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.

The GLS – From Here to There

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Celebrate the impact of the GLS, answered prayers, and stories from around the world!

Ivory Coast:

More than 600 leaders attended the GLS in the Ivory Coast this year. Only 10% of the country practices Christianity. The leaders came hungry to experience this kind of training. The first day kicked off with Bill Hybels’ session “Here to There,” which focused the group on the needs of the country and a new reality. The impact of the GLS in this country is amazing to see. One pastor who oversees 200 churches, is taking what he learned to all the pastors under his leadership. Many pastors were moved to better lead their congregations to listen to the voice of God while living and being the church in a dangerous environment. The audience raised enough money to sponsor 100 leaders in 2014, and many people committed to sponsoring more because they were so moved to bring this training to more leaders in their country.


460 leaders from different churches and sectors of society attended the GLS in Thailand this year. The audience was moved and encouraged by each other and God’s presence in the room. Each session was appropriate for the season and the culture. During one session, people were led to rededicate their lives to God and his call on them. More than 80% of the audience responded with tears and conviction. Leaders left the conference blessed and inspired with a desire to open up another site next year. We have truly seen God’s blessing on the churches in Thailand through the GLS.


There was a full house at the GLS in Nairobi, Kenya this week with 2,300 leaders in attendance. Many leaders attended from different sectors of society; church, business and government. An exciting result of the event was when a senior government official called afterwards to say he was using Liz Wiseman’s teaching in his office and is already implementing his learnings.



More than 630 leaders attended the GLS in Taipei, Taiwan this year. There was great energy in the room from a diverse group of people. Notebooks were filled up and impact is evident. We are so grateful to provide this training resource to leaders in Taiwan.




410 church, business and organization leaders gathered in Denmark for the GLS this year. The feedback was positive: “The GLS reconnects me to my vision. Through Bill Hybels’ teaching, you recollect your visions and start to believe that it can be accomplished.” The GLS was so well received that next year they plan to have two sites, doubling the impact. The team in Denmark trusts that God is going to bless this step out in faith.


Over 700 Korean speaking Christian leaders attended a GLS site in Beijing, China last week. In spite of some government restrictions and a limited facility, God worked in their hearts. The GLS inspired and encouraged them to live out their calling in the face of opposition–an atheistic culture opposed to Christianity.



A glimpse at the GLS in Brownsville, TX (Spanish site), Dominican Republic, Mexico, Korea, Estonia, Portugal, Denmark, and Singapore




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

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.

-Colossians 1:9

GLS events happening the week of November 18th: 

Namibia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Haiti, Brazil, New Zealand, Argentine, Bolivia, Belgium, France, Guatemala, Kenya, Korea, Kosovo, Latvia, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, Netherlands, Nigeria, North America, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Taiwan, Tanzania, UK/Ireland and Venezuela

Prayer Requests: 

  • Please continue to pray for God’s provision on our partners in the Philippines. They have been gravely affected by the storm, and are helping the government to  feed and care for 1.2 million people, including orphans and widows.
  • The GLS in Kazakhstan is brought to Christian leaders that live in the reality of oppression. Though the government has allowed freedom of religion since 2002, there is Islamist agitation toward the Christian church, and it is not the cultural norm to be a follower of Christ. Pray for Christian leaders to be encouraged and inspired as they live out their faith as a beautiful example of Christ’s love in their country.
  • Christians are the extreme minority in Pakistan, and they live in the reality that proclaiming Christ could cost them their lives. Persecution is high. Pray that Christian leaders attending the GLS would be encouraged in knowing they are a part of a large global community that is lifting them up in prayer.
  • The GLS in Haiti is brought to leaders that have seen years of economic and political distress due to poor, corrupt and ever changing governmental leadership. Poverty is also extremely high. There is dire need for leadership development in order to transform the country. Pray for leaders who gather at the GLS, that they would be strengthened, equipped, and encouraged.
  • Due to violent conflict with Serbia, Kosovo has experienced a shrinking economy with the highest unemployment rate in the world at 73%. Leadership development in this context is much needed, as Christian leaders seek hope and encouragement to rebuild the broken infrastructure of their country. Pray for leaders attending the GLS.

Follow the GLS – Journey to Estonia

Post by Rena Kosiek

WCA has given me the opportunity to attend a GLS. So today, I’ve packed my bags and I am heading to Estonia. Join me in this journey to learn more about the GLS and what God is doing around the world.

I will be posting updates on our blog, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Use #followthegls if you have any questions along the way. I am really looking forward to sharing this journey with you and seeing what God will do!

Rena lives near Chicago and works as the Online Marketing and Communications Manager for Willow Creek Association. She is a seeker of experience, creatively inspired, and a perspective guru. Follow her on Twitter: @RenaKosiek


Follow the GLS: Philippines

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Many of you have been praying for leaders around the world who are experiencing the GLS. Last week the GLS was scheduled to take place in the Philippines. After much prayer and preparation the team decided to move forward with the GLS despite the storm, Super Typhoon Haiyan.

All the volunteers were on their knees before God, and assured by the words of Jesus “…He rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Silence! Be still!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” The first hours of the event had no great weather disturbance. The normal busy streets of Manila were empty. We were not aware of what was happening in the south of us where the Typhoon first hit land. We had 100 pre-registrations, but by the time the event began 800 leaders showed up! The opening was powerful and it felt as though not one person had any other thought but Jesus. God moved through each session.  Despite the storm, leaders still gathered in God’s name.

A glimpse of the GLS countries around the world:

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

GLS events happening the week of November 11th

Ghana, Kazakhstan, Nigeria, Korea, Thailand, Albania, Argentina, Burkina Faso, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Ecuador, Estonia, Guatemala, Ivory Coast, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Malawi, Mexico, North America, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sierra Leone, Sweden, Venezuela

Highlighted country prayer requests

  • Christian leaders in Thailand are very few in a country where the predominant religion is Buddhism. The GLS offers training and resources to these leaders hungry for this kind of encouragement. Pray that these leaders would have access to more biblical training as they seek to reach out into their communities for Christ.
  • The name “Burkina Faso” means “The country of honorable people”. Pray for the GLS and that leaders would be challenged to rise up to serve and lead the country with integrity in the face of opposition.
  • Under Communism, all of religion was suppressed in Kazakhstan. Since 2002 the constitution allows for freedom of religion, but requires churches and religious organizations to register with the government. In this context, Islamist agitation towards the Christian church has caused the government to consider increasing oppressive laws towards Christian churches. Pray for leaders who lead churches in this reality, where it is against the cultural norm to practice Christianity. Pray for the identity of Christians in Kazakhstan, and they would be beautiful witness of Christ’s love in this cultural reality they face.
  • China is officially an atheist state, where only 3-4% of the population is Christian. Pray for the emerging underground church in China, and that leaders would be encouraged as they go against the grain of their culture.

God’s Provision for the GLS

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We celebrate this first time site in Mongolia! What a beautiful people.  We had the best first time GLS start ever for an underdeveloped country. In spite of unusual trials, no rehearsals, failing equipment, late arrivals and the like, you wouldn’t have known it based on how the first day went. The worship was excellent, video was great, and facilitation went really well. We worked with the tough sound system, but overall, we are grateful that everything worked out! The content of the teaching was very relevant for the cul­ture, and the audience was so hungry to hear it, especially since the message of Christ really only arrived in Mongolia 20 years ago. Take a look at the brief video clip of the worship experience to get a better understanding of the feeling in the room. God surely moved through the GLS in Mongolia. See video of the worship in Mongolia HERE.

We celebrate God’s provision on the first year GLS site in Rwanda! 
It was a whirlwind preparation leading right up to the last five minutes of the event. They were missing the equipment needed to run everything; a near crisis, as they were expecting 356 guests the next day! In the middle of the night before the first day of the event, the youth pastor of the church noticed that there was a cabinet sitting in the foyer. After looking inside and alerting the producer, they opened it and found all the equipment that they were missing! The church originally didn’t know what any of these pieces of equipment were when a church from the US had sent the cabinet 5 years ago! Imagine, God pro­vided for the GLS event in Rwanda years ago! What a blessing. And God definitely moved through the leaders in Rwanda. We are grateful for the opportunity to pro­vide this training and resources.

The GLS in Accra, Ghana was a suc­cess.We had leaders gathered from all over and from different backgrounds in­cluding leaders from churches, the su­preme court, and universities. 1,303 guests showed up to our site at National Theater. We are grateful for God’s provi­sion for the GLS and the movement in leaders who strive to live with integrity.

At the GLS in an unnamed country last week, a lady who took a five-hour bus trip reached the conference in a heavy mood. She was going to resign because of the overwhelming responsibility for her church and her family. She was tired and felt mis­understood by the others. She could not bear her burden any longer. The key to her problem was emerging during the sessions. During the GLS, she realized that she was in “the land between” where she found herself desperate and com­plaining about everything. Her life was like a desert. She said: “God knows what I need before I do. The message from Bill Hybels and Jeff Manion has shown me that God prepares bread for you when you just wish to die. This is food for my soul. I feel like I am recharged and re­freshed. So I bought the DVD to listen to it again….”

The GLS was held in Jamaica for the first time!

Here is a glimpse at the GLS in Japan, Nigeria, Iceland, Australia, Czech Republic, and Brazil

View more pictures and stories at willowcreek.com/followthegls

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. -Colossians 3:16-17 

GLS Events Happening This Week:

Ghana, Japan, Malaysia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Korea, Albania, Kenya, Uganda, Brazil, Sweden, Argentina, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Chile, China, Croatia, Slovenia,  Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Finland, Guatemala, Honduras, Norway, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Sierra Leone, Taiwan, UK/Ireland, Venezuela, and Zambia

Highlighted Country Prayer Requests

  • Pray for the different sectors of leadership Kenya. The local organizing committee for the GLS in Kenya is praying to reach and impact leaders from all sectors of society – church, government, education, and the marketplace. They desire to encourage and raise up leaders of integrity and wisdom. The GLS event is being held November 7-8
  • Leaders in Uganda are gathering at the GLS around a theme of “Creating the Uganda We Want”. Pray for leaders who go against the grain with integrity in a culture that is full of corruption and violence. The GLS event is being held November 7-8.
  • Leaders in Sierra Leone face great burdens – Many people live on less than $1 a day, and 70% of the country lives below the poverty line. In this uniquely diverse country, leaders are seeking transformation in all sectors of society. Pray for these courageous leaders. The GLS event is being held November 8-9.
  • Christianity has a very low influence in Taiwan where 93% of the country has mixed beliefs in Buddhism and Taoism. Christian leaders seek training, wisdom and encouragement to lead in a culture that worships many gods and ancestors, and prioritizes materialism. The GLS event is being held November 8-9.

The Honor of Inclusion

Re-post by Jenni Catron

“Pick me.”

“Tell me your secret.”

“Share your story.”

My childhood memories are filled with longings for inclusion.

Don’t leave me on the sidelines.  Let me be in your circle.

Those longings intensified with those I loved or respected.  If you were a kindred spirit, the longing to be a part of your world only deepened.  If you were someone I respected, to be included made me feel esteemed.

One of our greatest human longings is the desire to belong.

As leaders, we have the opportunity to give others the gift of inclusion.  When we invite them into our world to learn to grow or to simply be a part, we give them the gift of belonging.  We esteem them as honored.  We counteract the doubts and insecurities that plague them in the quiet.  We give them hope.  We affirm their significance.

It’s a simple gift to give and yet we so easily withhold.

I challenge you to confront whatever keeps you from giving the gift of inclusion.  Is it busyness?  Is it fear?  Is it insecurity?  Is it a scarcity mentality?

Whatever it is that holds you back, confront it and honor someone today with the gift of inclusion.

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.