Princeton, Willow Creek, and DC

I spent Sunday through Tuesday at the Envision Conference at Princeton University. The highlight of my time there – all of which was important and good – was the round table on the emerging church … It was done in a Pecha Kucha format, planned and organized by Keelan Downton. Each presentation came through like poetry.
Especially impressive to me was the diversity of the panel – An Asian American man (Al Hsu), an Anglo American woman (Bowie Snodgrass), an African man (Claude Nikondeha – who flew 30 hours from Burundi to be there), an Anglo American man (Doug Pagitt), an African American woman (Alise Barrymore), an Australian man (Michael Smitheram), a Native American man (Randy Woodley), and a Latino man (Gabriel Salguero). With the sheer creativity and vitality of their presentations, the range and depth of content, the mix of humilty, sincerity, and hope … I had tears in my eyes through much of the time.
Then I spent Wednesday and Thursday at Willow Creek in Chicago. I’ve been a fan of Willow Creek since the beginning. Even when many people were critical, I’ve always felt that Willow’s leadership was so extraordinary that it was a mistake to caricature Willow or in any way count them out. They have kept learning and leading, and my honest feeling from being there twice in recent months is this: Willow Creek’s most powerful contributions are still ahead of them. Seeing Nancy Beach in action this week confirmed this confidence – as did hearing reports of the recent Celebration of Hope launched by the church – in my mind, an event of historic proportions that I hope you’ll be hearing more about soon. Bill Hybels’ vision seems to me to be more prophetic and incisive than ever … stay tuned on this.
So, I’m home today, recovering from a lot of travel, preparing to speak at the Sojourners’ Emerging Leaders Dinner tonight here in DC, part of the Pentecost 08 gathering. I’m very encouraged. Good and beautiful things are happening.