When the leaders of Catalyst Church in Australia realized they needed to find ways to be more connected with their community, they reached out to a church in near Chicago named Willow Creek, led by Bill Hybels. The church held cultural relevance as one of its core values, which was exactly what Catalyst needed.
They began a long-term relationship that began 20 years ago and led to Catalyst Church becoming a site for The Global Leadership Summit in 2005. Australia was one of the first countries to host the GLS as a video conference.
“Guys! Do You See What’s Going on?”
“I freely admit now, I was one of the people who was fairly skeptical about how well it would go as a video conference,” said Larry Commons, a producer of the first GLS at Catalyst Church. “Ten minutes into Bill’s first message, I remember saying, ‘Guys! This is working! Do you see what’s going on?’ Everyone in the audience was engaged, listening to Bill on video as if he were a live speaker. I was hooked from there, and recognized the value and the foundation, and what the GLS as an inspiration and leadership encouragement could do.”
Late in 2006, after the GLS launched in Australia, Larry received a call from Karen Wilson, another leader in the country who said calls were coming in from people in Manila, Jakarta and Singapore who wanted to bring the GLS to their areas. Larry become more involved with the GLS in Asia and in 2012, he stepped into the role of executive director of the Southeast Asian region.
Larry’s Grander Vision: Souls in Heaven
“It’s not necessarily about leadership on its own,” said Larry. “It’s not necessarily about the local church. I fully recognize how important and central those things are, and they’re important and central to me, but I always come back to the fact that this is the Kingdom of God. This is mission work. I’m a missionary for the Kingdom of God. The grander vision for me is that there would be souls won into the Kingdom of heaven through the GLS and through leaders who are inspired and encouraged, and challenged to stay and improve their leadership.
“For me it’s souls in heaven for eternity. That’s my grander vision. I always come back to that. That’s what Jesus was about.”
Encouragement to leaders around the world
Leadership is hard. It’s tough work. “There are some days, and hours of some days where I feel alone and discouraged. I feel like this is it. I’m done,” said Larry. “But then straight away, I turn back to God, and remember what He’s called me to.
“If I could say anything to leaders, I would say to remember your calling. Remember God’s Word. If you’re not in a place where you feel like you can keep going, find a place where you can receive the encouragement and inspiration you need…and keep going.
“Your calling is precious. Leadership is so important in the church, and in the world.”