In three months time I've see Lynne Hybels
and Bill Hybels
at the Wild Goose Festival
In many ways, the two experiences couldn't have been more different. At Wild Goose, it was hard to distinguish the famous from the ordinary. Sessions were more like conversations than lectures. Authors, scholars, and musicians - all with names you'd recognize - used port-a-potties and pitched tents just like the rest of us. We all stunk of sweat and bug spray. And it was beautiful.
At the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit, speakers stood before a packed sanctuary at least three balconies high, while simultaneously being streamed live to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe. We were handed a new shiny pamphlet every time we walked into the room. We were served by warmly smiling volunteers who seemed to literally come out of the woodwork, offering us water-with-lemon or iced coffee. Everyone looked and smelled lovely and there were definitely no port-a-potties.
And yet ... God was there, or as Billy Jonas sang to us at Shakori Hills, "God is In". He was there in the woods and He was there on the giant screen. He was there for the "beer and hymns" and he was there in the water-with-lemon. Not only that, the themes - the message - while communicated differently, were surprisingly similar. Worship. Justice. Peace. Activism. Leadership. Art. Creativity.The pulse of something new.
Of course, some differences were stark. I plan to post soon about how the gay question was handled in both places, and how I personally respect Bill Hybels for some seriously classy leadership in a very tough circumstance. Because it's not about agreement, it's about Love. And his Love was undeniable.
Lynne and Bill, Wild Goose and Willow Creek ... not pitted against one another but literally united in Love (in case you live under a rock, they're married). Both of them using their giftedness, living out their passions, creating a new and better world, often in radically different ways.
I've learned, though, that these worlds aren't so different after all ...and I feel personally challenged to the hard work of walking what sometimes feels like a knife-edge between the two. I'm inviting my Wild Goose-y friends and my Willow Creek-y friends to join me. Poke the boxes (to quote another amazing Leadership Summit speaker) you've been placed in. Challenge whatever your status quo is. Refuse to be pegged as "one of those people" and refuse to be cynical about "those other people". Keep folks guessing (trust me, it's fun!) If we do, I believe the knife-edge will become a wide open space of freedom, where we meet our Maker afresh and invite others to do the same.