a second attempt to report on my experience at Willow Creek's Leadership Summit.
Actually, I had no desire to attend, due to the fact that I am behind at work, and the leadership from our organization would be spending 2.5 days sitting in a local church watching a satellite simulcast of the event. It is odd to try to engage in a worship experience with a leader in Chicago (stranger still was the clapping for speakers at our site- did people forget they could not hear us?).
However, even though I had very little interest to sit through Hybels (whom I always enjoy), Warren (whom I usually tolerate), Maxwell (does nothing for me) or Blanchard, along with many speakers I had never heard of, I gave it a chance (I only wish they had last years interesting speakers, such as Steven Sample and Tim Sanders- 2 authors who greatly motivate me). Much to my surprise, the bait and switch was on.
Thousands of church leaders came to a leadership conference and sat through a Justice conference. What?
Hybels started us off with the idea of holy discontent. What do we see that wrecks us inside? That which wrecks us can lead to our calling and vision. Most of the time, he spoke of AIDS, racism and injustice. MLK was a major character in the talk and he said he as only come to realize lately that Willow Creek should spend its time working for justice.
Next up, Purpose Driven Rick, as endearingly corny as ever. Although he pimped his projects, foundations and books, Rick repented of his lack of concern for Africa, the poor, AIDS victims and the voiceless. He realizes that God gives influence to people so they can speak for those with no influence. It was fascinating to see his new found understanding of the Gospel. I hope it continues and his followers take heed.
By this time I was experiencing what I earlier termed an existential spiritual vertigo. Has the evangelical church, as Jim Wallis predicted, begun to tip to the whole gospel? Why has it taken these great men 30+ years of ministry to figure this out? Why couldn't they have figured it out when I was younger? Maybe I would not have been such an outcast in my own denomination.
Will the masses of ministers, churches and believers listen? What, in fact, are the guys around me thinking? Why must it take popular guys saying the same things I say for people to pay attention (I feel like I was in High School wearing my black Chuck Taylors. No one wore them until the quarterback asked me where I got them. He came to school after Christmas break with a pair and they exploded in our hallways. I started wearing blue.).
Have these guys been reading my journals? What is a contrarian like me to latch onto when the masses line up?
I am so confused and have too many questions. It is also like the day R.E.M. went Top 10.
What blew me away was the fact that the Summit kept it up the whole day. They had a pastor from Africa that deals with poverty and AIDS daily in his church, the leader of the Guardian Angels and an activist that set up an inner city ministry in Detroit.
My brain still hurts.