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.

“I Have Been Challenged to Lead”

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The GLS in Cape Town, South Africa blessed leaders from all over the city. Take a look at this video and hear about their desires for Cape Town.

We had the unique opportu­nity to host The South Africa Sign Language Bible
Translators, and Hands With Words at the GLS in South Africa last week.
They plan to take all they learned and apply it in their Deaf Churches. “It speaks volumes to the Deaf when they are included in events that have previously been attended only by hearing people. More Deaf have now “heard” about GLS! I think there may be a slightly larger group ready to participate in GLS 2014!”

We’ve heard all good things about the GLS in Goa, India held last week. 230 leaders and 22 vol­unteers attended at this third year site. The audi­ence was so open and responsive to everything they learned. It was sometimes difficult to move on from such lively discussion during the processing times. Each session was well received. One of the atten­dees was a 10 year old boy who came with his fa­ther. After the first day, he said to his father, “There is no way you will keep me away from this tomorrow!” He is pictured standing next to the Joseph Grenny poster — his favourite Speaker. He said he loved the idea of leading people through influence, and had his notebook full of notes from the session.

The GLS in Ndola, Zambia brought in 385 leaders from all over Zambia from different sectors of society including church, marketplace, and government. The farthest traveler was a handicapped young woman who traveled over 434 miles to be there (see photo). One of the highlights was seeing the captain of the Zambian Army introduce General Colin Powell’s session. She made it feel like he was in the room! Every session addressed an issue that the leaders in Zambia are dealing with — Trust, for­giveness, building into the next generation, mentor­ship, being a multiplier rather than a diminisher, and servant leadership. The audience was lead to their knees after Andy Stanley’s session when they real­ized they need to be teaching about Jesus and the cross more. Leaders are being challenged — “I am just a preacher. I have not yet started leading. I have been challenged to lead”. There were also four busi­ness leaders lead to sponsor ten leaders at the event coming up in Lusaka. Overall, it was apparent that God was moving in leaders through GLS in Zambia! Miracles have already started to happen.

To view more pictures, stories, event dates, and prayer requests go to willowcreek.com/followthegls

I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
Isaiah 43:1-3

GLS Events October 27 – November 2

Czech Republic, Brazil, Ghana, New Zealand, Australia, Bolivia, Iceland, Mexico, Mongolia, Nigeria, Norway, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, UK/Ireland, and Venezuela

GLS Prayer Requests

  • Income inequality is one of the biggest issues that faces Brazil and contributes to high levels of crime, especially in urban areas. The GLS brings people together from different backgrounds as they seek to transform their communities. The GLS is being held on October 27-28.
  •  The church in Mongolia is young, and Christians are the minority. The GLS provides Christian leaders access to training and resources to grow the church where the majority of the country practices Buddhism and 40% of the country claims no religion at all. The GLS is being held on November 1-2.
  • The GLS in context in Russia: Soviet rule tried the life of the church, but since the 90’s the church has seen more religious freedom and growth. The GLS encourages Christian leaders as they seek to revive the church and help it thrive. The GLS is being held on November 1-2.

Lead Yourself Well to Lead Others Better

Re-post by Jenni Catron

Something deep inside each of us longs to count. We want to matter to the world. We long to make a difference. We get bored, tired, even depressed by routine and monotony. We’re desperate for significance. We’re searching for acknowledgment. We want to be known.

But to be known begins with knowing ourselves.

God has equipped you and designed you to live out your unique calling and gifting as a leader. Your heart yearns for influence because it is a part of how He created you. It’s God-designed, but it can also be humanly-distorted if we neglect the most important part of leadership – self-leadership.

Self-leadership is defined as “the process” of influencing oneself to establish the self-direction and self-motivation needed to perform.

Leadership begins with yourself. You must lead yourself well to lead others better.

“There is a person with whom you spend more time than any other, a person who has more influence over you, and more ability to interfere with or to support your growth than anyone else. This ever-present companion is your own self. “ Dr. Pamela Butler, Clinical Psychologist

I believe that self-leadership is the foundation for leadership and unfortunately it’s not the flashy part. It’s the tough part. It doesn’t get attention or affirmation. No one is singing your praises for leading yourself well. In fact, here are a few tough truths that we need to understand about self-leadership:

  • No one cares more about your personal development than you do.
  • You can’t wait for someone else to lead you.
  • No one owes you leadership.
  • No one is responsible for your leadership development.

I share these things to challenge you, because if you understand the hard work of self-leadership, and pour yourself into it without expectations of others or an entitled attitude, you will develop the character and core of a remarkable leader.

Parker Palmer reminds us that, “Good leadership comes from people who have penetrated their own inner darkness and arrived at the place where we are at one with one another. People who can lead the rest of us to place of ‘hidden wholeness’ because they have been there and know the way.”

Your God-given influence – your leadership – is a gift to you and others. We need you to thrive so that you can help others thrive. This journey of self-leadership, although painful at times, is part of what equips you to be the leader God has called you to be.

So just how do we do this?

Here are, what I believe, are the core elements of developing self-leadership. These are just listed to get you thinking. You’ll need to unpack them and determine what steps you will need to take to grow in each of these areas.

1. Character

  • Who you are when no one is looking
  • Attention to your spiritual and emotional health
  • Expecting more from you than others do
  • Relentless pursuit of the character qualities you want to be true of you

2. Discipline

  • Be the one to get it done
  • Set goals for yourself in all areas: personal, professional, family, and fun
  • Take initiative
  • “Leaders are readers”; Read ferociously
  • Be a lifelong learner, and be a fanatic about it
  • Surround yourself with mentors and people smarter than you

3. Self-awareness

  • Know your strengths & weaknesses
  • Seek counsel
  • Identify mentors
  • Always evaluate what you need to “own” (good or bad) in every situation

Self-leadership is the hard work behind the scenes that prepares you for great leadership.

How are you doing in the area of self-leadership? What one thing could you start working on today to improve?

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.

The 3M Model with Bill Hybels

A couple weeks ago, Bill Hybels sent a tweet talking about his 3M Model.

@BillHybels: I take a “3M” mindset into meetings: 1 Let’s Move something ahead! 2 Let’s Modify what is not working 3 Motivate everybody as they leave!

We were able to get a few moments with him this week and asked him to talk through this 3M mindset for leaders that he’s never talk about before. Watch this video for a few short take-aways!

How can you apply this in your setting?