A season of hope for the future

Merry Christmas!

As many of us are putting final touches on our Christmas celebrations, teams in Haiti and Mexico are preparing to open their doors to the last two GLS events of 2013! We resume the GLS season on January 10 in Taiwan and by March 2014, an additional 11,000 leaders will experience the GLS.

During the past few months, we’ve heard incredible stories of God’s provision, protection, and movement in the lives of leaders from every segment of society around the world. We have so much to be thankful for and to celebrate!

Please continue to pray for the global impact of churches as they present the gospel message that tells about the King of Kings who brings lasting justice, peace, and redemption to our broken world. Thank you for the investment you and your teams are making in developing Christ-centered leaders. You are critically important in seeing God’s Kingdom restored on Earth.

Despite threats of violent opposition, leaders in Toluca, Mexico celebrate the third year of the GLS

After last year’s GLS, threats against the members of the Steering Committee and their families forced them into hiding for a few months. While we can’t mention the name of the pastor/businessman who leads the team, he took on the challenge to expand the GLS despite violent opposition and the risk it would be shut down.

He sees his city’s desperate need for godly leadership and understands the impact it has on transforming communities. Despite the risks, he is committed to bringing the GLS to leaders who need it most.

His approach to making the GLS a reality involved engaging high-level leaders within the local government, including the mayor, who not only showed interest in the event, she threw her support behind it. She and other government leaders are beginning to see the value and importance of great leadership and its impact on society and the ills they face today. The mayor sponsored the event at a neutral venue in a local hotel, and 270 leaders from all over the city attended.

Macedonia holds its first GLS

When Macedonia received its independence in 1991, it was one of the least developed republics in Eastern Europe. The church has suffered under government oppression that has restricted church growth and church planting. As a result, the majority of the population is unreligious. Against this backdrop, the GLS was held for the first time. It was a small start, but Christian leaders and pastors were encouraged, stating that this is the best leadership training available to them. Do not despise these small beginnings for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin (Zechariah 4:10 NLT )

A glimpse at the GLS in France, Russia, and Kazakhstan

View more pictures and stories at www.willowcreek.com/followthegls

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:14

Please continue to pray for our friends in Haiti and Mexico as the hold their GLS events this month.

Leadership matters—especially in times like these

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Lenin is toppled, but the GLS stays strong!

In the midst of a revolution in Kiev, Ukraine, protestors toppled an iconic statue of Lenin. The government commandeered the use of the building that was scheduled to be used for leadership training for church pastors. And the GLS was at risk for being shut down. God intervened and the GLS took place as scheduled. 900 church leaders, hungry for change in their lives and in their country, crowded into the space reserved for 830. Leadership matters—especially in times like these!

Courageous leadership in Bangalore, India

In India, a country where only two percent of the population practices Christianity, Christian leaders face daily opposition as they live out their faith. Against a backdrop of oppression, the GLS offered an opportunity for 300 like-minded Christian leaders to gather for inspiration from the GLS and were particularly impacted by Bill Hybels’ session on courage.

Encouraging feedback means growth for Leon, Mexico

The 290 church leaders who attended the GLS in Leon, Mexico were particularly gripped by Chris Brown’s “Right Title, Wrong Kingdom,” and his challenge to examine whether they are building God’s kingdom or their own reputation. Encouraged by the participants’ feedback, the GLS committee is committed to expanding in this region of Mexico so more leaders have the opportunity to experience high levels of growth and inspiration.

A Shared Vision in Jordan

Despite great opposition and persecution, 250 church leaders from various countries in the Middle East gathered in Jordan for the GLS. With a shared vision to reach their countries for Christ, they are committed to maximizing the opportunities God provides—including the impact of GLS training, resources, and inspiration.

More than 525 leaders attended the GLS in Liberia

Facing two long decades of violence, corruption, poverty, and a crumbling infrastructure, 525 church leaders in Liberia turned to the GLS for encouragement and direction in rebuilding their churches and communities. The GLS brought world-class training and resources to this war-torn part of the world where they are needed most.

Record attendance at GLS in Taiwan

More than 2,200 church, business, and government leaders flocked to six different cities in Taiwan, to attend the GLS, making 2013 the highest attended GLS in this Asian country. Numerous stories of impact include one from Chung-jen who was encouraged by Bill Hybels’ message on courage. Chung-jen’s battle with Stage IV liver cancer made it clear that God was calling him to spread the Gospel in Taiwan. “I’ve been afraid and worried, but Bill’s message gave me the strength and determination I need.”

A Glimpse of the GLS in Mexico


Voices from around the world: 

“I have received inspiring words as a lady from a country in war for so many years, and a town that is labeled ‘the capital of rape’, Bukavu. I believe that I am a leader. With the spirit of excellence that has been planted in my heart during the GLS, I will impact and bring change to my country, Congo. I am waiting for a day when women will be gathered for a GLS in the most rural place in Africa.” – GLS attendee, Congo

“The GLS will change the way I live for the rest of my life.” – First time GLS attendee, Bangalore, India

“The GLS is a brilliant concept. I would suggest that our political leaders and public ser­vants experience this. It would be great to integrate the concept into our education cur­riculum so that we start developing and empowering leadership skills at a young age. We are all leaders in some way. This will allow children to discover their purpose early and hone their skills. I believe we have the power to instill good character in our youth.” – GLS attendee, Kenya

Let us always remember that even in the darkest of days, our efforts in the house of the Lord shall never be in vain. Let us rededicate our lives to establishing His glorious church. Death would not be too high a price to pay, because we believe that all is temporary with no exception but one – the eternal nature of the church!” – GLS attendee, Taiwan

Please continue to pray for our friends in Los Angeles (Chinese site), Haiti and Mexico as they hold their GLS events this month.

Do The Right Things vs. The Nice Things

Post by Mark Miller

If you’re a regular visitor to this site, you can easily discern a pattern over last few posts. I’m thinking about next year. It happens every year during the fourth quarter – I want to figure out how to have more impact in the upcoming year. I believe every leader should struggle with the same issue.

Mi 2 Doors

My assistant shares my passion for continuous improvement. Recently, Teneya shared an idea that challenged me in a profound way – she has a habit of doing that.

While talking about how both of us could make a bigger impact in 2014, she said, “We’re going to have to decide to do the right things vs. the nice things.”

I’m still processing the implications of this idea. However, I know she’s right. How often do we find ourselves trading the right thing for the nice thing? For me, I’m afraid it happens far too often.

What does this look like in your world? Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things and which ones are the right things. I’m betting you’ll know the difference.

Nice Thing or Right Thing?

Set a new strategic direction or stay the course to avoid challenging anyone?

Attend a portion of an all-day meeting or stay all day so as not to offend the host of the meeting?

Challenge a team member who fails to prepare for a meeting or avoid the issue?

Decline a speaking engagement or accept every request regardless of the audience?

Dismiss an employee who can’t grow with the business or keep the person on the payroll indefinitely?

Eliminate a program to reallocate needed resources or sacrifice new ideas so outdated ones can be funded?

Have a difficult performance conversation or continue to give inflated performance ratings?

Say “no” to non-strategic work or say “yes” to non-strategic work?

Confront problems and issues or avoid discussing problems at all costs?

Give stretch assignments to people and expect them to struggle or avoid giving stretch assignments because they may create some discomfort?

Cut your losses when a product or program has failed or continue to let a project flounder to avoid confronting the project leader?

Pursue truth through conflict or avoid conflict because it makes some people uncomfortable?

As I’ve begun to talk about this issue with people, the immediate question is, “How can you tell the difference between the Right Thing and the Nice Thing?” That’s a fair question. Clearly, it’s not always as obvious as the examples above. I’ll share some additional thoughts on how we might discern the difference next week. But here’s my experience – my challenge is not knowing the difference. My challenge is finding the courage to act on what I know.

Business leader (Chick-fil-A corporate staff), author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. Called to encourage and equip leaders around the world. Check out his blog greatleadersserve.org

Leadership Defines Destinies

Special Prayer Request:
Due to the unrest in Kiev, Ukraine this last weekend, the government will use the GLS venue for a meeting on Thursday. This will limit the set up and rehearsal time for the team, and currently the building is under high security. We have over 700 guests registered. Please pray that the government will not close down the GLS. “It really feels like it’s from God that the GLS is scheduled during a revolution in Ukraine. Leadership matters, especially in times like these. The GLS is not just about lectures and discussion, leadership defines the destinies of our families, ministries, companies, churches, and even our countries.” -GLS Producer, Ukraine


Stories of Impact:

The GLS in Lusaka, Zambia touched leaders from different walks of life. Hearts were pierced by the words of the speakers: “Don’t die with a hidden vision”, “Step out in faith”, “Care for your troops”, and “Pick up the towel and serve”. Concluded by the reading of 1 Cor. 15:58 from Andy Stanley, a sense of brokenness, humility, and hope filled the room. “Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”  

The GLS in Jaffna, Sri Lanka had 275 pre-registrations and by the time of the event 400 people showed up Leaders attended hungry for this kind of training, traveling under difficult conditions—some traveling from an underdeveloped war zone.  Impact is expanding on this small island as the GLS keeps growing.

350 leaders attended the GLS in Haiti this year. Despite technical obstacles, people still experienced God moving in their hearts. Local speaker, Daniel Rouzier, received a standing ovation for his talk, The “Love” Qualities of a Servant Leader. He addressed topical issues of the Haitian people, including faith in business and race relations—as well as the causes of failure in brilliant minds. Leaders left challenged and empowered to bring new energy to their ministries by working together.

Celebrating the 7th year of the GLS in Indonesia, 560 leaders came eager to grow and be challenged. As a result  of the offering taken at the event, the GLS team was able to gift 100 Team Edition DVDs to under-resourced pastors in need of training. Leaders left with a unified vision to reach their country for Christ where Christians are the minority in a predominately Muslim nation.

The GLS in Lithuania has more than doubled in the past 4 years. Beginning with 300 guests in one location, the GLS is now reaching over 800 attendees at two sites. It is the largest annual leadership event in Lithuania and is attended by leaders in government, business, social organizations and leaders from most church denominations. Because of the evident impact of the GLS, Lithuania launched a monthly leadership club where 266 people are already involved. The church is being revived, encouraged and united.

100 leaders attended the first GLS in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Colin Powell’s session was particularly powerful in this tribal culture as he addressed issues of racism. Leaders learned that in order for Zimbabwe to be great, it is necessary to work with the most capable people regardless of tribe, color, or creed. Many attendees committed to bring the GLS to other leaders in 2014 recognizing the importance to mobilize more people to experience this kind of training.

It was the best year yet for the GLS in Lilongwe, Malawi. For the first time ever, the GLS was able to  get free airtime on national television as well as the Transworld Radio program, “Lead Where You Are.”  With the high demand for this GLS, the event was moved to a larger venue to accommodate the growing number of attendees. Over 200+ guests engaged with the training and learned to address the needs of their churches and communities.

View more pictures and stories at www.willowcreek.com/followthegls

I prayed to the Lord and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened; he saved me from all my troubles. -Psalm 34:4-6

Please continue to pray for Liberia, Jordan, Brazil, Korea, Belarus, Guatemala, Macedonia, North America, Romania, Taiwan, Ukraine, and Mexico. These countries are holding GLS events this week.


Bringing Leaders Together

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Impact of the GLS on Alexandre Terra; Military Police official

Vice President of International, Scott Cochrane, interviewed and attendee of the GLS in Sao Paolo, Brazil. The impact of the GLS on his life could transform the whole city. Read Alexandre’s story:

“I’ve been following the GLS for several years, but never attended. This year I felt I had to attend to hear a specific word. It was fantastic. I am leaving with a lot of hope and clarity for what God wants to do through me for the city of Sao Paolo. Sao Paolo is like a country; it has 12 million people. There are a lot of churches. There are a lot of Christians. What worries me is lack of unity among the churches. The GLS has been contributing towards the unity of church here, but I believe it can still do a lot more. First of all, its important that leaders know each other. And more specifically, it’s important that leaders come together by segments; as policemen, as teachers, those who work in government and so on. If we want to be the hope for these areas in our society we need to help each of these segments.

The way the GLS can help is by stimulating leaders within each of these segments. It can draw these leaders together and help their networks grow in their understanding of what they need to do to bring change. And not only just get to know each other, but the GLS can really help us to build networks of those who want to make a real difference. We need to think and process together; we must be united to build a strategy to bring change. I believe the GLS can help us do that. Many of our leaders make strategies that are only inward focused, just looking at the needs of his or her own organization, and not focusing on the larger community where they serve.

My hope is that the GLS will bring these leaders together stimulating them to see a larger vision for the community around them. Together we can share talents, resources and visions.

Now I am going to apply this to our policemen in Soa Paulo. Here the military police oversee 645 areas with 45,000 total officers. So with the GLS I want to bring together a network of these police officers and develop them into agents who can transform their communities. I’ve had this dream for many years, but now with the GLS we can move forward with this and unleash these leaders to make a difference in their communities. I know the Summit can accelerate this. It will enable us to network these people together and mobilize them.” –Alexandre Terra

The GLS in Pakistan

We are grateful for the success of the GLS in Pakistan and God’s protection and peace over it. 310 pastors and leaders from different denominations and backgrounds attended this year. The teaching from each session impacted leaders in a mighty way. They experienced many God moments that encouraged and inspired them as they lead in the reality of oppression and persecution. 18 volunteers came together from eight different churches to help make the GLS happen. Praise God for the opportunity to hold the GLS in Pakistan…what a gift it is for Christian leaders here.

View more pictures and stories at www.willowcreek.com/followthegls

Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. -Psalms 95:1-2

Continue to Pray…

  • Please continue to pray for our friends in Korea, Haiti, Kazakhstan, Sri Lanka, India, Brazil, Belgium, Bolivia, Guatemala, Malawi, Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, Russia, and Venezuela
  • Please pray for our partner in the Philippines, as they carry on their relief and re-building plans after the Typhoon. Pray for their wisdom and strength, as well as the medical and relief teams.
  • Pray for our GLS in Latvia. Last week, the roof of the shopping mall in Riga collapsed, and 32 people are dead. Country leader and facilitator, Peteris, asked that we lift their team up in prayer for wisdom so they can facilitate the GLS in the middle of this tragedy, and comfort those suffering loss.

Leaders Who Launch Well.

Post from Engage International

Starting something new can be scary, even daunting at times—but with the right team it can also be one of the most exhilarating and rewarding experiences of your leadership career.

Unfortunately, chances are that at some point you’ve been part of a launch that went horribly, horribly wrong. The right people weren’t consulted. The team didn’t understand the change. And, a few bridges were burned in the process.

So, what’s the secret to launching well?

As a team that helps churches launch technology initiatives that support discipleship, we’ve observed that the secret to a well-done launch isn’t always in your vision, cash flow, or leadership charisma. Those things help, but at the end of the day, the key is the work of the team that surrounds the idea and gives it life.

It’s simple—leaders who launch new things well build teams that launch new things well.

The life-givers to your cause need a vision to anchor around. They also need an introduction to the new idea, a sense of who is responsible and how “success” will be gauged. The team might also need some training to support your new objectives, as well as implementation plans with actual dates.

Don’t lose these essential, practical elements within your launch, but don’t neglect intangible qualities that surround this framework. Like skin on bones, certain team qualities can create protection and a seamless unity to the work at hand. They are really what make your ministry or organization launch a new initiative well.

1. Identify A Strategic Player.  The teams that gain the most traction have someone who thinks strategically, and can help the team consider a variety of ways to adopt the new initiative (or tool) into their overall strategy. This person may play a variety of roles within an organization, and may not even be leading the initiative. Their strategic input is key and will serve the team well.

2. Bring Unity Of Vision.  The teams who come out of training with the most clear vision, next steps and energy are the ones who involve leaders from every area of the church or organization. The leader offers clear overall direction, but gives space for each manager and team to imagine how the new initiative can be helpful for their area of responsibility. Instead of one more thing for that manager to support, it becomes a support to help that leader accomplish his or her goals.

3. Be Learners.  Teams who adapt well are open to new ideas, and love to learn. They are not only willing to learn from others, but also seek out new information.

4. Know Your Environment.  While learning from others is valuable, a new initiative is someone else’s idea, until you make it your own. Agile teams are eager to learn, but equally eager to re-shape the idea to fit their environment. This adaptation is key to a successful initiative.

5. Create Ownership.  A successful team is able to identify what needs to happen between now and launch, clearly identify who is responsible, and put a goal date with the key action step. This also enables the team to celebrate small progress along the way and keep all parts moving simultaneously.

6. Take The Long View.  While taking those early incremental steps, the most successful teams are able to see down the road. This may not come naturally for all teams, but the ones who succeed are disciplined to ask the question…What will happen in six months, a year or three years? How will we need to adjust? Seeing the long-term vision through is also essential to building trust as a team. If not, you run the risk of vision whiplash, or fatigue, when all the consecutive “visions” are moving so quickly that no one actually has a chance to see them fully implemented. The most successful teams balance this tension of the here and now with hopes for the future.

As you head into 2014, what new initiatives are you considering?

Which of these six ideas could you take action on right now, in order to create a healthy, thriving environment once it’s time to launch?

Engage International is a team of church leaders, problem solvers, researchers, programmers, web developers, and communicators who love the church and care deeply about spiritual transformation. They recently left their bright orange offices in South Barrington, IL to travel to places like Colorado, Indiana, Texas, New York City, and Toronto to work alongside thriving local churches as they launch new spiritual growth tools that help their people deepen their relationships with Jesus.

Fiercely Curious

Post by Tommy Bowman

Is more work coming out of you than inspiration is going in? Todd Henry, in his book Die Empty, calls this Creative Inversion.

For most of us, it’s difficult to slow down the work flow that is coming out of us. We work hard and we enjoy working hard. On top of that, stopping to be inspired can feel like you aren’t getting anything done.

What if the quantity of your work slightly decreased so that the quality of your work greatly increased? 

For this to be true of us we must become fiercely curious. Here’s how:

1. Keep a list of questions.

  • These should be big “What if?” questions.
  • I keep a list of questions to the left of my desk. I write them down on a Post-It note and slap them onto a board categorized from High Priority to Back Burner.
  • Most of the important projects that I accomplish start with these questions.

2. Dedicate time to pursue these questions.

  • Blocking time to ask important questions needs to be a priority enough to be in your calendar.

3. Prototype Relentlessly

  • Simply put, this means to try it out.
  • Begin to answer your questions through experimental action.
  • This where the answers to your questions pick up momentum.

4. Find your “bliss station”

  • This is your uninterrupted space where creativity happens.
  • We all can have these. We need to seek them out and keep them sacred.
  • Mine is in my car. When I remove myself from my work I can look forward to the questions I should be asking.

What would it look like if you did a little bit less of staying on task?

What would it look like if you did a little bit more of daydreaming?

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.