For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. -- Titus 1: 7-9 (ESV)
We have seen a lot of opinion lately as to what the church should learn from the mess Bill Hybels created over at Willow Creek Church. Unfortunately, so many of the solutions are window dressing, Christianese, or purely carnal in nature. None have gotten down to the root spiritual causes. None have addressed the real concerns that need to be addressed. So allow me to try to pierce through the protective veil of the purpose driven industrial complex who are trying desperately to save the fourth largest church in America, damn the truth and sheep.
1. It is time to break the yoke of the cult of personality church model from around our necks. As the body of Christ our primary concern should be Pat Baranowski; not Bill Hybels. If you do not know who Pat Baranowski is, that is part of the problem. No one did. Baranowski was the Executive Assistant for Mr. Hybels during the 1980s. Among her office duties, Pat was also required to rent porno tapes for Mr. Hybels and watch them with him. She was also forced into performing oral sex allegedly on Mr. Hybels. After Baranowski left that job she struggled with unemployment, depression and homelessness for 20 years. Following the purpose driven church, the cult of personality preachers routinely get rid of any dissenters through what Warren calls "Blessed subtraction."
If you feel the need to defend Bill Hybels at this point then realize you are part of the problem. I remember when Ted Haggard was the head of the National Association of Evangelicals. He headed up a congregation of over 15,000 people and used to rail against homosexuality every week as the root cause of all problems. Then it was discovered he had been having sex with a male prostitute for 20 years while doing crystal meth. That Sunday my pastor opened up about not throwing rocks at Ted Haggard. Seriously? The bible says that those that labor in teaching and preaching are worth double honor because they are judged with a harsher standard. The hypocrisies of Ted Haggard and Bill Hybels are not lost on our dying world beloved. The damage done to Ms. Baranowski is immeasurable but she is not the only victim. How many have had their faith shipwrecked because they placed it in Bill Hybels instead of Jesus Christ? It has to stop.
2. It is time for the church to get out of the bed it has made with this world. The purpose driven mantra has always been relevance. We must meet the lost where they are at! This generation requires something to connect to! The church must meet the needs of the unchurched!
Says no biblical text anywhere.
What the bible does say is we are supposed to be a shining city on a hill. We are supposed to be a peculiar people. We are supposed to understand our citizenship is in heaven. When Hybels was starting up Willow Creek 1975, he canvassed the unsaved people surrounding the church p-property to find out what they liked and did not like about church. Legend has it that they overwhelmingly said the crosses bothered them so Hybels removed all crosses from his church. How absurd! Of course the cross is going to offend the unsaved! It also reminds us when we are considering forcing our secretary to provide oral sex exactly what Jesus suffered for our sin. A reminder Bill Hybels could have used over the years. Is anyone genuinely surprised that Willow Creek ended this way? They have spent the past two decades creating the most carnal leadership conferences and pretending they were Christian. Yet the vast majority of the speakers were always from the world or heretics from other mega churches. The principles taught were not biblical. The church is falling away beloved as the bible predicts it will. If your church is more about your pastor than Jesus or sacrifices biblical truth for worldly relevance I am going to be blunt. You need to leave.
3. Can we once and for all end this carnal chase for leadership skills? The Willow Creek Leadership Summit was the largest such of its kind in the world. Broadcast around the globe for the right price, the Summit was a virtual who's who in carnal leadership. Sure an occasional pastor or Christian type was thrown in but it was that Jack Welch's, former CEO of General Electric that filled the seats. I remember one year Colin Powell was the featured speaker despite the lying presentation he made to the UN that launched our country into ten years of war. Another year the church cheered as cross dressing super star Tyler Perry was the featured speaker. It has to end beloved. Paul says follow me as I follow Christ. That is all the leadership summit you need.
The problem is the purpose driven church growth models are not spiritual in nature. They are pure carnality. They change the Gospel and render it useless. They implement worldly business principles and practices to change the church into a business. Many mistakenly believe that the Gospel is the product they are marketing but remember they altered the Gospel! The actual product is their individual church. Come back; next week we have the best band and professionally trained singers! Come back; we have excellent kidz ministries and ample parking! Come back; we have a dynamically speaking cult of personality pastor that is just the right mix faux hawk, grunge tattoos and skinny jeans. Don't ask how his secretary feels!
Look, I am sure those who have spoken out intended well. Yes prayer is always vitally important. Yes we should hold each other to account, including pastors. But enough dancing around the real issues. The church today is going off the rails. The once proud Assemblies of God has fully embraced heretic after heretic. The purpose driven church has infected the vast majority of pastors who seek to build their own little fiefdom instead of the kingdom of God. The seeker friendly theories of church growth have caused us to compromise everything for the sake of nothing. We need to throw the wolves out of our pulpits and follow the key verses to elect our leaders. I have heard pastors read these qualifications and say they were unattainable. Nonsense. We don't even try.
If you want to pray for Bill Hybels, go right ahead. I do not pray for wolves because their condemnation is from long ago and their destruction does not sleep according to Scripture. Bill Hybels has contributed mightily to the current level of apostasy in the church from the moment he threw the crosses out of his church over 30 years ago. My concern is with the Pat Baranowski's of the church. The victims of wolves. She spent 25 years roaming the streets wondering what she did wrong while Bill Hybels flew from one corner of the world to the other insisting he was an expert on leadership. Save it Bill. No one is following anymore.