loren Eric Swanson: Bill Hybels in Colorado

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Bill Hybels in Colorado

Yesterday Bill Hybels was at Rocky Mountain Christian Church in Niwot meeting with pastors around the topic of Leadership Development.

Left to its own churches will muddle south and be less and less a reflection of at Acts 2 church. Acts 2 (representing the ideal) church is there because of leaders. That's that leaders do. What will we do? As church leaders change, churches change. As churches change, communities...cities, states...countries and the world change.

Why is the New Testament church so leadership reliant? If you put a bad leader in a good church, it gets worse. If you put a good leader in a bad church in five or ten years there are fantastic results [Eric's note: This should be of good news to any who are in their 9th year in a bad church.]
If the church is generous, cares for the poor, is evangelistically effective, racially reconciling, mobilizes volunteers it is because of leadership. It didn't drift that way. it was led there. If great things are happening its because of prevailing leadership.

I believe there are no bad pastors...just underdeveloped pastors. Good pastors need to get better. Romans 12:8--"Whoever leads, let him / her lead with diligence." This is in the context of Romans 12:1-2--our "reasonable" thing we should do. My responsibility as a leader is to get better at it.

My dream is that every church leader get an "A" in leadership. We can still become better leaders through diligence and humility. What's my plan to improve my leadership?
1) Read everything you can on leadership
2) Go where leadership is taught. I can't overestimate the value of one great leadership thought
3) Get around leaders who are better than you. Call up a leader and invite him / her to lunch. Assure the person you don't want to become best friends just have three questions.

Then Bill opened it up to questions: "What is your leadership challenge?" One question came up regarding motivating people. Bill's answer was instructive: "There are three things leaders must do:
1) Vision casting
2) Team building
3) Inspire and motivate. The church is woefully uninspired"

We need to become one-person thanking machines--thanking those who serve with us. Pay attention to greetings and goodbyes. [This was very insightful and something Bill did personally to the 40 or so folks who were there.] Every person in power communicates something of valuing or diminishing others who are in the room.

Another question came up regarding recruiting and hiring good staff. Bill answered (and I want to note here that Bill always asked others for insight and answers) that our pipeline is usually not broad enough to choose good candidates. Senior pastors need to be intentional about being in places where they are networking and looking for good people with character, competence and chemistry. [Again, this was insightful.] When the person walks into the room do you feel an emotional shot of energy when he / she walks through the door. Register the emotional response of your body. If you can hardly stand a two hour interview, imagine what working with this person would be like. If new-hire starts going south you must bring performance coaching quickly.

Bill also had some insights on board meetings--setting ground rules on respectful behavior recognizing that some folks were about to get their feelings hurt. We need to stay connected to the people we lead. He recommended Henry Cloud's book, Integrity. Never envy a leader. I keep waiting for the day when I do things so well that I won't be criticized...that day will never come. Leaders always bring change and change brings loss for someone else.

I had a second conversion regarding AIDS when I went to Africa. Pastors need a second conversion Congregations will engage in any social issue if they are led and fed. If you are doing it, congregation will follow. We have gone from 2% ethnic to 20% ethnic at Willow. At Christmas we collected $2 million dollars to give to global poverty and AIDS. People who had never been to our church, stopped by or wrote letters--"I want to check this place out." When the church does the heroic and extraordinary things, the unbelieving world pays attention.

Bill then talked about the leaders that were coming to the Willow Leadership Summit in August--Colin Powell, Richard Curtis (film director who orchestrated the American Idol Gives Back campaign that raised $73 m towards Africa and over $1b to aliviate poverty), and a host of others. It was a great morning.


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