Willow Creek Association Addresses Bill Hybels Controversy at Opening of Global Leadership Summit (VIDEO)

After the resignation of Lead Pastor Heather Larson and all Willow Creek church elders last night, President and CEO of the Willow Creek Association Tom De Vries addressed the Bill Hybels controversy at the Global Leadership Summit this morning. Watch:

He seemed sorry for something and then said the Global Leadership Summit would continue doing good work as in the past. Many would disagree with De Vries self-justification. He said there will be three commitments. One is to promote an independent investigation of allegations against Hybels. A second commitment is to explore power dynamics between men and women in the workplace at the summit and then a commitment to extend the topic after the summit.

He also addressed why the WCA didn’t cancel the GLS this year. Essentially, he said leaders have to step out and do something (as if pausing isn’t doing something). Then he said they are doing it for the women attending and used numbers of host sites that don’t match his own website’s numbers. In other words, the world can’t go on without the GLS.

Imagine a World Without

It is this attitude (the world needs us) that turns me off and strikes me as presumptuous. I am open to reasons why the show must go on. Maybe somebody’s livelihood is dependent on it. I get that. But don’t tell me that the sun won’t come up or that women around the world would be lost without you.

I think this is what gets evangelical pastors — like Bill Hybels maybe?– into trouble. I think Mr. De Vries expressed some of that too. The GLS must go on  because we need it to. No, actually we don’t. Find some other reason.

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Image fair use from GLS conference website.

13 thoughts on “Willow Creek Association Addresses Bill Hybels Controversy at Opening of Global Leadership Summit (VIDEO)”

  1. “He seemed sorry for something…” Really? Please leave heart judgement to God and reserve man judgement for things like fruit. Recognize what an incredibly difficult position this is to navigate! It is easy to sit back and criticize soundbites, but asking God to illuminate how you can positively impact our brothers and sisters who are hurting would possibly yield restoration if led by the Holy Spirit. I listened to a few of the talks and am grateful for the tools of discipleship, encouragement, and mentoring. Why are we so upset that the conference went forward? Are failings and sinful grooves of some to be given the power to immobilize something positive? Do we know the motives of every speaker, organizer, leader, and financial backer? If your reaction stems from never finding value in this large church summit, then don’t participate. It is not for you. The gospel was shared multiple times. That alone is valuable to someone. You don’t have to support or listen – just don’t tear down. When I am frustrated with my church, the Holy Spirit reminds me that these people love Jesus. This brings everything back to center.

  2. IMO, this guy just used a lot of words to distance himself from the church founded by Bill Hybels, and to tell us how great and important the summit founded by Bill Hybels still is. I was impressed by neither attempt.

  3. “The sun will come out
    Bet your bottom dollar
    That tomorrow,
    There’ll be sun. . .” “Tomorrow” from Annie, 1977

    Really, the Global Leadership Summit just isn’t all that necessary for defining the power dynamics between men and women in the world, or much else, really. You should get your own house in order before you try that. Are you actually in favor of equality between men and women, or are you expecting the “leadership” you promote to come mostly from men?

  4. The world may need you, true enough, but in this case it means to repent, to show honesty, to be broken, and to face the music. You must not betray the many around the world (in prisons…) who (still) look to you for the image of Christ, for hope and redemption.

  5. Then he said they are doing it for the women attending

    This is the type of thing religious leaders often say which sounds “humble” superficially, but is in fact the exact opposite. It’s the pretense of self-sacrifice. That they just care about others so much that they simply must sacrifice their precious time and energy to hold this conference. But in effect, what the person is really saying is that they feel they are just *so* important, knowledgeable, and skilled that they are the only ones who can help you. And in reality, the whole conference is a giant ego boost to leaders anyway. They are the ones on stage speaking, the center of attention. Their name and picture is usually everywhere. They are ones praised throughout.

    1. I think the word is patronizing. Why in the world would an organization with the issues on display now think that it can minister meaningfully to women (except possibly through tears and sackcloth/ashes)? What good thing does it really have to offer that can’t be found in some other ministry, or perhaps better, simply in the Bible itself?

  6. I find this common attitude that “our ministry is indispensable to God” abhorrent and utterly Pharisaical. None of us are that important that the world cannot go on without us. This attitude is based in arrogance, pride and a whole lot of narcissism. The reality is that the egos of the leaders cannot take failure. This crap is anti-Christ right down to its very core. People need to flee whenever they see this attitude. Do not waste your time, do not donate, do not buy the b.s. Leadership in the church is so extremely bad, in general, because almost no one has any idea what real humility actually looks like. They look to men heavily influenced by devils and think they see “men of God.”

  7. Not coincidentally, the “not indispensable” has been made in relation to the #MeToo revelations in the entertainment industry. In particular, when Louis C.K. was exposed as a harasser and a number pf people said it would be a shame to lose such a great talent from the industry, it was pointed out that there are plenty of other talented comics and writers out there ready to replace him — including women who have previously been deterred or denied their fair shot by the antics of Louis C.K. and his ilk. There are vanishingly few in this world who are genuinely indispensable.

    Of course, the real reason why the conference “must go on” is because not to do so would have a massive impact on their finances with knock on effects that could last for years. It would be refreshing to hear an organization drop the marketing consultant generated messages and tell the unvarnished truth for once (especially one whose core tenet is one of Christian values), but we know that’s not going to happen.

  8. “A second commitment is to explore power dynamics between men and women in the workplace…”

    These kind of statements strike me as humorous. The implication is that this issue of power and gender is finally occurring to them in 2018. Perhaps if evangelical hearts and minds had been open to listening to people like Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, they could have been clued in to these problems 55 years (two generations) ago.

    1. Heck, that was closer to THREE generations ago. My 86 year old mother had to deal with those issues working in banking, a then male-dominated profession; she told me “it was open season on women back then”. While I don’t agree with everything brought about by Second-wave Feminism, e.g., nigh unlimited access to abortion services, I have to think those brave women who stood up and said they weren’t going to put up with being relegated to secondary roles and sex objects did millions of women a huge favor.

      My wife, who came up through academia and entered the workforce one generation ago, saw an entirely different world than my mother and had opportunities that never would’ve been available to her were it not for those 1960s feminists fighting for rights.

      The one place where even in my wife has consistently felt marginalized and demeaned, however, even to this day, has been in the evangelical church, where, not unlike the forces aligned against women like Friedan and Steinem, women are too often seen either as temptresses or little girls to be patted on the heads and condescended to. Those are the attitudes that give extremely abusive personalities like, apparently, Hybels, free run. Thank God things are now being shouted from the rooftops.

    2. Yeah, I wonder how much of the current soon-to-past leadership still believes a woman’s place is in the home, married, and submitting to their husband…

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