For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
– Romans 15:4, ESV
The Chicago Tribune published a lengthy exposé about sexual misconduct allegations that have been made against Bill Hybels, the founder and Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. I don’t want to repeat them here, but I encourage you to read the story and Willow Creek’s and Bill Hybels’ response.
I’m very familiar with this congregation. I had many friends and serve at the church in South Barrington, IL (a suburb northwest of Chicago) when I attended Trinity International University. I attended their youth ministry conference when I was a youth pastor. I’ve attended their services in the past.
I’m personally not a fan of the seeker-sensitive worship model and I don’t agree with all of Hybels’ or the church’s theology (doctrines of grace, women as elders and pastors, etc.). That said, I do appreciate their heart for the lost, I did come away with some great ideas through their training, and I have zero doubt that God has used that church in Chicago and beyond.
I am also concerned when any church encounters trouble like this. Churches with the impact and visibility that Willow Creek has is even more troubling because of the impact it can make throughout the global Church.
The news story also just makes me sad. It is disappointing if true, and I’m familiar with some of his accusers (Nancy Beach, John and Nancy Ortberg) so I can’t envision what motive they would have to lie. A number of the claims seem credible and at least one, not so much.
On the other hand, if this isn’t true, I would be equally disappointed in the accusers. I find it sad all around.
I think what is definitely clear in the article, whether or not anything inappropriate took place, was that he did not truly practice the “Billy Graham rule” like he encouraged others to do.
The “Billy Graham rule” comes from the late evangelist’s policy to not spend time alone with women he was not related or married to. It served him well.
If he had there would have been no side trip with Nancy Beach. There would not have been any one-on-one meetings with women that could have put him (and the women!) in potentially compromising situations. Following the “Billy Graham rule” would have guarded against false accusations and prevented potential sexual misconduct.
I wish that Hybels would admit to failing in this way or that Willow Creek would call him out on it.
While the church should not assume the allegations are true, they shouldn’t assume they are not as well.
The Bible says, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses,” (1 Timothy 5:19, ESV).
If the Chicago Tribune story is accurate (and I think they were fair in getting both sides of the story) we are well beyond that threshold.
It’s important that we don’t put leaders on a pedestal, so high that we think they can never fall. Because when they do fall it reverberates through the church.
The Apostle Paul added in his instruction to Timothy, “As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear,” (1 Timothy 5:20, ESV).
I do commend Willow Creek Community Church’s elders for investigating the allegations.
My prayer is that Willow Creek will reconsider whether the investigation they instigated was thorough enough. Three former board members of the Willow Creek Association, one of whom I know personally, resigned because they believed it was not.
I also pray that there will be transparency (they have not released the investigator’s report). Even if Hybels did not engage in sexual misconduct, it’s important to disclose whether or not he put himself in compromising situations. It’s also important for the church to know how thorough the investigation really was.
Also, let this be a lesson to all in leadership. Lead and live above reproach. The “Billy Graham rule” is a great policy to make your own.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty,” (Psalm 91:1, ESV).
They who truly come to God for mercy, come as beggars, and not as creditors: they come for mere mercy, for sovereign grace, and not for anything that is due.
– Jonathan Edwards
I took this photo last June while on a nighttime walk with my daughters. We were on the High Trestle Trail Bridge near Madrid, IA at night. If you’ve never been to this trail and its bridge, I highly encourage you to go both during the day so you can see the scenic Des Moines River valley and at night so you can experience it lit up.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
– John 16:33, ESV
Well, it has been a week since I published my last round-up. I have been blogging, but I haven’t been so great at blogging here. Here are my submissions at Caffeinated Thoughts and Truth in American Education over the last week.
From Caffeinated Thoughts:
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds set the date for a special election in Iowa Senate District 25 for Tuesday, April 10, 2018. This follows the resignation of former Iowa Senate Majority Leader Bill Dix (R-Shell Rock).
Iowa Democrats hope for a historic blue wave in 2018 due to President Trump’s unpopularity, a competitive gubernatorial race, a good turnout for the mid-term Iowa Caucuses, the potential to flip Iowa’s 1st Congressional District, and the number of Republican state legislators retiring.
The Iowa House Human Resources Committee passed the fetal heartbeat abortion ban by a 12 to 9 vote just before the second funnel deadline of the 2018 legislative session.
Both chambers of the Iowa Legislature in bipartisan fashion rejected the Iowa Department of Education’s choice for a statewide assessment in favor of one developed by the University of Iowa’s Iowa Testing Program.
Theresa Greenfield, a leading Democrat candidate in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District race, failed to make the June 5th primary ballot after attempting to resubmit her nomination petition upon learning her campaign manager forged some signatures.
Twenty-one Iowa Legislators have decided not to run for reelection in 2018. The Iowa House will have 16 members retire after this session. Twelve Republicans and four Democrats will leave the House. The Iowa Senate Republicans will have two retirements and Democrats will see three.
Before State Representative Bruce Hunter (D-Des Moines) hurls insults at Iowa House Republicans it would be wise for him to 1. remember what chamber he is in, and 2. remember what party he is in.
8. Right to Keep and Bear Arms Amendment Passes Iowa House
The Iowa House passed HJR 2009, a “right to keep and bear arms” amendment that would amend the Iowa Constitution to add language affirming the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, by a 54 to 42 vote.
The Iowa Secretary of State released the final uncertified list of candidates that will appear on the June 5th primary ballot. Iowa Republicans wil11.l have 19 contested primaries with five incumbents receiving a challenge.
Boys are in crisis. On the Caffeinated Thoughts Podcast, I discuss this with Mark Hancock, the CEO of Trail Life USA, who explains how his ministry helps to address this crisis and the good it does for the boys it serves, as well as, the men who lead local chapters.
U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said President Trump would cause a constitutional crisis if he fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller and then Congress would have no recourse but to impeach. Senator Flake has that backward, Congress would be the cause, not President Trump.
Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett’s nomination petition signatures for Iowa’s June 5th Republican Gubernatorial Primary have been formally challenged putting his place on the ballot in doubt.
From Truth in American Education:
This year, Louisiana elementary schools are now required to teach cursive. Louisiana joins 15 other states that require the same and their students will be better off.
With the standards and accountability movement in education, along with its hyper-focus on testing, recess has become a luxury instead of a necessity for elementary school students.
The South Dakota Board of Education Standards adopted new academic standards in subjects such as math and ELA after no public comment during their last four public meetings held at 9:00a in various parts of the state.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable,” (Isaiah 40:28, ESV).