Q & A with Len Schlesinger

We asked Len Schlesinger, President of Babson College and Harvard Professor (and speaker at the Summit 2011), to take a minute and answer a few random questions. Enjoy!

Summit Team: What’s the biggest leadership challenge that you face right now?
Len Schlesinger: Dramatically extending the capacity of Babson to bring entrepreneurial education to people who need it or can benefit from it in the world.

ST: What do you do to keep learning and growing as a leader?
LS: Read, teach undergraduates, travel

ST: Vanilla or Chocolate?
LS: Chocolate, of course!

ST: If you had a ‘free day’ with nothing on your agenda, how would you spend the day?
LS: Sleep late, take a long walk, read, and probably go to a movie.


By: The Summit team (@wcagls)

If you’re looking for a next step…

  • On Thursday- Friday, August 11-12, leaders from around the United States will gather for The Global Leadership Summit, which exists to transform Christian leaders for the sake of the local church.


Law of the Farm

In December 2007, a young man walked into a Sunday service at New Life Church and started shooting. At the end of those terrifying moments, two young women lay dead as well as the gunman himself.

During our webcast yesterday, Brady Boyd, New Life’s Senior Pastor, shared about how he had to step up-and lead his congregation through a spiritual journey to process of the fear, the tragedy and ultimately to healing.

One of the lessons Brady shared was about the natural order of how God works, even in tragedy.  Sometimes we don’t pay attention to the natural order of things but God was creator of the natural order.

Below are Brady’s points on the ‘law of the farm’
  1. Prepare the soil. Keep your heart soft so that you are able to see and hear movements of God.
  2. Plant the seed. The seed is the word of God- read the scriptures everyday as if the scriptures are speaking to you.
  3. Water the seeds. Let God speak to you through worship. In scripture, water refers to intentional worship.
  4. Pull weeds. Weeds are things that are taking up resources but not producing any fruit.
  5. Waiting. Believing that God is at work in the invisible places of our life.  Believing that God Is at work in the soil of our hearts.

Brady says that many people think that the last point is ‘harvest’ but he reminds us that any good farmer knows it’s the waiting.  Why do you think it’s so difficult to wait and let God work in the last point? What has God taught you as you walked through your valley?


By: WCA (@wcagls)

If you’re looking for a next step….


5 Predictions of the Local Church

Pastor Brady Boyd recently wrote an article in the Huffington Post titled, Five Predictions for the Future of the Local Church. Here’s a (very) short summary of the 5 themes Brady identified in the article:

  1. The places where we gather will become smaller
  2. The church will be launched into real mission
  3. The church will return to its ancient roots
  4. The church will talk more about really important issues
  5. The church will return to wonder and awe

It got us thinking though, what does the future hold for churches worldwide?  What themes do you envision for the future of your local church? Would love to hear your thoughts!


By: WCA (@wcagls)


If you’re looking for a next step…

  • On Wednesday, June 8 (11:30 CST), Pastor Brady Boyd will be sharing some of his leadership insights during our monthly webcast series. He will discuss ways to provide spiritual leadership and process when tragedy and grief strikes those who you lead.
  • On Thursday- Friday, August 11-12, leaders from around the United States will gather for The Global Leadership Summit, which exists to transform Christian leaders for the sake of the local church.

Quitting for All the Wrong Reasons

It was a hot Oklahoma day in late May when I was thrust into my first ministry job. With very little experience, I eagerly said yes to serve 12 months with the youth ministry staff. Excitement covered every aspect of the new adventure, and much of my confidence came in the promise that I would be mentored and trained to grow into the role.

Everything was great…until July. The youth pastor who hired me and two other legacy players left the team. In less than two months, a friend and I were running the entire youth ministry.

Twelve months turned into four years as God grew my heart for ministry. Although I learned a lot by trial and error, my desire to do more was trumped by my lack of development for leading a ministry.

I started my search for an education program. After lots of searching, I found a fantastic three-year program that included hands-on training, seminary education, and mentoring that focused on my spiritual development. I packed up, said goodbye to the church I loved, and started the next step on my journey.

Every once and a while I look back and say ‘What if?’ What if I stayed in that ministry job that I wasn’t quite ready for and just kept trying harder to figure things out? When I imagine my tired soul in the middle of the demands of ministry, I’m thankful I choose the path to learn how to lead from a healthy soul.

Like many friends in ministry, I received great advice, but never gained the tools to develop a healthy rhythm or learn practical ways to stay connected to the vine while caring for so many people.

I think church leaders can lead from a healthy soul but it starts by doing ‘something’ about it. Maybe you’re like me, and you need to find a program. Not everyone has 3 years to devote to the type of training I had. So maybe you just need something build into you for a few months. Whatever your ‘something’ is, I hope you find it because your soul health is the core of your leadership. I believe it is possible!! And I’m thankful for the ministry work I now get to do with The LIFT Project because it offers leaders the chance to do ‘something’.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic- What do you think would happen in our churches if we started investing in the next generation so that they learn to lead from a healthy soul? What if leaders who have been at it for years started to prioritize their soul health and urged their staff to do the same?

By: Devon Noonan (@devoncnoonan)
Content Development, The LIFT Project
Willow Creek Association (WCA)

Consequential Leadership

In his October 2010 address to the Lausanne Congress in Cape Town, Tim Keller stated the following conviction, “the 100 most influential cites in the world will drive 100% of global innovation.”  Almost every major index of global cities lists New York City, London, Tokyo, and Paris as the four most influential cities in the world with New York City predominantly leading those lists.

The New York City Leadership Center (NYCLC) and its parent Concerts of Prayer Greater New York have partnered with Willow Creek Association to drive home the conviction that cities change culture, gospel movements change cities, and that leaders catalyze gospel movements.  Since 2005 more than 15,000 leaders have participated in 56 Metro NYC Summit sites.

As Pastor Lester Figueroa said on Staten Island – “the local church is the hope of the world.  The unity of the church is the hope of the community.”  Leaders and organizations are consequential when they understand the leverage points of global cities and the urgency of catalyzing leaders to lead gospel movements in their cities.

Change global cities and you change the world.  Change churches in those cities and you change them forever.

Praying for the leaders in your city!


By: Mac Pier
President of The NYCLC


How Full is Your Leadership Bucket?

Jerrell Jobe, a teaching pastor at Palm Valley Community Church, understands the challenge that comes from leading with a healthy soul. He recently shared with the participants in The LIFT Project course that he is facilitating:

This week I’ve been thinking that leadership, particularly leadership in ministry, is like a pond filled by two streams. One stream is the managerial side of things – logistics, vision, people, organization, administration, planning, forecasting, etc. The other stream is the substance and quality of the leader’s soul.

In order for life to thrive in the pond, it has to be fed by two healthy streams – how we deal with people and logistics AND the state of our souls. If either of these are tainted, toxic, or even merely stall – the whole pond suffers… Both are essential. And, the tension of both must be managed.

Jeff, a participant in the course responded with this:

The past months…actually years have felt like a merry-go-round for me. This class is helping me to shift the emphasis once again to live out of a full bucket.

Do you resonate with Jeff? This feeling of an empty bucket, riding on a merry-go-round, or just waiting for the next opportunity to breathe is not so un-common among church leaders and volunteers.

In this particular season, the demands may not decrease. However, your personal vitality can increase. Take just a few minutes today to look at what’s feeding your pond. How healthy are the streams flowing into it? Do you see anything that is stalled, toxic, or just a bit tainted?

Before giving anything else from your bucket, make a deposit to fill it up. Deposit by deposit, your leadership pond will grow healthier.


By: Devon Noonan (@devoncnoonan)
Content Development, The LIFT Project
Willow Creek Association (WCA)


If you’re looking for a next step….
  • You’re invited to join The LIFT Project on Thursday, May 26 to experience a sneak peek of two classes.  Feel free to choose one or join both: The Leader’s Soul (11am CST) and Leading for Transformation (1pm CST).
  • You might consider registering for The Leader’s Soul, a 7-week online course that will raise the issue of your own soul.  The soul health of the leader has a significant impact on the spiritual transformation of those you’re leading.

Take Responsibility for Your Leadership

Bill Hybels says, “For the Church to reach is redemptive potential, it must be well led.”

Leadership matters. It matters in corporations, it matters in countries, and it especially matters in churches.

Most pastors I know would agree with this. Yet, some struggle to carve out space to invest in their own leadership development. Some even feel guilty if they take the time to stretch their own leadership skills.

Yet, when pastors invest in themselves, everybody wins—their families, their staffs, their boards, and ultimately their congregation. So, take a look at your week and make some time.

As a leader, where do you go to get inspired? Where do you go to learn alongside the other people you lead?


At Willow Creek Association we host the Summit so that you can increase your leadership bandwidth. We hope you’ll be there this year. (If you’re planning on going to the Summit this year, register by today to lock in the best rates.) But, even if you can’t make it to the Summit, we still hope you take the time to invest in your development.

We’re curious, what are you going to do to invest in yourself this week? This year?

By: Andy Cook (@wca_andycook)
WCA Membership Leader

Mind the Gap

Just two weeks ago I and a small team of technical artists and musicians (most of them volunteers) returned from Düsseldorf, Germany, where we had the privilege of serving alongside hundreds of local volunteers at Willow Creek Association’s Student Ministry Conference – Mind the Gap.

For 3 days, 3,800 enthusiastic German student ministry leaders and high school students gathered for inspired teaching and passionate worship. I have no doubt that God is moving in this generation of German students desperate to see their friends and communities experience life in Jesus Christ!

A highlight for many of us was the reminder of the gift we received through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and how that compels us as Christ-followers to offer up our own lives as sacrifices so that others can also experience that same gift. Then, in a sacred and holy moment, we took communion together in small groups to seal the moment and remember the gift Christ gave us.

Here’s just a taste of what God did during Mind the Gap:


(Thanks to our video team in Germany and Brandon Grissom for the sweet background music!)

By: Jarrett Ruffino (@jarrettruffino)
International Conference Manager
Willow Creek Association



A Few Good Quotes

God moves.  God moves in our souls, in our teams, and in our church strategy.  A gathering with leaders this week produced tender God moments, dreams of what the Church can do, and sound bites for us to chew on for the days ahead.

What quote or Bible verse stood out to you this week?

  • “Grace is not opposed to effort.  Grace is opposed to earning.” –Dallas Willard
  • “The hand of God teaches you to be strong and sweet even when you don’t get what you want.” –Dallas Willard
  • “Does the gospel we preach tend to make disciples or consumers?” –Dallas Willard
  • “Cohesiveness in a body comes from the perceived need of the body by its members.”-Henry Cloud
  • “What kinds of norms (values) will shape what we envision and protect us from what we don’t want?” –Henry Cloud
  • “Is there grace in your accountability? Where there is not grace things will die.” –Henry Cloud
  • “There’s nothing about leadership that has to diminish our connection to God.” –Mindy Caliguire
  • “There is something cooler than a passionate vision. It’s the achievement of it.” – Bill Hybels
  • “The job of a pastor in a leadership team is to take the lofty ideas and make them operational in the lives of the people of the church.” – Bill Hybels
  • “The ball isn’t in the net until you’ve made significant progress towards your vision.”  – Bill Hybels
  • “As goes the leaders, so goes the church.”  – Pete Scazzero
  • “We’re are not about buildinga  crwod, we’re about building a chruch.  It’s mustard seed- it’s slow but it’s powerful.” – Pete Scazzero
  • “Everything has a life cycle.” – Pete Richardson
  • “Something that is God-breathed cannot have any person stand in the way” –Harvey Carey
  • “What would happen if you embraced the challenge of making disciples who don’t look like you?” –Harvey Carey


By: Craig Terrill (@craigterrill)
Leader, Engage
Willow Creek Association