Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stopping

Early tomorrow morning we set off for our two week family holiday in France. It's been a great year so far in so many ways, but to be honest I can't wait to stop, unwind and spend an extended period of time with Catrina and the children.

So no more blogging, no email on the iPhone and no telephone calls to make or to answer. Just a big pile of books to read and lots of fun to be had. There's so much to look forward to in the Autumn with two preaching series planned, "Just Walk Across the Room" and "Remember", the opening of the FoodBank, the Willow Leadership Conference and more besides, but for the next two weeks all of that can wait.

I hope you too have managed to find some time to 'stop' this summer. I look forward to hearing all about it in September :-)

Simon.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Andrew White

Just a quick reminder that our good friend Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, is going to be with us on the evening of Sunday 23rd August. Drinks will be served from 6pm and the meeting starts at 7pm.

This will be an evening not to be missed. Andrew is in the centre of current world events, but also brings with him an incredible sense of the presence of God. Sadly I'm going to be on holiday that weekend, but look forward to listening to the podcast when I get back.

Simon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Willow Leadership Summit - Day 2

My head feels fit to explode after 7 different speakers today - I'm going to need at least a month to process all this :-)
The day started with a guy called Dave Gibbons, an American pastor with Korean ancestry, challenging us to think more relationally in building churches.
Then a Ugandan entrepeneur called Andrew Rugasira who challenged us to think that the solution to Africa's problems were trade not aid - very thought provoking.
Third was undobtedly the most moving session of the day. Wess Stafford who leads Compassion (the child sponsorship charity) told the story of his childhood. We were all in bits by the end. I can't wait for you all to get to see this session.
Next up was David Gergen, who was a presidential aide to four US presidents including Reagan and Clinton. He had fascinating insights into each of their strengths and weaknesses.
He was followed by two brothers called Chip and Dan Heath. They have written a brilliant book called "Making Ideas Stick" which any aspiring preachers need to read, but spoke here on their new book about managing change, both personally and in organisations - I love this sort of stuff :-). Anyone who likes Malcolm Gladwell will want to get a copy of the book and see this session.
Then a recorded interview with Bono who complained that the church had ruined it for him by actually stepping up and getting truly involved in engaging with the issue of Aids - in his words "I didn't know the sleeping giant could run so fast". It was less challenging than when he spoke 3 years ago, and I'd have liked a bit more Bono in the interview as cut into it were stories of what churches and individuals are doing. Still good though, especially reflecting on the journey we've been on in Zambia.
Finally Tony Blair. Good on leadership and the challenges and privileges of being a leader, although it never felt like he really let his guard down.
So an amazing two days and so much to reflect on. If you can possibly make it to a Global Leadership Summit later this year to see all of this on DVD then please can I implore you to do it. Whether your a leader or not you can't fail to have God speak to you through it all.
Back to Wilow tomorrow to choose which talks we show in the UK then home tomorrow. It's raining here so I feel prepared :-)
Simon.


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Friday, August 7, 2009

Willow Leadership Summit - Day 1

What a privilege to be back at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit.
Bill Hybels kicked of talking about "Leading in a New Reality", reflecting on the new economic circumstances we're all now living in, and how leaders can not only survive but thrive in this environment.
Second up a business guru called Gary Hamel who is also a commited follower of Jesus Christ. He challenged us to think afresh how we do church - very provocative. His whole talk was one liners, my favourite of which were "don't mistake the edge of your rut for the horizon" and "the problem with 'organised religion' is not the religion bit".
Next was Tim Keller, unpacking the true nature of grace through the story of the prodigal son. A message we all need to hear, and one we may do as a series some time next year.
Then Jessica Jackley, the co-founder of a charity called Kiva which runs a website which links people in the third world needing small loans to set up a business (micro financing) with individuals wanting to lend small amounts (upwards of $25) - check out www.kiva.org. In four years over 84 million dollars has been lent through Kiva. Jessica is just inspirational as a young leader following through on a great way of using technology - I pray for God to raise up Kerith Jessicas!
Finally a wake up call from a guy called Harvey Carey who leads a multicultural church in Detroit - we were all on our feet by the time he finished!
So a great day. What I love is that you don't just have to take my word for how good the speakers have been, but in October you can hear them too. Be there!
Tomorrow we have prerecorded interviews with Bono and Tony Blair, as well as a number of live speakers - I can't wait!
Simon.


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