From 25-27 August 2022, the German Willow Creek congress took place in Leipzig, Germany. Due to Covid, the congress had to be moved from February to August. This was the only other option for 2022. Because for many, this was still in the holiday season, about 3000 people pulled out who had formerly registered. This left the planning team having to negotiate big time and at the end we had about 4650 participants live and streamed to 8 locations in Germany. It became one of the smallest congresses ever in the 28 years of Willow Creek Germany.
Various inspiring people gave talks challenging us to love Jesus, manage ourselves well, invest into church, lead in a crisis, develop more body postures etc. I wrote down many things for further reflection.
I have always enjoyed the Willow youth congresses and have attended the leadership ones for three times now. To my surprise I was asked in May 2022 if I could imagine moderating the congress, together with someone else from the Willow team. It is something I really like, though I often feel very nervous at the start. To make people welcome and lead them through an event is a real honour but also a huge responsibility.
BUT HERE COMES MY GOD MOMENT
At the beginning of this year I had a discussion with God where I expressed my desire to wanting to moderate a conference again. But as I am so much investing into younger leaders, I often sense I should not only share my stage but also pass it on. Somehow the thoughts had entered my mind, I am becoming too old for some of the things I love and I need to let go. And yes, it is not always easy. After my conversation with God, I left it at this and continued investing in leaders.
Now the call came where I was asked to do exactly this, moderate a conference. I was like, “God, are you serious? Did you really take my word and desire to your heart?” I was really touched and felt God had opened another door which I had thought might have already been shut.
So I got to the conference early, spent many hours on the moderation, slept little and ate only occasionally as schedule was tight. In addition, the German Willow leadership congresses never had a female moderator before in their 28 years of existence so I also needed to negotiate this in my heart as well, not wanting to feel the extra pressure nor wanting to mess up for the sake of other women. All these things though where no hindrance for God to use me. So he also entrusted me to do interviews…. 🙂
I co-moderated with Stefan Pahl, a Lutheran pastor and leader of a ministry. We had met before but really only in passing. So this was another added uncertainty, but Stefan was a great cheerleader and guided me through this process. And we actually had fun. It was a great and blessed adventure and I thank God for once again taking me seriously and loving me more than I ever could. In my mind I surely was not thinking of such a big congress, but God surprised me even more.
It was also an extra treat to see my book being highlighted in the bookshop. I even had my own name stand!
I also appreciated having my friend Annette Penno with me who helped me to debrief at the end of the day. Having my brother in law, Martin Sass, handling the stage added another great treat. At least I got my daily dose of hugs!
I am not sure where you stand at the moment, but I would like to encourage you to discuss with God, share your heart´s desires and when he opens the doors, please go through them. There will always be people who will be better than you and me, but God only asks us to be faithful, trust him and then give our best.
A huge thank you to Willow Creek Germany for their trust and friendship. They do a great work in encouraging leaders on so many different levels. May God bless them in their future!