Hi from a very cold Chicago. - although so far no snow. They told us yesterday not to pray for snow as if it does snow there will be complete chaos on the roads - sounds like fun to me!
I'd love to be able to bring all of you to visit Willow. There is something about it that gets in your spirit. There is the bigness with 155 acres of grounds, huge lakes, a 7,000 seat auditorium, 700 paid staff and over 25,000 attending on a weekend. In comparison our ideas of building over the car park to give us more space seem very achievable and leave me thinking let's just do it. But more than the bigness it's the stories of changed lives that really speak to me and leave me with a deep longing as a leader.
In many ways 2 of yesterdays speakers reflected those two things. First their operations manager and top finance guy Brian McAuliffe. The complexity of administrating somewhere like Willow is unbelievable. A 25 million dollar budget, something like 200 paid admin staff, thousands of volunteers and numerous management groups to report to. My worst nightmare!
But then we had a lady called Kyndra Singer speak to us. She is involved in all their support ministries. Divorce recovery, marriage courses, bereavement counselling, overcoming drug and alcohol addictions, depression, sexual abuse, debt counselling, the list just went on and on. They all meet on a Monday night in their various groups. Then we heard from some people who's lives have been changed through going to those groups. And I'm sitting there in pieces thinking this is it. This is why we do what we do. That broken people (which is all of us) can encounter a God who loves them and can put them back together again. That's why we want to grow, because every person added represents a life changed. And as a bigger church we can reach more people in more different ways. And the new building will just be a tool to allow us to reach the community in different ways. Why not pray right now for the people on your invite list and phone one of them today and arrange to meet them.
Today we've got Gordon MacDonald who came the The Kerith Centre earlier this year speaking - should be good.