UPDATE: If you're here searching for Gene Appel News here's a link to Gene's new location.

I have to say that I have a new respect for Gene Appel.  Hearing him talk about "Can Willow Change" was eye opening.  Imagine the challenges of succeeding Bill Hybels!  I loved his line about the old African saying, "The problem with finding ivory is that it is usually attached to an elephant!"  Quite a powerful session.

Appel walked us through the challenges facing Willow and they're facing quite a list.  Think about the challenges of this list:

  1. Willow is aging.  The average age has moved from 38 in 1995 to 48 in 2005.
  2. Demographics are shifting.  South Barrington was almost entirely Caucasian when the church was founded.  Now, within a 20 minute drive the northwest suburbs are increasingly multi-cultural.
  3. Seekers are changing.  The early strategy assumed that a seeker wanted to be anonymous.  Today, it is clear that there is a desire to connect and to experience.
  4. Lives today are increasingly busy and fragmented.
  5. Waning # of Creekers know their neighbors.
  6. Deepening value of compassion.  In 1995, 771 were involved in compassion related ministry.  2005 saw over 10,000 involved.
  7. People with the biggest hearts for God and people are the ones at greatest risk of leaving.
  8. Leaders spread too wide with margins too thin.

Really quite a list.  Daunting.  But what I found myself thinking throughout was how they seem to care about what is at stake.  I'll post more later about what they're doing about it.  Really a very compelling session.

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Here's a link to the story that broke January 26, 2008: Big Changes at Willow  And here's the link to the story from Willow's own enewsletter: Kingdom Redeployments: Appel, Frazee Pursue New Ministry Options

A2 Day Two: Gene Appel
  • This has been a great conference….I have enjoyed your takes.

  • Other bloggers who are at A2

    I thought I would mention a couple of other blogs that I admire who are also blogging from the A2 conference. They are… Perry Noble, Strategy Central and Mark Batterson