Well the GLS 2011in Chicago is now over, and Catrina and some of the others are out shopping, so I've got a chance to write a few reflections on this years Leadership Summit.
First of it's been a huge privilege to be here again. For me the trip out here is a massive time of being refreshed, hearing from God and receiving faith and vision for the next season of life at Kerith. This years Summit has been one of the best and I sense so much has spoken into where we are going - I can't wait for loads of you to get to see it in October. I never take it for granted the gift that it is to be here, and just hope that I can make it an investment which will be repaid over and over again in the life of the church in the coming year.
Normally at the Summit there will be at least a couple of "not so good" speakers. This year there was an incredible consistency across them all, so much so that when we had the meeting this morning to start to try and decide which ones we show in the UK and which ones we drop we had a really tough time finding anyone to leave out. Yet in there was an incredible variety. From the mayor of Newark to Egypt's equivalent of Mother Theresa, very few names I'd ever heard of before but across the board messages which spoke so clearly and powerfully. I'm not going to give the game away as to any of their content, you'll have to wait until October for that. But there were two themes stuck out for me. First of all humility, the call to live your life for others, regardless of the personal cost or sacrifice. And then a call to action, to get on and at do something to try and make a difference in the world we live in.
It's also inspiring just to be around Willow. To sit in their 7,000 seat auditorium, to see thousands and thousands of people gathering to be better leaders and to think that there is no reason that all of this isn't possible for the UK - God is the same everywhere. I'm also inspired every year by Bill Hybels and his leadership. There was one particularly tricky issue he had to deal with this year, which I'll write about in a future blog. He dealt with is with such grace and wisdom that it was quite breathtaking, and incredibly instructional for me.
Finally it's been great to be here with a team. We've had a number of Kerith folk who've never been here before, friends from other churches in Bracknell, and from Lithuania and Soweto, all of whom have heard from God in different ways unique to each one of us.
So to the competition I mentioned in the title. At the Summit they showed a video of declarations, filmed from around the world (it may actually get used as the part of the opener for the GLS we host in October). They did the filming by sending portable flip cameras to 20 different nations, one of which came to us in Bracknell. Colin Boyle did a brilliant job of thinking of creative ways of getting people to make their declarations, many of which made it onto the video. There is a book from one of the speakers at the Summit for the person who can name the most Kerith people on the video - send your answers here. Just a bit of fun - please don't take it too seriously!
I really want to encourage for you to come to the GLS in October, either in Bracknell or somewhere else around the world. If you're part of Kerith register at reception for a special Kerith rate, otherwise take a look at the Willow site to find the location closest to you.