Dallas Willard: A Call To Leaders

Words from Mindy Caliguire, Executive Team Member at WCA and friend of Dallas Willard.

As we mourn the loss of visionary, mentor, and friend Dallas Willard this week, I’d like to share one of the many gifts he gave to leaders through the Willow Creek Association: Encouragement.

In this video excerpt, Dallas speaks directly to pastors and leaders about how you too can live as a disciple of Jesus, immersed in grace, right in the midst of ministry. We all know how elusive this experience can be.

Dallas tirelessly alerted us to the reality of life in the Kingdom of God—in this very moment, right here and right now. We are forever grateful, and forever changed.

He freely gave of himself on behalf of the WCA, so that in turn, we might bless you.

So give yourself the next five minutes, turn off your phone, settle into a comfortable seat, and allow these words to speak to your soul.

WCA is humbled and thankful for the work Dallas Willard contributed to the Kingdom of God. His words of wisdom and teachings left a legacy that will live on forever.


Saying No to Fear

Post by Nancy Grisham, Thriving: Trusting God for Life to the Fullest | From Chapter 8: Saying No to Fear

We’ve all got a fear radar. It blips with the doctor’s report, a dreaded meeting, the late night phone call, the monthly bills, and at the onslaught of difficult circumstances.

There was a time when fear seldom registered on my radar. But the more I moved forward to trust God, the more I was taunted by it. One day I realized that fear had gradually colored my thinking a murky gray.

Suddenly, part of a Scripture popped into my mind, “…I was afraid, and went out and ______.”[1] However, I drew a total blank on what the man did in response to fear. The phrase fraidy-blanks popped into my mind for the wrong things we’re tempted to do in response to fear. When I got home I read the rest of the verse.

“And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground…”[2]

Fraidy-blanks lure us away from confidence in God.

The What Ifs of Fear

We’ve all heard the droning of the fraidy-blank giant. He taunts us with doubts.  “What if something happens to your…kids, marriage, health, parents, finances, job, ministry or you fail? What if God doesn’t come through for you? What if (fill in your fear)?”

Whenever we allow negative what if scenarios to hold us back from God’s best there’s a fraidy-blank lumbering through our minds.

God wants our fraidy-blanks filled with faith.

We Choose Our Focus

We can’t choose our fears, but we can choose where we focus and how we respond. There’s a story in Numbers 13 and 14 that gives us insight into conquering the fear giant. It’s about the reconnaissance troop that scouted the Promised Land. All twelve scouts experienced the same circumstances but…

Ten Men Saw…Problems…Giants and the land devours…Grasshoppers – self’s inability…Defeat… Two Men Saw…Opportunity…Promised Land…God’s faithfulness…Success…


Ten men chose to focus on the problems and themselves. As a result, they became negative, buried their hope, and were paralyzed by fear. Two men kept their eyes on God and planted their confidence in Him. Eventually, those two, Joshua and Caleb led a new generation into the Promised Land.

Like the twelve spies our perspective greatly influences our response. In this story, and in life, there are three primary grids of focus.

1.  GIANT GRID—focus on people, problems, and circumstances

2.  GRASSHOPPER GRID—focus on ourselves, inabilities (or abilities)

3.  GOD GRID—focus on God, His promises and greatness

We can choose where we focus. Seeing difficulties through the God Grid gives us true perspective – God is always greater.

We Choose Confidence in God

When you face the fear giant what’s your default grid? Is your focus usually on the problem, on yourself, or on God? In every circumstance, you and I can choose to lock our focus on Christ and on His Word. Only then can we see clearly to fill our fraidy-blanks with faith and plant our confidence in God and His faithfulness.

[1] Mat 25:25 (NASB)

[2] Mat 25:25 (NASB)

Nancy Grisham is the author of Thriving: Trusting God for Life to the Fullest. Through the speaking ministry of Livin’ Ignited she helps people to live to the fullest in Christ and equips churches in outreach. She has a PhD from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, has been a faculty member at Wheaton College, and an evangelism pastor in a church of 6,500. She left a business career that included executive-level management to enter full-time ministry. Contact her through www.livinignited.com.

Vision Leaks

Excerpt from Leadership Axioms by Bill Hybels. Download a FREE chapter HERE.

Vision Leaks. -Bill Hybels

Ask key staff, “How full is your vision bucket these days?” Ask volunteers, Do you sense progress around here toward our vision?” Ask members of your congregation, Which part of our church’s vision is the most meaningful to you?”

Get a gauge on how full buckets are around you, leader, and then get busy topping them off. 

Be challenged, equipped and inspired. Register for The Global Leadership Summit 2013. 

When Home Lead

As the Sr. Pastor of a large church and large staff I found myself consumed with being the very best leader I could be for my staff and people. I attended leadership conferences, read leadership books and even met with other leaders in my community so I could continue to grow as a leader. Yet, being completely honest with you, there were many times during my Sr. Pastor years that I would come home completely exhausted and empty and I would have nothing to give to my wife or daughter. By the time I would get home I didn’t have the capacity to pray, read the Bible, listen or engage in any form of faith talk with them as all I wanted to do was collapse in the recliner and let some sort of ball game on TV take me away!

How many times have we seen pastors, who are seemingly doing a very successful job leading their churches, have marriages and families that fall apart? Could it be that in our zeal to be good leaders we are forgetting that the foundation of our leadership begins at home?

Research from the Barna Group brought us face to face with a harsh reality that less than 10% of church going households engage in prayer (other than a mealtime prayer) Bible reading, devotions or worship in the home. It is clear for many people today, faith is something you do at church or outsource to the church. This reality is concluding in severe consequences that can be seen through;

  • the number of Christian leaders consistently having moral failures
  • a divorce rate that is equal for Christian couples and non Christian couples
  • the fact that 60-90% of our children, who are participating in church programs today, walk away from Christianity as young adults because they believe it is hypocritical   

I refuse to be one of those statistics and I refuse to lead my staff into these realities. So something had to change. I had to seek out where the root of my leadership began…in my very own home. I needed to place a higher value on my faith and leadership at home for my family, my church and myself. In fact, it needed to become my highest priority.

What good is it if we are great leaders at church but not within the walls of our home? 

That is hypocrisy in its truest form and I didn’t want to perpetuate hypocrisy within the team and congregation. So I rallied my team and our vision changed…our focus changed and we committed ourselves to being faith at home focused church. Our strategy changed from starting within the church to starting within the home and we wanted to lead people to do the same. The truth is, I am only a successful leader if I am successfully leading my family at home.

Mark Holmen is a husband, father, pastor, coach, speaker and author of numerous books including Church + Home – A Simple Faith@Home Strategy for Churches, Faith Begins at Home, and his newly released book Impress Faith on Your Kids. Mark, his wife Maria and daughter Malyn currently live in Ventura, california where the now serve as full-time Missionaries for the Faith@Home movement: www.faithathome.com.


You’re Not Done…Empowering the Next Generation

Nothing so dates a man as to decry the younger generation. -Adlai E. Stevenson

Young people…they have more and expect more than any previous generation. It’s easy to dismiss them as entitled or just plain immature. But let’s not forget they’re the future of the church and hold an incredible capacity for changing the world. As the current generation of leaders, it’s our job to empower and inspire this generation to make a difference.

Our Leadership Summit in Zimbabwe gave us a glimpse into the power of this inter-generational exchange of leadership.  Craig Groeschel, Geoffrey Canada and Mark Kielburger spoke powerfully on the importance of building into this generation. These talks were so impactful, one of the Zimbabwean business leaders in attendance immediately gathered a group of 150 young adults aged 18-30 and challenged them to get involved in community programs. This gathering took place just two days after the Summit and was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister who personally addressed the young adults using materials from the Summit. The response was so positive, local leaders plan to make this a regular component of their local Summit experience.

Craig Groeschel gives this advice to the leaders of tomorrow:

  • Honor those who have come before you
  • Don’t be afraid to lead up
  • Learn to be under authority with integrity
  • Serve those over you faithfully
  • Create ongoing feedback loops
  • Seek out mentoring from those you respect

As a leader in your church or community, you need to respond to young leaders following this advice. You need to support them, mentor them and provide an example of integrity and faithfulness worth following. As you think about your own leadership legacy, consider the following:

  • Who will you hand the baton to?
  • What opportunities have you created for upcoming leaders?
  • Is a young leader in your community inspired by your long-term vision, or are they more likely to try something new?

Identify 4-5 leaders in your community. Build into them. Encourage them. Equip them for impact. The future of the church depends on it.

The Silent Organizational Killer

Re-Post by Scott Williams

It’s never easy and never fun to watch a business, team or organization die. It’s even harder when they die a slow, painful and what appears to be silent death.

The reality is businesses never die a silent death, there are always signs, symptoms and indicators of trouble. The Silent Organization Killer is actually the silence of the individuals within the organization that see the problems but are unwilling or unable to voice their concerns.

Organizations may have drastic turnover and the organizational leader’s response is to simply write the turnover off with comments such as, “We are a fast-paced culture… they couldn’t hang.” People within the organization actually see the real problems and the root of the problems; however their unwillingness to voice those concerns upwards contributes to the death of the organization.

On the flip side, when employees share their concerns, observations and thoughts about issues, organizational leaders must listen. If those concerns fall on deaf ears now you have two silent organizational killers: 1.) The employees that are unwilling to share and 2.) The employer that is unwilling to listen.

Practical Closing Tip: Share concerns, be sensitive to what’s being shared, look in the mirror and make tough decisions.

View Scott’s original post here.

Author, speaker, ideapreneur, international consultant and former LifeChurch.tv Pastor Scott Williams currently serves as the Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions; a strategy firm which helps some of the largest churches, non-profits, and Fortune 100 companies with internal and external growth.


Move. A word that captures the discipleship passion all pastors share: to help move their people’s hearts and lives to a deeper love of God and others. Now MOVE For Church Planters provides a powerful, condensed summary of how any church and, in particular, newly established churches can be more effective at discipleship. This concisely written eBook is based on the top findings for church planters to emerge from REVEAL, an unprecedented survey launched by Willow Creek Community Church in 2004 that now represents the input of close to half a million people in 1,500 churches. And it includes a never-before-available bonus: an interview with Willow Creek’s senior pastor, Bill Hybels, who’s based on nearly four decades of ministry experience shares what he would do, the same and differently, if he were starting a church today. Bill’s counsel, plus the insights provided by churches of every size, denomination, and geographic area, make MOVE For Church Planters a must-read for those dreaming about the promise of the new churches they are in the process of planning, launching or growing to their greatest potential.

Download Move by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins

Download the FREE E-book here.



Be Patient & Don’t Elope: When Hiring Goes from Good to Ghastly

Re-post by Jenni Catron, Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville

Hiring is one of the most complicated yet possibly the most critical parts of our job as leaders.

But time and time again I see leaders make hasty decisions when it comes to hiring.  Most of the time, their haste has good reason.  An employee just left leaving a gaping hole of responsibilities… budget was finally approved for the role that you’ve desperately needed for months, perhaps years… you’re so overwhelmed you’ll do anything to get some help.

We’ve all felt one or more of those pains when it comes to staffing.

But oftentimes these stressors that are driving us cause us to overlook the significance of our decision.

Hiring is like a marriage.

You are making a long-term commitment to that individual and they to you.  You are creating an expectation of security, longevity and belonging.  This gets even more complicated for those of you in ministry roles.  The people you hire and their families are intricately woven into your church community.  Their family, friends and community revolve around their job.  They potentially lose significant anchors of belonging if their job comes to an end.

This is why how you hire is critical.

Too many hiring managers elope after the first date.  They have a great interview with a great candidate and they rush to make an offer.

Unfortunately these hasty hiring decisions are often the ones that become extraordinarily painful down the road.

You must have a good, thorough, consistent hiring process for your organization.  And you must teach and train all of your staff to engage and support that system.  In my 15+ years of being a hiring manager I have never regretted a slow hire but I have unfortunately felt the pains of a quick elopement.

If you don’t have a formalized hiring process, here are some steps to consider:

  • Interview some great organizations to learn how their hiring process works.
  • Use some resources and tools that give you objective information from which to interview and evaluate the candidate.  We use the Leading from Your Strengths Assessment and Position Profile tools from Ministry Insights.
  • Consider what has worked well in hiring in the past and what has not worked so well.  Write out the steps that you believe are essential moving forward.
  • Gather a few of your key staff to discuss what you feel is essential for your hiring process.
  • Build a plan and then try it out on your next hire.

Be patient and don’t elope.

I promise you’ll thank me!

About Jenni Catron: Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville. Founder of Cultivate Her. Loves great books, the perfect cup of tea, playing a game of tennis with her husband and hanging with her dog Mick.

Leadership is a Craft

Leadership is a craft. And gaining mastery over our leadership skills requires intentionality. No one drifts their way into becoming a better leaders. We hone our leadership gifts by placing ourselves in intentional growth environments. If you want to be a better leader you need to go where leadership is taught. And the pay off is huge.

Your’e a leader. Its your job to keep your passion hot. Do whatever you have to do. Go where ever you have to go to stay fired up as a leader.

Will you be at the Summit this year?

The 9:05

Post by Andy Cook, Executive Director of Ministry Operations at Willow Creek Association

Every morning as WCA’s ministry operations team prepares to serve the greatest leaders on planet earth, we gather for a brief meeting we call “The 9:05.”  The idea comes straight out of Summit faculty member Patrick Lencioni’s book Death by Meeting and has paid enormous dividends for our team.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Every morning, we gather at 9:05 a.m. according to the time on our phone system.  The idea of having an “official” clock may seem weird to some, but it’s amazing how much margin of error there exists between cell phones and other clocks in our lives.
  2. Nobody sits down.  This is a standing meeting and nobody talks for more than a minute.
  3. We all answer the question: “What’s hot today? What are we working on today?”  We keep a very narrow focus to this meeting and nobody talks for more than about a minute.  This took some practice.  In our first several months, we wavered between talking too long and not saying enough.  We pushed through the initial awkwardness and now we do pretty well at holding each other to this timeframe.
  4. Team members who answer phone calls talk first, just in case the opportunity arises for us to serve a leader who calls in during our meeting and that person has to step out of the circle for a few minutes. As the leader, I usually go last.   It helps me talk less and listen first.  It also gives me an outlet to share any updates or changes with the team.
  5. We end by putting our hands in the center and saying “with God.”  We know it’s a little cheesy.  This past summer, one of our interns added the element of saying “team” at the end (similar to how sports teams end their huddle).  Recently we’ve changed to saying “with God” because we feel like it helps us all remember our collective desire to do our entire days in a spirit of being with God.  At one point, we thought about adding a closing prayer, but our concern was that it would extend our time beyond ten minutes.  Our team is packed with some prayer warriors, so this was a hard thing to not include, but we really wanted to keep this as a focused time to check in with each other and dedicate other times for prayer.

Here’s what it has done for our team:

  1. Communication.  Before we made this a regular practice, information flow was often uneven.  Since our team is on the frontlines, this led to some awkward and even embarrassing conversations with guests.  Having this practice in place helps us all sync up every morning.  As a leader, I’m never more than 24 hours away from my next opportunity to keep the whole team informed.
  2. Clarity.  We’ve all gained a better understanding of each other’s roles and how they all fit together in helping us serve leaders.  Team members can also request or offer support when the load is uneven.  We love when this happens and it helps us all gain appreciation for each other!
  3. Accountability.  We can check in with each other about ongoing projects and it forces all of us to think through our “list” first thing in the morning.
  4. Community.  We have a much better sense for what’s going on in each other’s lives.  Every once in a while, we share news about what God is doing in our families or in life outside of work.  While we don’t pray in the 9:05, we are much better informed in how we pray for each other in the other times.

Summit Faculty Member, Patrick Lencioni, includes several helpful tools for explaining his meetings model on his website, including “The Daily Check-In” from which we developed our “9:05”.

What about your team?  Do you have any regular practices that help you stay connected?

Andy Cook leads ministry operations for the WCA, the team that manages all the logistics for The Global Leadership Summit and serves WCA’s member church network.  He loves pastors and coffee (usually together).  He’s crazy about his wife and two little girls and serves as a volunteer at Mission Church, a church plant in Bloomingdale, IL. Follow him on Twitter: @mrandycook