Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Update from Bill Hybels

Copy and pasted here those of you who don't subscribe to the e-news letter.

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.


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