U2- Window in the Skies
Miss Sarjevo, Live from Milan (Bono sings opera!)
Dick Towner, executive director of the Good $ense financial ministry at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, says pastors shoot themselves in the foot by reducing the topic to an annual plea for more money.
"One friend calls it the lamentation of desperation for the church budget," Towner says. "In large measure the church has failed to teach on stewardship. Materialism has won the day in the hearts and minds of people."
Towner sees various factors at work in the church’s failure to teach about stewardship, starting with most seminaries neglecting the subject.
In addition, he says many pastors are uncomfortable discussing money, either because of modest salaries or high educational debt that leaves them struggling to pay their bills.
They also face potential opposition from congregants who are either ignorant of how often the Bible addresses the topic or guilt over their own lack of giving. Yet, two-thirds of Christ’s parables concern money or possessions, Towner says.
"Materialism is a theological subject," Towner says. "It teaches that ultimate reality is in physical reality and everything can be explained by it. It’s a god of good news that (says), ‘Things bring happiness.’"
Dear E-News Friends,
I know this update is long overdue, so let me begin by saying I am sincerely sorry for not communicating sooner. No excuses.
These past few months have been packed with some of the most exciting experiences of my life. The Leadership Summit was judged by many as the best ever. Over sixty thousand pastors and church leaders attended the various sites all over North America. Shortly after that, the top-rated sessions were translated into multiple languages and final preparations were made for our Global Leadership Summits which are taking place this fall in 52 cities around the world. More than 20,000 international pastors and church leaders will benefit from these high-impact two-day events. Two weeks ago our dream of a Global Summit in Moscow was realized when almost a thousand church leaders gathered in the heart of that great city. The reports we received from that site alone made the entire GLS effort worthwhile.
While all of that was going on, we launched the new ministry season at Willow. I was privileged to do a three-week series titled “When God Rocks Your World.” The final weekend of the series featured a 45 minute video interview I did with the Irish rock star, Bono, from U2. Bono talked about his own spiritual journey as well as his passion to fight the dual tragedies of global poverty and AIDS. I never tire of seeing God touch and transform lives of the most unusual people!
In early October we also launched our fourth Willow regional congregation—in the heart of downtown Chicago. Those who attended the Grand Opening service will never forget what it was like to see more than 2,500 people stream into Chicago’s historic Auditorium Theater. Who knows what God might do in and through that new congregation?
Next came a trip to Korea that timed out perfectly with the North Korean testing episode. But I will remember that trip for another reason. Just as I was ready to give my final evening talk, the auditorium where we were meeting exploded into an extravaganza of music, laughter, applause, confetti, dancers, streamers and singing. I was totally caught off-guard until a huge banner unfolded with “Happy Birthday Willow Creek” sprawled across it. At the same, time a cake was brought out on stage with October 12, 1975 written on it and 31 candles waiting to be blown out. Later that night, in my hotel room, I pondered the significance of a church on the other side of the world throwing a birthday party for a church in suburban Chicago. I also reflected on the heartfelt words of the senior pastor of that church as he and his congregation prayed that night for Willow. “Thank you, God,” they prayed, “for raising up a church that has inspired us to believe that Acts 2 can still be experienced today.”
And speaking of Acts 2…just last week we test-flew a new way of teaching and learning at our A2 conference by presenting case studies of six different WCA churches that are living out their calling to “be the church” in unique ways. By all accounts, the opportunity to learn from a variety of different ministry experiences was a home run.
Clearly it’s been a productive fall in terms of conferences…and it’s not over yet! Next week 7,000 church leaders will gather in Bremen, Germany for our European Leadership Summit. Please pray for God’s blessing on that event.
On the personal front, Lynne and I are thoroughly enjoying our new role as grandparents! On October 7 our daughter Shauna and son-in-law Aaron welcomed Henry Todd into the world. I am not being biased when I say he is the coolest baby ever born. It’s the simple truth! Holding him in my arms when he was barely 20 minutes old was one of the peak moments of my life. I can speak for the entire Hybels family when I say that we consider the arrival of this little guy as the highlight of the year.
Finally, many of you are aware that I have been fighting some battles on the health front for the past several months. I would appreciate your continued prayers in that regard. Mayo Clinic physicians are confident I can make a full recovery from the respiratory infection and related complications that have been plaguing me, but they have also reminded me that a 54-year-old body can no longer do what a 40-year-old body once did. Hmmm….that was new information to me…but I can’t deny it any longer. While I look forward to the myriad of Kingdom challenges that still lie ahead, I realize that I need to approach them with a modified level of intensity and pace. Your prayers for wisdom as I sort this all out will be appreciated more than you know.
I had the pleasure of attending this show, but there's more at work here than personal nostalgia. In fact, I almost didn't recognize the 90-minute concert video, because the lighting and audio has only improved with first rate editing and mixing.
It looks and sounds comparable in quality to productions by U2 and Coldplay, and the accompanying CD captures most of the excellence. Moreover, the behind-the-scenes featurette is actually interesting to watch, and a fascinating 30-minute documentary delightfully demystifies the band's celebrity by sharing their history, home life, and personal photos. You truly get to know Delirious and their mission better with this project.
The set list relies more heavily on Delirious' The Mission Bell than on their classics, though that helps distinguish this from past concert albums.
The Bottom Line:
Access:D remains their best live album, but this will likely become the quintessential concert video for Delirious—generous in quality and content, everything's done right here.
Evangelical and Catholic leaders who have issued a joint statement declaring that care for the vulnerable in society is an essential requirement of authentic Christianity which must reject any deliberate taking of innocent human life as murder.
“The direct and intentional taking of innocent human life in abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and embryonic research is rightly understood as murder,” the document ‘That They May Have Life’ declares, from Evangelicals and Catholics Together.
Catholic leaders who endorsed the statement include Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., Fordham University, Fr. Francis Martin, a foremost Catholic theologian and member of Mother of God Community, and Mr. George Weigel, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
Evangelical leaders included Mr. Charles Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship, pastors Bill Hybels and Rick Warren, with the Willow Creek Community Church and Saddleback Church, respectively, and Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.