By Michael Miller

The message of the 2006 Leadership Summit session I attended earlier this month was this:


Follow the ways of the world. Follow the ways of corporations. Follow the ways of entertainment and entertainers. Follow the ways of academics. Follow the ways of secular thinkers.

Whatever you do as a Christian, don’t lead. Don’t set an example for the world outside the church. Don’t do anything that might cause the non-Christian world to sit up, take notice and wonder about these “Christians that love one another.”

The Leadership Summit is run by Willow Creek Association, which comes out of Willow Creek Community Church, the mother of all megachurches, in South Barrington. That the Summit, which features speakers from the corporate, political and entertainment world with the occasional pastor thrown in, pursues a corporate mentality makes sense since to run huge churches takes such an approach.

Now granted, I only heard two speakers at the satellite downlink site at Northwoods Community Church. Besides the fact that I only had a morning free that week, I can only stand a couple hours of watching TV before I start having spiritual twitches. Both speakers spoke on the corporate mentality, with Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels dropping in the words “Holy Spirit” and “prayer” to make it a little more churchy.

The focus was on hiring, personnel, greatness, results, power, staff – all of your usual corporate necessities.

Neither of the speakers – Ashish Nanda of Harvard Business College and motivational speaker/writer Jim Collins – expressed a Christian faith. In fact, Hybels, the father of seeker-sensitive Christianity, joked more than once about the fact that Collins wasn’t a Christian believer.

The rest of the Leadership Summit’s line-up consisted mostly of other corporate/business/motivational/entertainment types, like Bono and Illinois state Sen. James Meeks of Chicago.

Some people I spoke with during a break said they were enjoying the sessions and benefiting from the speakers no matter what their spiritual status.

One minister said that if “good insights and good principles” work and are helpful, “it doesn’t matter” where they come from.

“God uses different people and different voices,” he said.

A Sunday school teacher said the principles she was learning “have worked in the business world” and that she appreciated hearing “how we can adapt them in the social sector.”

TEC contacts

I neglected in a recent column to mention how people interested in taking part in Teens Encounter Christ can do so.

They can call the Peoria TEC Center at 676-5587, view www.peoriacursillotec.com or send e-mail to tecinfo@peoriacursillotec.com.

TEC is a Catholic-based renewal weekend for young people ages 16 to 20.

MICHAEL MILLER covers religion for the Journal Star. Write to him in care of the Journal Star, 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call him at 686-3106, or send e-mail to mmiller@pjstar.com. Comments may be published.

Copyright 2006/Peoria Journal Star/Reprinted With Permission
No further reproduction by any means permitted.