Unique Summit Perspective

I had a unique perspective at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit this year.

In years past, I had been at a satellite campus near my home in Des Moines, IA, watching the experience like most everyone else. This year, however, was much different.

This year I was an official Summit blogger. That means I was responsible for tweeting, posting and sharing everything and anything I could about the Summit to the literally hundreds of thousands of people who joined us online.

Social Media Room During Summit 2011


Myself, along with Tim Schraeder, Jenni Catron, Matt Perman and Adam Jeske, were holed up in a social media bat cave deep beneath the stage at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. We had an all-access pass to capture the sights and sounds of the Summit and bring them live, via social media, to the waiting and watching world.

As the Summit transpired, I was impressed by the level of depth and maturity each speaker brought to the stage. From the humility of Mama Maggie Gorban, to the humor of John Dickson, to the encouraging challenge of Erwin McManus, each speaker called us to a deeper place.

But even with the amazing talent that was literally walking around right above us, I wasn’t most impressed by them.

“But Justin,” you might be asking, “do you have any idea who was in that room?”

I do, in fact. International best-sellers, innovators, business leaders and powerful preachers, to be precise. Talented, for sure, but not the most impressive.

I was blown away by the staff of Willow Creek Association. Everyone I encountered, from the Social Media team Summit speakers, including to Senior Pastor, Bill Hybels, was an absolute gem to work with. Not only that, they were some of the most teachable, humble people I’ve ever had the good fortune to meet. Refreshing.

In the world of Evangelicals, there are plenty of Willow Creek-clones. They see a church that’s doing well and falsely believe that emulating the building size, teaching material and staff structure will create a perfect copy.

It won’t.

I believe the staff of Willow Creek Community Church and Willow Creek Association has learned the meaning of 1 Peter 5:5, “God resists the proud but favors the humble.” God can’t help himself but to bless those who want to learn, grow and move his kingdom further. The staff and Willow Creek does just that.

And that’s what I learned at the Summit.

By: Justin Wise (@justinwise)
Social Media Director for Monk Development
Co-direct the Center for Church Communication
…and official blogger during Summit 2011

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