Overall it was an amazing event. Getting to hear speakers of the quality of Bill Hybels, Condoleezza Rice, Jim Collins, John Ortberg, Craig Groeschel and Parick Lencioni speak one after another is quite breathtaking, and leaves you feeling you need a two day retreat after each talk to process it! It's actually quite exhausting being bombarded with so much information, wisdom and inspiration! I know that much of it will influence the direction we are going in over the next few years, especially with regard to multisite, social justice and being a multi-generational church.
Also just being on the Willow campus is always inspiring, reminding me again of the bigness of what God can do when people step out in their faith. I know that the Kerith Centre has a similar impact on many people who walk into it for the first time, but to sit in Willow's 7,200 seat auditorium, set in 220 acres of land, knowing that the event we're part of will by this time next year have been seen by over 160,000 leaders is incredibly inspiring. I wish you could all go there one day!
It's also great to go there and catch up with old friends, as well as making some new ones. Spending time with people like Ian Galloway from Newcastle, James Galloway from Stoke on Trent, David Shearman from Nottingham, Major General Tim Cross who is speaking at the Alpha Supper, Jeff Lockyer who leads a great church in Canada, some of the guys from Nigeria who years ago came to Bracknell to learn about running the GLS and now run events all over Africa, Gary Schwammlein from Willow US, Catrina spending time with Shauna Niequist, me seeing her husband Aaron again, Will Salmon from Willow in the UK - all great people doing some amazing things for God.
It was also really good to be there for the first time with our Senior Leadership team. I know that God strengthened us as a team, both relationally and in terms of where we sense God is saying about the various ministries we lead. On a personal note it was also great to have Catrina there, and for our son Zak to be exposed to Willow and the summit for the very first time.
Finally to see our hosts Mark and Nanci Arnold again. Mark and Nanci have been our host for the past six years of going to the summit and this year they just excelled themselves in the way they looked after us all - thank you!
So here's my encouragement. You may not have had the privilege of coming out to Chicago to hear the GLS live, but you can get to see it in the comfort of the Kerith Centre, without having to go on an 8 hour flight and put up with being jet lagged for a week afterwards! In many ways I think it's actually a better event when we run it. Not because we're better than Willow, but because:
- We filter out the not so great speakers :)
- There is more worship (we only sang two songs in Chicago)
- There is more time to process what each speaker has said after their session
- The tea and coffee are free
- The queues for the toilets are shorter (even for the girls!)
- Lots of other reasons I can't think of right now!