The Global Leadership Summit – Day 2

Yesterday was the final day of the Summit and again there was some excellent content.

The first session with John Ortberg was sensational – probably the best of the whole event. Ortberg preached narratively thru the book of Esther and in the process focussed on a leaders’ greatest fear – and the ‘shadow side’ of our leadership. It was powerful and compelling as well as being personally relevant for probably everyone there. Ortberg is quite brilliant and it was amazing preaching.

At morning tea time I was able to catch up with John, the CEO of Willow Creek Australia and discuss my reflections on the conference. We spent the whole 30 minutes or so in conversation, a valuable time for listening to each other and understanding each other’s points of view. John was very open in sharing with me the costs of the conference and the overall cost Australia-wide. He divulged some significant information in relation to where the money goes and how things are costed. I appreciated his openess and his willingness to listen. To the cynics out there, I don’t believe I was being conned or ‘bought’. He struck me as a person of integrity and someone who genuinely wanted the best result possible.

However my conclusion is that the place where we part company is on values.

WCA hold the value of excellence up very very high, so everything needs to be done at a 10/10 level. This obviously costs more money and because of this value they both spend and charge the money to see that value realised.

In discussion with a friend I suggested I may value ‘simplicity’ over excellence and would be content to run the conference at cheaper sites, using cheaper data projectors and with cheaper handouts/booklets. We also use predominantly email marketing and very rarely use hard copy brochures. I realise the value of these things – and we do use them as needed – but they cost a heap and that cost must be accounted for.

John shared how much one of the speakers had cost WCA and I nearly fell over. I don’t feel I have the right to offer that info anywhere (so don’t ask 🙂 ) but it was a huge amount of money. It may well be ‘market value’ in the business world, but I was stunned at this. Again – we hold different values and I would almost always choose the ‘save money’ route on this one too. There are many brilliant people out there who do not charge the earth.

The other value that came thru the was the highly business/corporate aspect and while I recognise the need for organisation I don’t believe the church is firstly a business. (There are business elements – because this is the world we live in.)

At the end of the conversation I have to say that I was satisfied that (within their value system) WCA are doing everything they can to minimise cost. We just don’t share common values… hence the conflict. I’m not going soft on them here, because I want to be quite honest about what I experienced. I just don’t think they can see any ways to cut costs without cutting ‘quality’.

From here it was back to listen to Michael Porter of Harvard Business School who was speaking about how we maximise the investments we make in our local communities. He wasn’t rivetting, but he did say some good stuff. He also made a few feaux paxs that didn’t endear him to an Aussie audience. I left to go to the toilet about half way thru and didn’t make it back in… A few good conversations won me over.

Lunch time… hanging out…

Colin Powell… many people were looking forward to this session, but I found it quite dull. Hybels interviewed Powell and while he said some useful stuff it was very much leadership 101 with few real gems. I wouldn’t bother hearing it again.

The final session was Hybels on the power of inspiration. He spoke about self leadership stuff and keeping yourself inspired. Useful, helpful and practical, but I left before the end to get home in time.

Truthfully, I found the two days really valuable both for content and for connections. In my role with Forge I intentionally place myself in these environments so that I can engage with other Christian leaders and make useful connections that will assist our own work. I also find it helpful to keep reminding people that we are not in opposition to one another and while we may be working with different (sometimes vastly) imaginations of church we are seeking many common objectives.

As Andrew commented in the previous post, this is not the expression of leadership and church I am seeking to grow in, but there is still much to be learnt and plenty of inspiration to be had.

What would I actually

pay for an event like this?…

Its probably hard to say. The original costs of speakers etc would need to be factored in as well as the local venue costs, but I reckon if ‘simplicity’ was elevated as a value then we may be able to save a heap.

12 thoughts on “The Global Leadership Summit – Day 2

  1. I “hear” the dilemma with the different church models. I agree about the philosophical problem regarding money and how it should be spent.

    Even in my own life I recognise that I don’t really want to be poor and so I work hard to try to provide as well as possible for my family. I would like to charge more for what I do. And, I can find plenty of Scriptural support to justify my desire to get ahead.

    But then it becomes a matter of balance. When the desire to get ahead becomes my consuming desire I think that I have lost something far more important.

    I sometimes wonder if conferences/churches/denominations/people that are geared towards organisational concerns have forgotten that balance. Working with people is not very efficient, they let you down, they stuff up, they say things I don’t like and to really top it off they take up lots of time and more often than not it is unscheduled time.

    I am thankful for those people who are able to do the organisational stuff. I also enjoy the fact that I don’t.

  2. “and while we may be working with different (sometimes vastly) imaginations of church we are seeking many common objectives.”


    thanks for posting these posts these last two days…I have been fishing in Cervantes, and wouldnt have gone if I had to pay anyway…but I appreciate the content you have talked about here…and it looks like one speaker at least used extensive use of scripture.

    I wonder if the speaker who cost so much was a Christian speaker, or another one? come on Hamo…tell us, you know you want to 🙂

  3. i wonder if this stuff falls into the category of “if you don’t like it, no one is making you go”.

    I think as you have found hamo, WCA, just like most of our own little experimental expressions of church, community, whatever, are often exactly the way they are PRECISELY because we are convinced it is the best way we know how to do it. And often this “best” has come as a result of much prayer, seeking of wisdom, practice and failure etc.

    now, many people have different definitions of what “best” is, just like many people have different definitions of what “excellence”, “success”, “failure” etc really mean. And if we attend something “outside” our regular fields of pasture, much of the time, it simply serves to remind us of why we are exactly where we are, doing exactly what we do and how we do it.

    this is not to say that we won’t change, but from large organisations to small communities, i reckon changes will rarely come from those outside of the accepted and committed group of like-minded comrades within each structure.

    should we expect anything different?

  4. I worked at the willow creek summit last year and am again this year. I have been discussing conference costs with a friend recently, mostly in relation to paying almost $300 for Hillsong conference. What she pointed out gave me a bit of a start. By profession, she is a corporate trainer. For a half day secular training course you’re up for around $500. So $300 for 4 days is nothing. Also I’ve found that ‘paying the price’ can make use you appreciate something more – you invest and so expect a return.

  5. So did you end up making a donation towards the Summit for what you think it was worth Hamo? Were you able to put a “legitimate” value on it based on your values of simplicity?

  6. One of the fascinating things about God’s world is that it is made up of all types of people. I would prefer a simpler approach but if people who like a more high-powered approach are being helped to become better in their service for God then I’m prepared to accept that is OK for them. Nevertheless it requires people of Hamo’s integrity to not just whinge but go in and talk face to face with these people and explain a different way – even to benefit from their expenditure. If the values of the Christian public are being directed from simplicity to excellence it requires those of us who see this to find opportunities to positively and supportively express our views.

  7. I pre register for Hillsong conference each year and it only costs me $159….early bird…and you get awesome live speakers, excellence par none….and a chance to buy krispy kreme doughnuts….

  8. Thanks for your valuable insights in these 2 posts Hamo. I would have to say that I sit pretty much where you are at on these things. I grab the videos each year for free and enjoy much of the content…for free!

  9. Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism. Lausanne Covenant, 1974.

    That $179.00 would of fed at least 3 starving children in India for a year times 800 present? – at just 1 conference. SHAME. It’s not because it is evil to go to these things – but that others are starving, tell that to a mother of a dying child I spent $179.00 to check out some DVDs, go read James 2:15-17.

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