community. Toward this end, The Willow Creek Association created The Global Leadership Summit, a two-day event that draws thousands of attendees to the Chicago area and tens of thousands to satellite and videocast events all over the world. “There aren’t very many places church leaders can turn that convene a world-class faculty to sharpen the leadership gifts. They need a regular investment—they need an infusion of vision, skill and training.”

“I sat down with a couple of my friends and said, ‘What if we try to raise up the value and the competence of pastors and Christian influencers all around the world in the area of leadership?’ I didn’t care if 15 people came or if 2,500 people came. My commitment was to find the best faculty that knew a lot about leadership to improve people’s ability to lead Christian organizations, local churches and businesses.”
“That was 15 or 16 or so years ago, and it is now simulcast all over North America; 85 other countries will translate it into 35 foreign languages. We are dumbfounded at the response. … We’re watching God do this amazing thing, and we’re very grateful and humbled to be a part of it.”

“I work with thousands of pastors around the country whose churches are flourishing and they have a white-hot vision for what God has for their future. They teach the Scriptures unapologetically, they have fantastic worship, they’re baptizing hundreds of people a year, young and old are coming, rich and poor are coming, and black and white are coming. … I stay pretty enthusiastic because I see these kinds of churches rising up. They are the ones Jesus said that the gates of hell could not prevail against.”

Bill Hybels reflects

The Global Leadership Summit is less than two months away! The best time to register your team is now – before Early Bird pricing ends on June 26th. We thought we’d share some of Bill’s thoughts from last year’s Summit – it’s a powerful reminder on the impact the event brings. Share this with other leaders in your life as you consider who might need an invitation to attend with you.

The deadline party is still going strong! Today we’re giving away a stack of Bill Hybels’ books. Share this post on Twitter or Facebook and leave a comment below and let us know what moments from 2011 have stuck with you. We’ll select a winner on Monday.

Leading the leaders

This is an excerpt from an article titled, “Lead Where You Are” printed in the May/June 2012 edition of Quintessential Barrington magazine. Read the full article at

2012 Faculty photo

As the leader of one of the largest churches in the United States, with an average weekend attendance of 24,000, Bill Hybels knows something about leadership. And he tends to think big. So when he and WCA president Jim Mellado started brainstorming ways to disseminate leadership knowledge to church leaders around the globe, Willow’s staff sensed something substantial was on the horizon.

Global Leadership Summit Executive Producer Corinne Ferguson knew it from the start. “When Bill first approached us with the idea, he said ‘It doesn’t have to be big; just a gathering of pastors with some folks who can teach them leadership skills’,” Ferguson says. “We knew better.” It turned out those “folks” were the likes of bestselling author and leadership expert John Maxwell, megachurch pastor Rick Warren, Good to Great author Jim Collins, and football great Mike Singletary.

In 1995, the Global Leadership Summit’s (GLS) first year, 2,000 gathered at Willow Creek Community Church to hear Hybels and business author and consultant Pat MacMillan talk about leadership. The energy in the room told Hybels they’d struck a chord. He said, “By noon the first day, I thought, ‘This is going to be unbelievable—everybody’s going to win!’” Pastors left equipped to lead their organizations; leaders of secular organizations returned to work with a renewed sense of purpose. By 1998, the event was selling out a year in advance.

So why do church and lay leaders go out of their way to attend the once-yearly GLS when training is readily available elsewhere? Google returns nearly 26 million results for “leadership training,” and one click buys any of Amazon’s 75,169 leadership books. Yet the same leaders allocate time and resources to return to the GLS each year, bringing increasingly large groups—and often entire organizations. Many come for the interdisciplinary approach: an MBA with soul. The Summit’s faculty of high-caliber religious and secular leaders, each delivering a compelling message in the context of a world-class production, forms the core of the GLS. Yet Willow has come under fire from those who believe business leaders have no place teaching pastors how to run their churches. “But if we can just humble ourselves to learn from one another, everyone benefits,” Hybels says. “We’re not inviting the business leaders here to teach theology—if Jack Welch or Ashish Nanda has a theology, I’m sure not aware of it.” What they do have is proven leadership knowledge, and a desire to communicate it to the GLS’s receptive audience.

The giveaway party continues!
Has The Summit rocked your world yet? Do you know someone who needs an infusion of leadership training like only The Summit can bring? As a part of our Early Bird Deadline Party, we’re giving away a stack of CDs from some of our favorite Summit messages. Leave us a comment about your experience with the Summit and share this post on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll select one comment tomorrow afternoon. Don’t forget to register your team before best pricing ends on June 26th!