Mat’s September Letter

Be strong and courageous

During the summer I was privileged to go to a leadership conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago with some of my colleagues. The trip was a gift from a mystery donor keen to improve leadership in the Church of England. The conference delegates were a mixture of church leaders and business leaders from many countries across the world and the USA. It was a great conference and I learned a lot.

The opening session was by Bill Hybels, the senior pastor at Willow Creek. He spoke about courage based on God’s words to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9Open Link in New Window. Joshua’s courage doesn’t come from his confidence in his own ability, or from confidence given to him by his compatriots, it comes from God’s calling on his life and God’s presence with him. It comes when he trusts God.

Bill Hybels went on to speak about the need for leaders to be courageous. Specifically he spoke of being courageous in speaking the truth about the current reality, courageous in creating a fantastic culture and courageous in establishing and enforcing values. I have reflected a lot on this for myself, for us as a church community and a dispersed community throughout the week. I hope and pray that my reflections on my own leadership at St Matthew’s will bear fruit as I talk initially to the PCC and Leadership team.

And I believe that there is also a message for us as a whole church, a simple message: Be courageous because God is with us wherever we go. We need to become an increasingly courageous community. That means being courageous in taking risks as we take our next steps as a whole church, being courageous as we live for Jesus, being courageous speaking about our faith in Jesus, being courageous in the decisions that we make individually about how to use our time and talents and crucially being courageous in our openness to one another and God’s Holy Spirit. What does being courageous mean for you at this moment?

“Be strong and courageous, do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”


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