When attempting to make my business a ministry, I was deeply impacted by a Bible teacher, and local church leader, who talked openly about his liabilities. I had listened to every one of his messages for almost seven years. He opened me to the idea of the continual process of restoration — that was authenticity.
Early in my restoration journey, I attended one of his conferences for Christian business owners, and we ended up eating dinner at the same table. I watched as Bill glanced at our name tags. Next to me sat John Bertrand, skipper of Australia II — the yacht that in 1983 competed for the America’s Cup and won, ending 132 years of victories by the New York Yacht Club, the longest winning streak in sports. When Bill saw my name tag he noticed I was from Auburn, Indiana.
“That’s where they have the biggest collector car auction in the world,” Bill said.
Then he asked me, “Mitch, what is it that you do?”
He almost fell out of his chair when I responded, “I do that auction, and you just made my life!”
We both laughed together. We hit it off. Bill had left his family business to start a church. He had built a student ministry movement inside a church to almost ten times its adult attendance. When he had discerned his own Holy Spirit prompting to create a new movement, he and a group of like-minded friends walked door-to-door asking people if they attended church. If the answer was, “Yes,” they thanked the people and moved on. However, when the answer was, “No,” they asked, “Why?” The top three responses were: (1) it’s boring, (2) they’re always asking for money, and (3) they always end later than scheduled.
In classic Bill Hybels fashion, he founded a church targeted towards those who did not attend. Each service would be engaging, its leaders would refrain from asking new attendees for money, and each gathering would start and end on time. The first services took place in the Willow Creek Movie Theatre (hence the name, Willow Creek Community Church). Today, Willow hosts more than 24,000 attendees each weekend and 5,000 during its mid-week services. These mid-week services are populated mostly by believers who fully surrendered their lives to Christ during the weekend gatherings.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned from Bill Hybels is the power of an authentic church, following the design of the Designer. The Apostle Paul wrote: “As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him — you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4-5).
Today, ask the Holy Spirit to align your life with the Living Stones and yield the outcomes to Him.
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