Be Here Now

After a couple of years of imagining what was possible with projections and live performance, we were finally able to try something big at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. Graphics by Ryan Trommer, original score by Nate Yaccino, and one key photo by Joshua Longbrake.

By: Blaine Hogan (@BlaineHogan)

Blaine Hogan is the Experience Engineer at Willow Creek Community Church. He creates sacred spaces using sound, visual, and performance art. He blogs at also you can follow Blaine on twitter.

Transforming Lives is God’s Work

“There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. It transforms lives heart by heart, soul by soul, life by life. Its potential is unlimited. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.” – Bill Hybels

Transforming lives is God’s work alone. Yet, in His infinite grace and wisdom, He invites his people to join Him in His life changing work. This is both a mystery and a proven process, visible in the daily lives of those who follow Christ and see to become more like him.

In the past months our staff has been blessed to hear and read the stories of lives that have been transformed and communities that have been changed.

We’re committed to support, challenge, and envision local churches, leaders, and believers. We consider it a great privilege to hold up a vision that every church might reach its full redemptive potential.

Blessings and prayers to you and your team this season!

By: Jim Mellado (@JimMellado)
President, WCA

Avoid Being “Bigger Than the Game”

The sports headlines are all carrying the same message last week; “The Anniversary of The Scandal.”

You don’t have to read the articles to know that they’re talking about Tiger Woods. It’s been a year since his fall from grace; a year since that notorious car accident in front of his house, and the subsequent revelation that golf’s wonder boy had ruined his family, and his reputation, by maintaining adulterous affairs with as many as a dozen or more mistresses.

It took Woods many months before he finally addressed the media about his failings, but when he did a single sentence said it all.

“I thought I was bigger than the game.”

Bigger than the game. How many leaders have we seen come crashing down because they thought they had arrived at the place where they were above the rules?

Think of King Saul. Israel’s first King had it all. Samuel describes him as “as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.” (1 Samuel 9:2) As King, Saul had a 30-year run in leadership and achieved great things for Israel.

But eventually he thought he was bigger than the game. He took it upon himself to offer sacrifices; something God permitted only a priest to perform.

Samuel’s rebuke of Saul was as stinging as anything Tiger Woods ever heard. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure.” (1 Samuel 13: 13-14)

I don’t know what all of this means for you, but let me suggest three questions that will help you discern if you might be acting like you are bigger than the game:

  • Do you ever allow yourself more latitude than you would extend to your staff?
  • Do you ever rebuke your staff for behavior you know you’re guilty of yourself?
  • Do you ever expect more of your team than you’re willing to commit to yourself?

Weigh in on this… How do you prevent yourself from behaving like you’re bigger than the “game”?

By: Scott Cochrane (@WScottCochrane)
Former ‘marketplace guy’ and executive pastor, and now executive director at
The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada.

Post used with permission from Scott’s Blog: A Leader’s Journey (Thanks Scott!)

What Would Jack Do?

We want you to be among the first to hear that our movement of churches was highlighted in the latest edition of Fast Company magazine. The article, “What Would Jack Do? How Willow Creek Is Leading Evangelicals by Learning From the Business World” quotes several WCA pastors and leaders and describes the kind of churches we aim to lead.

> Read Full Article

By: WCA (@wcagls)

Same Label… Different Application

Every business, regardless of tax-exempt status, applies strategic planning (well, at least in theory!). However, in a ministry, strategic planning has a different dynamic, because someone else is at the table. God.

In the secular world, the answers needed for success must be pulled out of you and your team—from your knowledge, experience, and abilities. In ministry, that same strategic planning process acknowledges that our plans are not good enough alone, nor does our success depend solely on our own skills and abilities. God is the difference maker.

In a church or other faith based organizations, our job as the leader responsible for strategic planning is to be student #1 of where the Spirit is leading us. We live with questions like:

  • Where is God active?
  • Where is He moving?
  • How do we align others around our best strategies, tactics, and activities to join God?

That’s the never-ending challenge—to look for evidence of God, act consistently with where God is moving, and fight off our own agendas. The strategy and solution of where we need to go is best found outside of ourselves and in God’s activity.

By: Jim Mellado (@JimMellado)
President, WCA

Emotionally Healthy Leadership: 8 Challenges

I spent most of my adult life reading great leadership books. Emotionally Healthy Spirituality led me on a journey, however, to recognize there were unique issues to church leadership that were rarely discussed. I have identified eight unique leadership challenges, each of which is powerful and far reaching in their implications. Each is worthy of a chapter or a book itself. I have crafted them in the form of tensions that we hold as leaders.

1. Dual Relationships- Supervision and Being Friends
We are a church family and we often hire our friends who then become our employees. The result is I become both your pastor/spiritual leader/supervisor and friend. Which is it? We hire people we mentor and then they become our employees with a contractual agreement and money is exchanged. We are naïve to admit that all things are equal. They are not when we have the power to fire or increase/decrease someone’s pay. The people we lead do not have the same power over us. Friends enjoy an equal power relationship.

Dual relationships create countless opportunities for misunderstandings. Am I saying, “Don’t ever do it?” No, just do it with your eyes open. The risk is enormous. Failures and broken friendships abound in church leaderships around the world.

2. Hiring/Firing and Being a Church Family
This is perhaps our most difficult challenge as church leaders. To terminate a person in the corporate world is painful. In a church setting, it is excruciating. We became pastors and leaders to serve and help people, not hurt them. Yet if we don’t steward God’s resources well by hiring and firing well, we betray our people who trust we are leading well and doing the right thing.

3. Strategic Planning and Waiting on God
Balancing the process of goal setting and the strategic planning process with prayerful discernment is no small task. What is God saying? What season are we in as a church/organization? What is God’s will for us? The fact that a door is open and we can do something does not mean it is His will for us now. Jesus struggled with the will of the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had to submit his will to the Father. How much more do we?

4. Preaching/Teaching and Our Integrity
It is easy to preach what we are not living. I know. People trust we have spent the time with God in prayer and stillness to speak for Him publicly. People trust we are living what we are preaching. If we can’t say “Imitate me as I imitate Christ,” then we need to press the pause button. Investing time in our development and growth is perhaps the greatest contribution we make to our teaching and to our people.

5. Leading the Church and the Marriage Vow
Ephesians 5:32 says that our earthly marriage is a pointer of something beyond itself – of the profound mystery of Christ’s marriage to His bride, the church. Our marriage, if we are married, is our most powerful message to our churches. It is a sacrament, imaging something invisible! The marriage vow is both a limit and a gift. Like a monastic vow it informs all we do and every decision we make every day. To expand our churches as if we were single is a violation of Scripture and our vows.

6. Social Media/Technology and the Ancient Church
God has called us, like the apostle Paul, to contextualize the gospel and bring Christ to our culture. That culture today is Twitter, blogging, Facebook and the worldwide web. At the same time we learn from the great cloud of witnesses who have preceded us. We learn from church history and the early church fathers (e.g. Ignatius of Antioch, Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria, Basil, Gregory the Great, Augustine) who were leaders of local churches, theologians, and monks who prayed their theology. We are called to be an “Ancient/Future Church.”

7. The Gift of Limits and Casting Vision
The issue of limits touches the core of our tendency to do our will not God’s, to rebel rather than submit, to grasp rather than surrender. Adam and Eve violated God’s limits. Jesus submitted to the Father’s in the wilderness. We are called to lead our people into the God’s future. We carry the tension, however, that we easily can take over Gods’ work for Him, violate His protective gift of limits, and unleash chaos into our churches. Remember: “a man can receive only what is given him from heaven” John 3:27.

8. Listening to God in Our Losses and Leading by Faith
In every church relationships end, ministries die, dreams dissipate and leaders move on. Jeremiah, Jesus, Job, and David had a full-orbed theology for the disorientation that comes with loss and grieving. Integrating this into our Western church culture of leadership that is always growing and expanding to take the next hill is problematic. We are called to lead our people forward. The discernment question is whether that means leading them to listen to God internally first before moving into the next new initiative.

What are other tensions that you would add to this list?

By: Pete Scazzero (@petescazzero)
Senior Pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in New York and author of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

This post was printed with permission from Pete’s Blog, (Thanks Pete!)

Finding Your Leadership Voice

Our WCA team in Canada asked Nancy Beach, “What are some of the things that you have done to find your voice in leadership?” Nancy answers the question in the below 2 min video.

“Many women leaders need to develop the right kind of talking back- the ability to present an alternative view, challenge the status quo, and exert one’s own unique voice. Talking back effectively does not require a leader to be strident, offensive, controlling, or hostile. Rather, a woman leader must develop the muscle of talking back from an inner core of strongly held values and beliefs, and a willingness to face her fears and even harness her anger to communicate with clarity, logic, and passion.” -Nancy Beach

By: WCA (@wcagls)

Nancy Beach and Nancy Ortberg will be LIVE in Maryland on October 27th and in Kansas on November 10th for Gifted to Lead, an interactive forum for women with the gift of leadership.

The Way God Makes a Lasting Impression

In 1 Kings 19, God sends word to Elijah to go stand on the side of the mountain where God will reveal Himself. What if God said to you today, “Go outside and wait because I’m going to show up.” Let me just say, I know I’d be going (and probably bring my camera!).

1 Kings 19:11-12: The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

The Bible says that a powerful wind started to blow, and it blew part of the mountain away. But God was not in the wind, and it died away. Then there was a powerful earthquake that shook the mountain. Elijah thought, ‘This must be God.’ But the text says, God was not in the earthquake. Then a consuming fire ignited, but God wasn’t in fire. After all of the displays of power, God shows up in a gentle whisper.

Is this the way to making a lasting impression on a prophet with a faltering faith?

No earthquake, no wind, no fire. God just wants to talk—heart to heart. What God is trying to do is establish relationship through conversation, rather than an explosion of some kind. It’s the same thing that God is trying to do today: establish and strengthen His relationship with you.

Scripture tells us, cover-to-cover, that God speaks to us through His whispers, His prompts, and His words. I’m a Christian today because of a whisper. And I’m a fired-up Christian today because of the still small voice of God that keeps speaking to me day in and day out.

If you’re waiting for some cosmic act of transcendent power, lower the ambient noise of your life and start listening for His still small voice. Listen. God still offers gentle invitations into relationships, gentle words of wisdom, gentle warnings; but the question is, will we listen? Will we respond?

When you’re in the kind of relationship with God where you hear God’s voice and you obey, He will do absolutely incredible things in and through your life. Are you up for that?

By: Bill Hybels (@BillHybels)
Senior Pastor, Willow Creek Community Church


If you’re looking for a next step, sign up for the webcast on October 29th with Bill Hybels and Jim Mellado: Whispers: Hearing God and Responding. (We’d love to hear your questions for Bill Hybels about discerning God’s voice. If you have a question, you can post it here.)

What Will You Ask Bill Hybels?

One of the greatest thrills of the Christ-following life comes from hearing directly from God. Time and again the Scriptures tell us to be still. “Be silent, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). Reduce your speed. Stop multitasking.
Lower the ambient noise of your life—and then
listen for God to speak.
On October 29th, I’m taking an hour to interview Bill Hybels (which will be streamed LIVE via webcast) about what listening to and obeying God can do for a leader’s soul, a church, and even a community. As I prepare for the interview, I’d love to hear your suggestions for questions to ask Bill.

If you could ask Bill Hybels one question about discerning God’s voice, what would it be?

By: Jim Mellado (@JimMellado)
President, WCA