The Global Leadership Summit: Serving Leaders World Wide

What started in 1992 as a small gathering of Christian leaders in pursuit of sharing their knowledge has become more than just a conference; the Global Leadership Summit is becoming a movement of Christ-centered leadership that is transforming brokenness and fostering empowerment on an international scale.

The U.S. conference, held in August, is just one of many conference locations. The GLS has gained international recognition and has expanded to include over 425 sites in 108 countries around the world.

And it doesn’t stop there.

The GLS continues to expand, providing a platform for leaders all over the world to gain training and insight on Christ-centered leadership and to learn from world class leaders and influencers. This training inspires, encourages, and provides actionable leadership skills – it has enabled leaders to use their influence to affect change in their communities, addressing issues like poverty, education deficiencies, and corruption in the government.

“You have probably heard Bill say, when a leader gets better, everyone wins. On a global basis, we are beginning to see men and women of faith leading more effectively and living out their faith in their spheres of influence. They are beginning to enact change at many levels of society, impacting the lives of many.” Aliece Hendricks, Vice President of International Conferences, said.

One of the most exciting opportunities has been the expansion of the GLS into two dynamic and challenging new locations: Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The ongoing regional conflict has presented a barrier to the GLS, but the Lord has answered prayers and blessed five years of work. Bill Hybels and Robert Morris from Gateway Church in Dallas are among a group of leaders who have traveled to the Middle East to host two GLS events.

The first will be held in Jerusalem this week, on October 29-30, and presented in Hebrew. Then, the conference will travel to Bethlehem on October 30-31, where similar content will be shared in Arabic. These ground-breaking conferences will include live presentations and leadership speakers via video from around the world.

“We want to stand with these brothers and sisters in Christ who lead in such complex situations,” Hendricks said. “Our desire and hope is that this is the beginning of being able to bring leadership training to this area of the world annually.”

The global reach of the GLS is ever-increasing, and the movement of Christ-centered leadership is powerful and contagious: follow the work of the GLS here and learn more about how the GLS is inspiring leaders to change the world for Christ – one country, one city, and one person at a time. Click Here.

Be the Salt. Be the Light.
Compassion and Justice Ministry Rally 2014.

Join our Compassion and Justice Team in welcoming Pastor Wilfredo de Jesus to our Wednesday Midweek service at 7:30 p.m. on October 22nd.

Pastor Wilfredo, also known as Pastor Choco, was one of the favorite speakers at this year’s Global Leadership Summit. He is the Senior Pastor of New Life Covenant Church, an inner city Chicago church, whose mission is finding hurting, overlooked people and transforming lives one broken person at a time. Pastor Choco was listed in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year 2013, and has authored several books promoting compassion and the work of caring for the poor. “I can’t wait to have Pastor Choco back at Willow after his unforgettable and inspiring message at the Global Leadership Summit in August,” says Interim Global Director, Mark Haugen.

Pastor Choco will share an inspiring vision on how to cultivate a lifestyle of serving the poor, vulnerable and oppressed both locally and globally in his message entitled, “Salt and Light.” He believes that we can all make a difference in the world by sharing the love of Christ with those who desperately need just a flicker of hope through the touch of a helping hand. As Pastor Choco says, “The only resource you need to create change is a deep compassion for hurting people. If you have that, you can make a difference.”

There will be a Compassion and Justice ministry fair immediately following Pastor Choco’s message in the lobby outside the Lakeside Auditorium. We will highlight our diverse Compassion and Justice Ministry opportunities so you can easily find a place where you can fully realize your gifts and skills to touch another life and share the love of Christ. So, if you are looking for a place to live out your desire to serve those in need, join us Wednesday night for Midweek.

Thanking God for 39 Years of Great Things Happening at Willow

Come join us this weekend as we celebrate all God has done through Willow over the past 39 years!

There are so many great stories that happen within the ministries at Willow. And, one of the best ways to celebrate Willow’s 39th anniversary is to tell the stories of how God works every day in the lives of people in our church. Here are just a few personal stories of lives being transformed by God through the ministries of Willow Creek.

Section Communities – Grandpa’s Life Changed

Ted* had a terribly distorted view of the church based on his life growing up with an alcoholic, abusive father, who would put on a show every Sunday for church and then physically abuse his family after they returned home. Needless to say, Ted, now well into his sixties, avoided church his whole life. His grandson, who attends Willow, was being baptized and Ted reluctantly came. The section where the family member sat welcomed, supported, and loved him – and now Ted attends Willow every week. Ted attends workshops and even wants to become a member. What do we learn about God from the Sections Ministry? That God cares deeply for us and is faithful in tangible ways through the church and through community in Sections.

Alpha – Addicted Pro Athlete Comes to Faith

A golf professional found his way into a crack-cocaine addiction and eventually became entrenched in that world. His life was coming to an end and collapsing all around him. This pro golfer started Alpha on the suggestion of some friends, found Christ and the Holy Spirit! He even got baptized this year. And now, he leads his own Alpha group, and his family is attending Alpha as well. What do we learn about God through the Alpha Ministry? God makes a way for us to find Him, and then He gives His Holy Spirit to live within us. God doesn’t ever leave us.

Elevate – Middle-Schooler Finds Acceptance

This past weekend, a new seventh grade girl came to Elevate. After the program, the system that helps place new people into small groups put her in a small group. The girl lived about thirty minutes from Willow – which decreased the odds that she would know a single person from her school in the small group. In middle school, this is a big deal. The girl was nervous about walking into a room full of strangers as the volunteer walked her to the place where her small group was meeting. When they opened the door a seventh grader in the group said loudly, “HEY! You go to my school! I know we’ve never met, but you’ve GOTTA get in here!” In middle school, that’s a fantastic (and relieving) welcome to get. What can we learn about God with this story from Elevate? God gives unexpected surprises and good gifts even when we don’t ask for them.

Student Impact – Student Comes to Faith – Becomes Youth Pastor

Mike* visited Impact last year. He wasn’t a Christian and only promised his friend he would check it out. He came once, then again, and again, and pretty soon six months had gone by. Then one time, his heart was so stirred, he gave his life to Christ. This was just a few short months before he headed off to college. Once in college, he realized that God so hijacked his heart he decided to change his major and go into ministry to bring others to Christ. Currently, Mike is serving as a youth pastor in a small church and continues to be on fire for God. It is an incredible thought that just a year ago he didn’t even know Jesus. And now Mike is impacting the world for Christ. What can we learn about God from Student Impact? That God transforms us and has a plan for our lives that is bigger than we can imagine.

Care Center – Former Inmate Finds a Job

“God really showed up at the Job Fair last week,” says ministry leader Josie Guth. Forty-one employers participated and at least 180 job-seekers came. The number of conversations that happened between employers and job-seekers in the atrium of our church was 825, with potential placements of 238! Another leader reported, “I saw four people I knew from the Prison & Jail Ministry—two were hired on the spot. One of the job-seekers that was hired is on probation and must wear an ankle bracelet. After being hired, he was so moved because he didn’t think it was possible to get a job after what he had been through. We were both practically crying! The other two from the Prison & Jail Ministry were scheduled for interviews.” What do we learn about God through the Job Fair hosted by the Care Center? That God redeems any situation – regardless of how the situation happened, He is faithful and able to redeem it.

Pastoral Response – Recover – Life Restored after Abuse

His parents divorced when he was two years old, and he was raised in a home of generational alcohol abuse in a family environment of raised voices, threats, and fear. He grew up wondering if he was loved and if he belonged. He tried harder and harder to be noticed. He excelled in sports and in social settings to get attention. But despite his outer “success,” his inside world was rocked and his innocence lost. This created a whole set of unhealthy relational patterns around performance, people pleasing, and insecurity. That person is me, a Christ follower, a pastor for over 25 years, a family man. And what I have in common with those that come to Recover is that we all have found healing through Willow’s Recover program, which I have the privilege of leading. What do we learn about God from the Recover Ministry? That our God crushes shame, understands our pain, invites us to a better future, and heals our hurts.

Be sure to come to the 39th anniversary services THIS weekend to celebrate these and thousands of other stories showcasing God’s work through the ministries of Willow Creek. Also, plan on staying a few extra minutes after the service as the sections have “Quick Connects” to celebrate!

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
—Ephesians 3:19-21

*Name has been changed to protect identity.

The God I Wish You Knew Update

We are heading into week 5 of The God I Wish You Knew series and we are still going strong. “People’s perspectives of God are crucial to how they live and orient their lives. We are seeing that when people have misconceptions about God, it drastically affects their life.” says Teaching Pastor Steve Carter.

Many people we know think things like, “God doesn’t care about my problems,” “God can’t forgive my sins,” or “God doesn’t really love me.” Our God, however, does care – He loves us, forgives us, and understands us. He wants us to understand Him, too, and to put our trust in Him.

The series aims to “open and stir” our hearts to believe that knowing who our God truly is will deepen and enhance our relationship with Him. By looking to the Bible, we can find a true, whole representation of who Christ is. The more we know about God, the more comfortable we are to trust, follow, and share Him. If this series is stirring in your heart, this is a perfect time to invite friends who could be impacted by the message.

Sharing Our Knowledge of Christ

“One of the ways that we communicate, for better or for worse, who God is, is through us – how we orient our lives and what we are for,” said Carter. “There are many people who don’t want anything to do with God because of how we as Christ-followers have advocated for Him. Our views of God matter because they drive how we live, share, and represent God to the rest of the world.”

A God Who Delights in His Creation

Who is the God Steve Carter wishes others knew? A God that delights in His creation, a truth made evident to Carter through the birth of his 15-month old daughter.

“The word delight means to ‘behold and to see with favor.’ I think for many people, God is distant, far, and doesn’t care, but I wish people could see a God that beholds them like a father beholds a newborn. My eyes have been really opened to that . . . Peoples’ lives would be massively different if they knew that God delighted and beheld them as kids. There would be a security and groundedness that could be quite profound.”

Join us as we continue to learn more about who God truly is through The God I Wish You Knew. And be sure to come to the special 39th anniversary weekend service on October 18/19.

The Most Important Thing on Your To-Do List

Daily, we check off items from our never-ending to do list: pay the bills, wash the car, clean the house, complete the project, go to the doctor. Seldom on our to-do list, however, is caring for the most important part of us: our soul.

Willow’s new six-week small-group series, John Ortberg’s Soul Keeping, aims to do just that: foster intentional support systems to keep and care for our souls by centering them on Christ. Groups will begin meeting the week of October 12.

“There is something so powerful about people gathering together,” said Bryan Jones, a member of the Leadership Team and the person helping to coordinate this campaign. “The small group campaign is an intentional way, for six weeks, for people to live the way that Jesus intended us to live: in community, sharing our lives together, sharing stories, laughing and journeying through things together.”

Interested in joining, but unable to find a small group? Join the larger “Soul Keeping” group led by several hosts that will meet every Wednesday in the atrium, parallel to Midweek. This group will go through the same content as individual small groups, but will be open to new participants throughout the series, so it’s never too late to join. Jones said he hopes the groups will be a chance for people to re-adjust their to-do list in order to give a higher priority to caring for their souls.

Hosts are needed to facilitate discussion, schedule group meetings, and administer the ”Soul Keeping” DVD and written content to the group. Hosts form their own small groups out of neighbors, colleagues, friends, family, or anyone who is interested in joining them in exploring the series. This creates a personal and organic community to share and grow with during and after the six-week period.

The small group series will begin on the week of October 12. Information on hosting will be available during the weekend services on October 11/12. Take time to care for your soul and to support one another in diving deeper into what it means to commit your whole being to Christ.