5 Surprising Observations from my 7 Hours with 40 Pastors of Today’s Largest Churches

Each year Leadership Network  offers an amazing two day online leadership conference called The Nines. The 2013 conference is scheduled for November 15-16 and will include dozens of today’s most influential pastors and Christian leaders. I’ve been asked to be one of the presenters this year.

On August 1 Leadership Network gathered 40 of these leaders at Saddleback’s retreat center for a one-day forum. I attended and although I felt like a tiny guppy trying to swim upstream with large powerful dolphins, I came away very encouraged by my experience.

If I mentioned the names of these pastors and leaders, you’d probably know them for they headline the major church conferences and write best sellers. Many pastor some of the largest and most innovative mega-churches in the country. Here’s what I observed.

  • Humility: I suppose my subconscious bias assumed I’d see pride in these very successful leaders. However, I didn’t. Rather, almost to the person I sensed humble, teachable spirits.
  • Hunger: Related to humility, none of these leaders even subtly conveyed that they believed they or their ministries had ‘arrived.’ As each leader took a few minutes to share with the group his successes and challenges, each one talked about his hunger to continue to reach others for Christ and to see Him change lives.
  • Heart: These guys obviously loved Jesus and loved people. It wasn’t all about them. One memorable quote came from Rick Warren as he shared about his son’s suicide. After his death, Rick said his greatest encouragement came from those who told him they came to Christ through his son’s influence. He then said, “In God’s garden of grace, even broken trees bear fruit.” Wow. Powerful!
  • Faith: I was amazed at the faith they conveyed through their dreams for their churches. One church had a dream to plant over 100 churches. Another planned to start a new church in every community in their city, 200.
  • Hope for the future: This takeaway encouraged me more than any of the others. If you watch the news, it’s easy to become discouraged by the moral disintegration in our world. However, each of these movers and shakers conveyed undying optimism about the power of the Gospel to change lives, even in our sick world. I was reminded again that I must take my attitude cues not from the news but from the Cross.

What are your thoughts from my observations?


“I just learned 5 hopeful things from pastors of some of today’s mega-churches.” (tweet this quote by clicking here)


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