Last week The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada presented Bill Hybels in a coaching session with about 120 church leaders in Surrey, BC.
For several hours Bill sat on a stool before these leaders and simply answered questions, which ranged from his latest leadership learnings, to the most complex church related insights.
Here’s a summary of a few of these interactions from that day. In most cases, Bill’s answers were in-depth, using many examples, flip chart illustrations and personal applications. I’ll simply present here the essence of Bill’s responses. Please note that these are not word-for-word transcripts of Bill’s comments but do, I think, capture the essence of his response.
Q: Willow has gone through a fairly tumultuous season in its small group ministry. What have you learned through this season?
Bill: (paraphrased) The value of “community” is far more important than just being in a small group. We used to emphasize that everyone needs to be in a small group. The REVEAL study showed us, among other things, that a structured small group environment is still very important to new believers, but for Christ-centred people the value of community remains strong, but not necessarily in a traditional small group.
Q: What do you think of the house church movement?
Bill: (paraphrased) I have nothing bad to say about the house church movement, as long as they’re functioning as an “Acts 2” church. Some house churches are merely a few couples getting together without living out the model of Acts 2:42-47.
Q: You often talk about your “gift mix.” What are your spiritual gifts, in order?
Bill: (paraphrased) My top gift is leadership, followed by evangelism, then teaching. Here’s what I’ve found. When you operate in your top gift it will give you energy. When you operate in your 2nd gift it might be a wash in terms of energy. Operating in your 3rd gift, and lower gifts, will actually drain your energy.
Q: What do you think of the marketplace ministry movement?
Bill: (paraphrased) I’ve had a change of thinking in this area. I used to think that when a person of influence in the marketplace came to Christ, the benefit to the church was to see that person become a high capacity church volunteer. Now I’m seeing it differently. It could well be that the place God wants that leader to serve Him is right there in his or her marketplace setting. Now, what does that mean? Well, what it doesn’t mean is that the person should become some sort of Christian neon light. Instead the marketplace leader who follows Christ should aim for external and internal congruency. What Christ has done on the inside should be lived out consistently on the outside. People will notice.
Q: You have a lot of data to draw from at Willow which helps you make decisions. Do you ever leverage your leadership based purely on a gut feeling?
Bill: (paraphrased) Absolutely. A leadership axiom that often informs my decisions is, “If something feels funky, engage!” Sometimes you just get a feeling that something is not quite right in a certain part of your organization. Pay attention to those feelings, and act on them. Call a meeting, or just wander into that part of your church and talk to people. You’ll often discover the most interesting things!
Q: What advice do you have for pastors whose church attendance has plateaued?
Bill: (paraphrased) Call a meeting. You’d be amazed at how much of my leadership takes place in the context of a meeting. The first thing I would do is to call a meeting of your congregation and lay out your concerns and call them to higher levels of engagement. And here are the four things I would tell them…
To discover the four challenges Bill would lay out for a congregation where attendance has plateaued, subscribe to my RSS feed and stay tuned to my next post