“Wherever my story takes me, however dark and difficult the theme, there is always some hope and redemption, not because readers like happy endings, but because I am an optimist at heart. I know the sun will rise in the morning, that there is a light at the end of every tunnel.” Michael Morpurgo
Nancy Ortberg was the subject of unwanted physical contact from Bill Hybels.
This morning, Nancy Ortberg posted Flawed Process, Wounded Women on her website. It alarmed me to learn that Nancy Ortberg was also the subject of Bill Hybels’ unwanted attention and actions. I believe her account. When you read it, I think you might as well. Look for similarities with the other victims’ testimonies.
My first international trip with Willow Creek as a staff member was to Tasmania. At the end of the three-day conference a small group of us joined Bill in his hotel room to celebrate a birthday and the conference. As we got up to leave at the end of the evening Bill said to me in front of the group, “Nancy why don’t you stay for a couple of minutes for us to discuss your ministry work?” I immediately looked at the others for how I should respond and one of them smiled and said, “Okay, see you in the morning.”
Awkwardly I stayed and we talked for about twenty minutes. When I got up to leave Bill stopped me at the door and hugged/held me tightly for about thirty seconds. Stunned, I finally slipped my arms up between us and pushed him away. I went back to my hotel room and cried, not understanding what had just happened. Later I did not know how or who to talk to and began to second-guess and doubt myself as to its significance; that is, until years later when I began to hear stories of other similar encounters.
On a subsequent conference trip to Hawaii, I went running with Bill and he struck up a conversation about the amnesiac side effects of Ambien. Having been a nurse, I told him I found it rather odd that he was focusing on one of the more rare side effects, and that he brought it up to me at all. Again, I thought not much more of that conversation until years later when other stories emerged that included Ambien.
I want to express my gratitude to Nancy for coming forward. Having seen some of the comments by WCC supporters left at TWW, I can imagine the pressure and pain that she has had to face with her account. Her courage will be an inspiration many others.
It is now obvious to me why Ortberg not only believed the accounts of the other victims but why she advocated for them. It is also understandable why John and Nancy Ortberg’s relationship with the Hybels took a nosedive.
The Ambien excuse
I think the *Ambien* excuse is important in this account. Was Hybels intimating that “The Ambien made me do it?” Read this account posted by Vonda Dyer. She, too, encountered the Ambien excuse.
Bill called my hotel room in Sweden, in February of 1998, after a long conference day. I was in the bath and my roommate answered the phone. Bill asked her to have me call when I got out. I did, and he asked me to come up for a leadership talk, and told me to come alone. (My roommate confirmed with the Tribune) When I got to the room, Bill had wine opened and waiting. He told me to sit down and put my feet up. He told me he had taken Ambien. He then shared unfiltered thoughts about me, describing in great detail specific parts of my body he liked, and said he thought I was effusive, sexy and had great candor, mentioned what a promising leader I was, and he said,
I think Bill Hybels is an intelligent man. If he was having problems with women when taking Ambien, why didn’t he stop taking it and get help?
Further information about a long term affair with the women who claimed she made it up.
There is more to this story. Ortberg gives us some eyebrow raising information.
In 2014, Leanne Mellado let me know that a good friend of hers had shared a disturbing story. The similarities in these women’s stories were striking. This story involved a fourteen-year sexual affair.
…(2) A face-to-face conversation with Bill Hybels on April 6th. They said they could “look him in the eye and discern if he was telling the truth.”
(3) A fifteen-minute phone conversation, also on April 6th, with the woman who made the confession, who had previously emailed Leanne three times that if her story went public she would deny it.
…The woman alleging an affair with Bill said that she was suicidal, both to Leanne and to Bill. The church Elders allowed Bill to stay in an unsupervised counseling relationship with her, while neither her husband nor Bill’s wife was made aware of the situation.
…Bill also admitted that the woman alleging an affair had spent many nights at the Hybels’ home when Lynne was out of town.
Hybels’ special arrangement with IT without Elder Board knowledge.
I felt something was amiss with the email story when I first heard about it. Emails can be kept confidential with appropriate IT input. Medical records are handled in this fashion. The CIA is able to protect their emails as well. So, why were Hybels’ emails so important that they had to be deleted?
(1) Discovery of 1,150 emails between Bill and the woman over the previous two years. The Elders reviewed none for content.
…At this same meeting, Bill was asked about his “special arrangement with I.T.,” where his emails are permanently deleted on a frequent and regular basis. During that meeting, an Elder told a WCA Board member that Willow Creek had “no document retention policy.” This was the first time either Board had heard about this arrangement, but both of these women told us separately that Bill had told them about this “special arrangement” years prior.
My question for WCC
I believe Nancy Ortberg and I also believe the other victims who have come forward. There are too many similarities between their stories. I am going to ask a hard question. Is it possible that Bill Hybels encouraged the leadership of women in order to increase his own access to women who admired him within the confines of church business, giving him plausible deniability? I do not know the answer to this question but red flags are waving up, down and all around this situation.
Please join me in praying for WCC, the victims, and the leaders. God is always present, even in the hard and dark times. A few years ago, I posted The Aurora” by Terje Sorgjerd. He spent a week capturing one of the biggest aurora borealis shows in recent years. This video was shot in and around Kirkenes and Pas National Park bordering Russia, at 70 degree north and 30 degrees east.
Sometimes you have to look into the darkness in order to see that God is still present and at work.
The Aurora from TSO Photography on Vimeo.
Just published over on Spiritual Sounding Board, a list of key links on Willow Creek/Bill Hybels situation — official statements by individuals and organizations directly involved, Chicago Tribune article series, and other writers (mostly survivor bloggers) who offer summaries, critical analysis, and comments.
Given the complexity and amount of ongoing business involved in a multi-million-dollar, multi-campus enterprise, I would thank that their legal counsel would have ensured that documents (including emails) from all board members, staff, and other employees would need to be preserved, in case of legal/criminal issues arising.
These kinds of document preservation policies are in place to protect the organization. Wouldn’t a practice of permanently deleting emails create potential legal liability for the person and the institution? And could it easily be construed as creating complicity by whoever carried out that demand?
(In a related relevant situation, wasn’t it the tech department that noticed irregularities with messaging from Tullian Tchividjian to women that directly led to the disclosure of his misconduct?)
Willow Creek / Bill Hybels had IT powered by the Ambien Operating System.
‘Was Hybels intimating that “The Ambien made me do it?”’
Ambien or the Devil – it is always Something/one Else’s Fault.
I had the same thought about his promotion of women. Don’t know, but I wonder.
That’s GERMAN Bureaucratic tradition.
This is RUSSIAN Bureaucratic tradition, centered on Plausible Deniability:
“IF NOTHING’S DOCUMENTED, IT NEVER HAPPENED AND YOU CAN’T PROVE A THING!!!!!”
Another #metoo coming forward?
This is starting to sound like Pill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein.
Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Lather, Rinse, Repeat…
Pingback: Some Thoughts on Supposedly Feminist Men Who Reportedly Abuse/Harass Women | futuristguy
It would seem the as yet unnamed individual, reported to have had an affair, has legal claim against multiple parties.
I would assume these claims are multi million.
Near the end of this article, Dee posted this question for Willow Creek Church:
I see this is a crucial issue, and I appreciate that Dee has put it forward for consideration in abuse survivor communities. I’ve been thinking along similar lines for a few days, and its relevance to the question, “How could this happen in what’s been consider a pioneering ‘egalitarian’ church?”
I just posted an article with links to two case studies from the #MeToo movement, one from the entertainment field (Joss Whedon) and one from the skeptics/scientists author-speaker circuit (Lawrence Krauss). These have what I think are some significant parallels from which to consider some larger patterns.
“Joss Whedon Is a ‘Hypocrite Preaching Feminist Ideals,’” according to his ex-wife Kai Cole in her guest post on *The Wrap*
“Lawrence Krauss is a famous atheist and liberal crusader — and, in certain whisper networks, a well-known problem,” according to author Peter Aldhous, in his article on *BuzzFeed*
If interested, I posted more material, links, analysis, and some leads to Dan Brennan’s thoughts on “anxious egalitarianism,” on this article:
Assuming TWW readers have spent some time absorbing background and details about Bill Hybels and the evidence from the women who came forward with accusations, what do you see as possible points and patterns with that case study, compared with those of Joss Whedon and Lawrence Krauss?
My working hypothesis is that any man intent on seduction of women through grooming them for emotional intimacy and/or sexual involvement will sow in whatever field he’s in — and will also create or develop the platform that makes it possible to keep the flow of victims going.
Nancy Ortberg’s post is downright damning, IMO. More of my thoughts here: http://www.divorceminister.com/nancy-ortberg-shares-her-side-rebill-hybels-allegations/
I was extremely uncomfortable with Hybels repeatedly reminding the church he was the one leading the charge to empower women. The focus was wrong and a bit too emphatic for me. These things seem like nitpicking until you have more information. Then they become red flags.
Why was that necessary?
I don’t see how Willow Creek can move forward with the existing board. If I were a member, I would call for a complete replacement. Too many missed opportunities to do the right thing.
It is easy for me to be critical (it may be my spiritual gift) but I do join with Dee in praying for the church.
@ Divorce Minister:
Dee and Brad, have you read my series about Don Hennessy’s work?
Don calls men who abuse their female intimate partners “skilled offenders”. He describes how skilled offenders select, set up, groom, offend against, re-groom and then re-offend against the woman/women they target. And
that their chief goal is to get their sexual needs met without negotiation.
He describes how the skilled offender plans the way he will abuse the woman from day one. In that planning he can do and say things prior to the offence which will give him a ‘get out of jail free’ card later if his offence gets exposed or the target woman overtly resists his abuse.
Hybels’ chief goal seems to have been to get his sexual needs met without negotiation. He may or may not have been directly abusing his own wife, but he surely was abusing the women in his church who he targeted.
@ FW Rez:
Thanks, all! Posting from East China where these kind of things often, ahem, usually get brushed under the carpet.
Reminds me of Bill Gothard and how he gromms and re-grooms his victims too.
Barbara Roberts wrote:
Thanks for the link and summary, Barbara — this sounds like noteworthy research on specific dynamics!
2 comments not approved.
Ok, … So Nancy Ortberg was “fondled’, hugged, touched…. she either did or didn’t inform her husband immediately… 1. Bill Hybels touched me, hugged me… invited me to his room… I left then went to my hotel room and cried….. So both Nancy Ortberg and her husband wonderful teaching pastors stayed on the staff… later resigned to pastor in California…. Nancy Ortberg remains affiliated as a “board member” and husband John Ortberg a prolific speaker, author and leader… continues to return to be a guest speaker at Willow Creek for several years after they left Willow Creek? Ok… what’s wrong with this picture?? At what point did Nancy inform her husband? She claims Bill Hybels brought up the incident in Hawaii about the ‘ambien’…. How would it be possible to remain as a staff member and not address the issue? Was it addressed and ignored by the elders? Did her husband ask her not to say anything for “FEAR” of losing his job? Position? Prestige of Willow Creek? Status? We sat under their leadership at Willow Creek for several years and were sad when the Ortbergs left to California. It never appeared that they were the type of people that would not speak up. They were powerful, influentual, respected leaders. This caliber of leaders don’t just stay quiet…. not for this long……
@ Davis and Natasha:
I agree. This does not quite add up. Seems like a lot of marriages in and around WCC have some awful secrets. And what does Lynne Hybels think about all of this?
Thank you Brad for responding!
FW Rez wrote:
Very true, and far too common: Jerry Sandusky, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, Dr. Larry Nassar, Bill Hybels. Surrounded by sycophants, who knew better. The celebs were protected by their inner circle who went along with the exterior lie of image and performance, hiding ugly dark secrets. “Let’s do church. Let’s pretend we know what we are doing.”
“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” ― Maya Angelou
@ Barbara Roberts:
Thanks, Barbara, for your outstanding work.
Two general statements:
An honest person has nothing to hide and everything to gain and will save things because he is safe in the knowledge that evidence will only prove his innocence.
A dishonest person disposes everything in the hope that nothing will ever be retrieved that reveals his guilt.
This reminds me of Bob Packwood, a former senator from my state.
@ Barbara Roberts:
Bar’s Hennessey series is excellent. I highly recommend it, as well as his book
@ Davis and Natasha:
I don’t understand the focus by this and other commenters on “when did she tell her husband”
Thanks JYJames 🙂
Vonda Dyers says:
” When I got to his room, Bill had wine opened and waiting. He told me to sit down and put my feet up. He told me he had taken Ambien. …
“The next morning, Bill and I were the first ones at breakfast in the hotel. He pulled me aside and asked me if anything had happened. …”
This is classic for skilled offenders!
Hybels told her he had taken Ambien to give himself an excuse for ‘not remembering’ all the wrongs he had done and said to her that night in his room. He wanted to find out if she was still angry with him and what she would do about it if she was.
If she ever blew the whistle on his evil-doing, he had prepared in advance the excuse he would give to the elders in his church: “I had taken Ambien! I don’t have any memory of doing and saying those things to her that night!”
And he could also use the Ambien thing to slander Vonda if she publicly complained about the way he had treated her that night. He could claim that she was making up her story. He could claim she was taking advantage of him (poor man) because she knew that after taking Ambien he might not be possessed of his full faculties for the rest of the night.
What a snake!
What an evil man he is!
Dee and Deb, if you are able, can you please let Vonda know about my previous comment?
I want to encourage her!
I’ve been silently wondering the same. Just listening to Hybels extol the leadership virtues of Heather Lawson (another blonde) was enough to make me wonder, “Is anyone else hearing and seeing this?” His own wife (Lynne) is very different from the women Hybels “mentored.” And I never understood why Hybels did not step down when his wife (Lynne) had a HUGE crisis of faith. She no longer attended church (for at least a year) and she no longer trusted Jesus. But Hybels and Willow Creek kept moving forward. He lied when he told the Monday night Family Meeting that the “unhappy marriage” comment in the Tribune was just the result of a “check-in.”
What if the Elders had sent Hybels home on a sabbatical while they allowed for a truly independent investigation 5 years ago? He could have retired during the Big 40th celebration and the women could have been supported and validated. Now it seems we have a culture of corruption at Willow Creek from the Top-Down. Alway such an emphasis on putting Willow Creek 1st, how about putting Jesus 1st? So much emphasis on “good works” at home & abroad, what about treating your brothers & sisters in leadership with respect that comes from a relationship w/ Christ.
Instead, these women were displayed like his leadership trophies. If any Pastor asked me to have a private, evening chat about “leadership” I would have looked like a leaf trembling in the wind. I cannot imagine the pain, the hurt.
Much Prayer as God makes all things clear. Very sad. Very sad indeed.
Dear TWW readers, I am in Australia so I comment and tweet and post things on FB when you are asleep if you are in the USA.
As a victim-advocate and blogger, I feel isolated because of my time zone. Sigh.
@ FW Rez:
Agreed. Pam Orr and the previous elder (who was on the board as an HR consultant, today he is a Pastor at a Willow Satellite church) should RESIGN 1st. Just Disgraceful. At what point will Heather Lawson realize that Willow Creek needs to over? Steve Carter (Hybels’ hand picked teaching padtor) does not have the best reputation either. Hybels “fell” for him when he was on staff with Rob Bell at Mars Hill EMERGENT Church, in Grand Rapids. Same church where Hybels daughter worked (PR for Bell) and met her husband who was Minister of Music, now in charge of music for Willow Creek. Willow won’t even list Mars Hill on Steve Carter’s website bio.
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Thank you for adding some lightness to this overwhelming news.
Indeed. And similarly for the “individual” when it is a corporation.
But it is also more than ethics here. There is a legal concept called “spoliation of evidence,” which refers to the destruction or withholding of evidence — whether done intentionally or accidentally. And my understanding is that it applies to both criminal cases and civil lawsuits, and in any regulatory actions (like IRS or state Attorney General investigations of corporations).
I’m not a lawyer, but do a lot of research and writing on spiritual abuse and toxic organizational systems. So that’s why I was interested in this concept. Here are some points of summary that I wrote about why this matters:
I did this research a while back, so if I’m remembering right, a few things I read indicated that the evidence destroyed/withheld would automatically be assumed to be against the legal case of those who destroyed/withheld it, and the jury was instructed that they were required to view the situation that way.
So, as with what apparently happened at Willow Creek Church and Bill Hybels having his emails removed, that wasn’t really a great idea. It legitimately creates automatic suspicion, and potential legal woes.
As a p.s. to this, the source of detailed information about the 1,000+ “unreadable emails” and Bill Hybels’ policy of not having email messages archived and his explanation of why comes from the initial Chicago Tribune article. It is in the section entitled, “An inquiry begins,” about halfway down the page.
Perhaps someone with computer/tech background can explain how these emails can exist, but not be read, as the news report says …
I can’t help but see your point here.
Honestly, there is a lot of gossip here and on other social media about all this. So much!
That said, this is all so tragic. There are no winners here. The Devil is destroying yet another church. So sad.
@ Davis and Natasha:
Brad Brucker wrote:
Testimony of victims and witnesses is not gossip. Churches are in the state they are in because they refuse to seek truth and call the words of victims “gossip”.
What I count is as follows:
4 unwanted extended hugs (that’s including Nancy Ortbergs latest revelation).
1 comment about arms
I’m not saying any of that is right.
But that’s over the course of 42 years of ministry!
And people are actually saying Hybel’s being a champion of women was under false pretenses, for Sex? Really? Gossip! Shameful!
I know. Let’s put all our conjecture up about the retracted affair as well. I mean, it makes for good gossip too.
All so sad!
1 Peter 4:8
Brad Brucker wrote:
Perhaps. Or God is discipling yet another church. Who are we to say which it is when somebody lances a boil and the pus drains out; but to continue the analogy the boil existed before the surgeon’s knife got anywhere near it.
I do agree with you, however, that there is enough blame and there has been enough time and somebody should have done something long ago, if that is what you are saying.
Ummm-not exactly. I tried to say disciplining.
It’s harder to sweep things under the rug when internet on-lookers are looking under rugs 24-7. kwim, dees?
Nancy, like Vonda, believed her experience with Bill was an isolated incident. She also questioned her own judgment in whether he was actually being inappropriate. This is VERY common. Because you put so much trust and admire a leader like Hybels, your first instinct is to dismiss anything ‘off’ about them. I know this because I have experienced it myself. No one wants to think their pastor is being inappropriate, so your brain just dismisses it. On the surface, an extended hug may seem harmless, even though deep down it creeps you out a little. Nancy had no idea that he was doing this to other women. Please don’t judge Nancy’s actions – she did what most women would do.
Davis and Natasha wrote:
What is it about these minister and their hugs. A former minister of mine would give the teenage girl side hugs, which put his hand in a place it shouldn’t have been. It came out that he had a child with one lady out of wedlock. I think they all have the same m.o.
Oh yeah. RE got to talking about guys grabbing a boobie feel with side hugs; she thinks it is pretty ubiquitous in the male population. You would think that wannabe preacher boys would be warned off of that in seminary.
Which is why the Internet is SATANIC WITCHCRAAAAAFT and their on-lookers are the WITCHES! WITCHES! WITCHES!
The gossip inspectors have arrived. I wonder when the ‘above reproach’ inspectors will engage and be welcome with open arms; they may want to hurry, as it’s reached the secular media, and they’re not too focused on 1 Peter 4:8.
Brad Brucker wrote:
The church isn’t being destroyed. The church is doing fine. What’s being destroyed is the idol worship of Bill Hybels. He just got knocked off his pedestal and some of his supporters are throwing up their hands in despair. Time for some more sacred cows to get smashed. May God raise up more people like Josiah who tore down the high places and every high thing that exalted itself against the knowledge of God until Jesus becomes the only thing worshipped in the church.
Some years ago on a dictionary of internet slang, “Christian Side Hug” was a term for “non-genital sex intended to preserve technical virginity”.
This was shortly after a truly awful Christianese Youth Group rap number (“GANGSTAAAAAA!!!!!”) called “Give Me That Christian Side Hug” went near-viral. The video is on YouTube:
Brad Brucker wrote:
And Pastor/Apostle’s Passive-Aggressive Attack Dogs (“Tsk. Tsk.”) come out of the woodwork….
Because that’s The Party Line, Comrades.
To me (and probably to a lot of jurors), timely Disappearing of Evidence = ADMISSION OF GUILT.
Like the real estate/mortgage broker years ago who the day before the search warrant came down, backed up an industrial shredder van to their office for an all-day shred-everything party. “WHAT EVIDENCE? YOU CAN’T PROVE A THING!!!!!”
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Pulling the “of the devil card” is vintage playbook…. I have seen it done for over 40 years now.
The difference is the internet makes it much harder to try to shame each of us in person individually.. Blogs such as WW are an encouragement to me…. over my many years associated with fundamenatlist through to “mainline protestant” groups I have experienced “things” “situations”, or told things that seemed just downright “wrong”. However, there is HUGH group think/peer pressure to “go with the flow” and do not rock the boat, by questioning things. Even worse, you can be shamed/shuned, and called “lukewarm” for your honest questioning of what you experienced/think. The Gospels that I read portray a Jesus that constainly questioned the established and told parables about what is “moral” that makes you walk away and think…. and further question..
While WW can be messy, I think most poster here just want honesty, transparacy, and protection/respect of the “weaker ones”. The fact that people post here and not just give up on the church and Christainty gives me great comfort… the NT clearly warns of “false profits” amoung “the brethern” and clearly teaches we should have qualified leaders.
The fact that just a bunch of us posting our opinions on blogs can cause such a ruckus tells me we are touching infected nerves..
“I think Bill Hybels is an intelligent man. If he was having problems with women when taking Ambien, why didn’t he stop taking it and get help?” (Dee)
According to RXlist.com:
“TELL YOUR DOCTOR if you have unlikely but serious side effects of Ambien including:
memory loss, mental/mood/behavior changes (such as new or worsening depression, abnormal thoughts, thoughts of suicide, hallucinations, confusion, agitation, aggressive behavior, or anxiety).”
If Hybels had confessed an Ambien addiction with “unlikely but serious side effects” at the WC family meeting which had caused his occasional bad behavior around women staffers, he might have received a longer standing ovation.
Max, darn! He’s probably kicking himself for the missed opportunity!
Anyone questioning the purpose of this blog should realize that when churches and relgious leaders “put themselves out there” accountabilty comes with that publicity. I had the “Willow Creek model” thrust down on my church over 25 years ago. Further, just Google and do a You Tube search on Willow Creek Church and Bill Hybels. You will be swamped with Williow Creek and Bill Hybels telling us “how to” and their morality. Fine, however, increased accountability comes with this. Does Bill Hybel teach future pastors how to get their IT departments to have “special deals”? My professional organization will not do that… In fact, we are specifically instructed how to “do email” when legally sensitive information is invloved. Does Bill Hybels teach pastors how to get more “friendly” with his staff, but keep it under raps? Does Willow Creek teach leaders how to marginailze church members that do not have the “vision” that the pastor does? Willow Creek has run many many seminars teaching other churches how to impliment the Williow Creek model. Pew sitters paid for these seminars…..
Jeffrey Chalmers wrote:
There’s theory, and then practise. Whatever the intention, both teach.
Davis and Natasha wrote:
Some people stay quiet for too long, even good people. Look at the Stowell family leaving Harvest Bible Chapel as an example of a family who quietly left with dark secrets about a megachurch. It can happen.
I’ve experienced it also—multiple times. You see pastor do something and you know it’s off, but you rationalize it away “I must’ve misunderstood what was going on.” Down the road, you something else, maybe far worse comes up, you think “Oh, pastor, he’s a little quirky, but he means well.” You then experience something genuinely alarming, you think “Well, he’s an imperfect man, but God uses us all, no one’s perfect.”
For most, even for insiders (like I used to be, 2x an elder) it takes a very long time to finally look at things as they actually are and admit “Pastor is not only not a decent guy, but whether he’s aware of it or not, he’s likely sold out to the service of hell itself!” And many of them are, perhaps a number that would shock us all. By the time you get there, you’ve probably already been compromised yourself, you’ve supported a lot of evil things, you’ve shouted down others who were only trying to get at the truth (as I once did, alas…sorry, Adam, you were right and I was wrong, pastor really was up to no good), and it’s not easy to extricate yourself or your family.
And then sometimes, you end up like me: done with it all, the system that props up people with give the title “pastor”, that is like fresh meat to the malignant narcissist. So done.
If they were sent and stored in a encrypted format, then you would need the key to open them and read them. This is exactly what you would expect from some Neo-pharisee trying to hide his sin from the world. You are right, the whole situation smells of cover-up. Only those who walk in darkness need to hide what they are doing. Leaders who walk in the dark are not representing Jesus but rather the same Devil the original Pharisees did.
Law Prof wrote:
“When someone shows you who they are believe them; the first time.” ― Maya Angelou
And then there’s this:
Davis and Natasha wrote:
Please read what I, a former elder, wrote. The way it worked with all of these people is very similar to the way it worked with us. There is nothing wrong with this picture, this is the way it happens. My wife worked for a Fortune 500 and did grad work in the hard sciences, she taught for a Pac12 university, I have taught law in higher ed for 15 years. We are not gullible fools. We were just people who assumed the best of those who claimed to be leading in the name of God. We got in deep, and had a very tough time when we got out. People said the same sort of things about us, people sneered at us, shunned us, surely said “What’s wrong with this picture…” just like you did. We were in both places for years and said little or nothing. Some people, educated people, decent people, never talked. Not a word. When we finally did start talking, everyone called us liars. We experience the aftermath to this day. Please understand that this is exactly the way it usually happens. What they are doing is exactly what someone who has been there would expect them to do.
I’ll assume you mean well and are somewhere back in that stage where you’re still denying. I assume you mean well. But please don’t discard their testimony for the reasons you gave. They are not valid reasons. I know, I’ve been there.
Brad Brucker wrote:
That’s only what’s been reported. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
As this onion is being peeled back, it really gives us an insight into life at the top tier of a megachurch.
Conferences in exotic locales, entitlement, accolades, a volunteer workforce that actually gives you 10% of their earnings. Millions of dollars all. tax. free.
Life is good…until it isn’t.
Christianity is so intertwined with our society as the religion that the majority, if they don’t believe, at least pay lip service to.
The sheer resources at these (mostly) men’s disposal. No wonder they get a God complex.
Maybe they could get Lee Strobel back to write another book – “The Case for Bill”
Brad Brucker wrote:
You forgot naked swimming, shower on the boat, and deleted emails. And conveniently you are dismissing the affair.
Brad Brucker wrote:
Are you so sure it’s the devil? Your man-made system may not have won, but the winner here may be the truth, you know. I’m probably talking to the air, though, because hit-and-run scolds like you seldom have the courage to come back.
@ Jeffrey Chalmers:
“Willow Creek has run many many seminars teaching other churches how to impliment the Williow Creek model. Pew sitters paid for these seminars…..”
Yep and the email deal reminds me of someone else.
Avid Reader wrote:
@ Davis and Natasha:
What would you have suggested she tell her husband? Put it in context and think about such a convo. There are many similar type of things over the years I did not mention. Why?
—Because it was not entirely clear what happened. It’s uncomfortable but is it anything really?
— there was no hostile work environment attached. No quid pro quo to substantiate.
—How does one explain it? Example, ‘why did you agree in front of everyone to stay after everyone they all left,you idiot’. (Because it was awkward to say no and why would I think a great man of God I had known for so long would be creepy.)
—Because your mind tells you this particular man YOU KNOW would “never” so you must be misjudging.
—Because I handled it in the moment (As she did with her push away response to Hybels) And it worked.
—She had no way of knowing of other incidents and we now see why.
—Nothing really “bad” happened. So, Am I over thinking it?, one wonders. So your mind overrides your gut.
—Then the man of God acts as if nothing happened..
So tell her husband what, exactly?
The whole manipulation tactic is a brain gamer based upon the receivers cognitive dissonance. The trusting person is the dupe who was groomed to respond accordingly. But If you make a big deal about nothing, you are the problem.
If there is one thing I find the most comprehensively evil is “manipulative deception”. These people have patience for the long con. Not just anyone can do it well. They gain influence or trust first and then use that as cover for another manipulation “agenda”.
Give me the bellicose jerks any time. At least you know what they are upfront .
Add a “spiritual” plastic Jesus fish to the scenario above and it’s 10x easier to manipulate.
@ Law Prof:
You described it so well. Abuse works on the good-hearted – the ones who are trying to give others the benefit of the doubt, questioning their own discernment, seeking to extend charity.
I know I already plugged Barb’s reviews of Don Hennessey’s work, but I’ll say again – he also describes this process really well (in the context of domestic abuse.)
It’s ridiculous. I looked it up and way down on the list it says “rarely” it might cause some to do things they don’t remember.
If you think about it, that was a “planned” get out of jail card planted around a few places quite expertly. The creep factor never ceases to amaze me. But, years of playing the great man on stage can be a very powerful armor.
at least I’m sort of out wrote:
We can all learn from this and make sure to teach your kids. I outlined above the typical reasons people don’t mention “uncomfortable” incidents with someone they trust or admire.
But telling “someone” immediately might be crucial in the future. It’s evidence. A less intimidating way to do that is a diary of sorts. Email a description of the experience to yourself right away while details are fresh. It’s time stamped documentation. Do it on your personal, not work, email.
Oh yeah. Also…
He might say something like….
So what favor did he do you (that you did not tell me about) that made him think that you owed him?
So what does that say about what he thinks of me that he thinks he can help himself to my woman?
So what ‘leadership’ position are you aspiring to; are you in competition with your own husband (me)?
And what exactly do you think I can do about it at this point?
You have been wanting to run the ad and move on. Is this a ruse to further that idea?
You and who else; or is it just you ‘princess’?
At which she would perhaps be really smart to think that she could handle it herself without causing trouble in her marriage. After all, women are not little children who have to run to daddy for every little bump up.
Second guessing somebody’s way of dealing with their own spouse is usually really wrong. Church people who want to do that with her at this point are way off base.
@ Davis and Natasha:
“We sat under their leadership at Willow Creek for several years….”
There is your real problem, right there. Sit “under” Jesus Christ’s leadership in the future. It’s safer. He never fails you.
My mom was abused sexually. Terrible, terrible thing. She bears serious emotional scars to this day, several decades later. It took her 40 years(!) after the perp’s death before she told anyone. Not atypical.
When you’re the victim of something creepy, such as abuse, suggestive sexual behavior or private narcissistic rage or whatever ugly thing from a pastor who holds himself up as a paragon of virtue, people often feel embarrassed at having been involved in it, even if they had nothing to do with the wrongful actions. They don’t feel like telling anyone, just swallow it and hold it in. Most common reaction in the world.
Anyone who says otherwise or who tries to slam someone for not telling immediately just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Perhaps it’s just honest ignorance, perhaps it’s denial. Whatever it is, it’s wrong-headed.
@ Law Prof:
Bingo. You just described me. But worse. I knew all this stuff from my secular org development career but did not transfer it to the church setting right way. (I do think that helped me collect the red flags sooner, though)
In Megas there are layers upon layers of protective bubble wrap for guys like Hybels. 40 years of it. And everyone wants to work there.
2 comments not allowed. We do not allow rank condemnation of anyone who has been victimized, even if said person doesn’t believe them. I do and I won’t allow this pathetic attempt to hurt another.
WCC defenders. Bill Hybels stepped down. Get that through your heads. If he did nothing wrong, he wouldn’t have done it unless you really buy *he did this to save the church* meme. I have been doing this for 9 years and that is jus plain baloney.
@ Barbara Roberts:
I can assure you that everyone is reading the comments!!! We are the only ones allowing them through even though I am starting to disallow some.
My NPD/Sociopath brother once set up a long con against our stepmother, grooming ally after ally FOR SEVERAL YEARS in his TRVTH! of Poor Poor Innocent Victim of Wicked Stepmother, then hit the detonator (after those several years of setting the charges) at his own wedding, when he invited her (and the rest of the family).
But then, I’m just The Crazy Kid, and he’s always been the Sweet Little Angel.
“For you cross land and sea to make a single convert, only to turn him into twice the Child of Hell as yourselves!”
— some Rabbi from Nazareth
Another case of a desperate preacher caught with his hand in the cookie jar looking for an excuse and sympathy from gullible followers. We’ve heard it before “Drugs made me do it” … “Alcohol made me do it” … “My wife made me do it” … etc. No, the flesh made them do it!
“For the whole world-system, based as it is on men’s primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself.” (1 John 2:16 Phillips)
I have been doing some background checking into this. I am terribly concerned that there is game playing going on here by people who cannot accept that Bill Hybels has resigned and he did so believe there are problems that people cannot accept. I am NOT AMUSED!
This is being dealt with by the appropriate people and I will follow up when I learn more.
To TWW regulars: I am becoming concerned that there will be a full court press by some people. Things are starting to get ugly. Please bear with me. I am going to add one further post that will be two pictures and then I will allow all these posts to stay for comment.
There s more news coming out. Other women are coming forward. I will keep the website updated.
A hint here, a casual comment there, Twenty Chess Moves in Advance.
“Mistletoe killing an oak,
Rats gnawing cables in two;
Moths making holes in a cloak,
How they must love what they do!
“Oh but us Little Folk, we,
We are as busy as they;
Working our works out of view,
Watch and you’ll see it some day!”
— Rudyard Kipling, “The Pict’s Song” (about guerilla warfare)
So I’m now wondering. Since Hybels resigned, a few of the accusers have stated that they did not want it to come to that. So, does that mean the alleged improprieties, at least for them, are not #Metoo worthy offenses? And, are most people blowing this thing up bigger than it is. I mean, one post here put Hybels name next to Weinstien’s. Is that honest? I mean, most say they want the truth. But is that truthful? Just wondering???
Sounds like at least some of the accusers would like to see justice for sure, but also redemption for even Hybels. What I see here is a whole lot of wholesale condemnation.
“By your words you will be justified and by your words you will be condemned” Jesus – Matthew 12:37
JIHAD! has been proclaimed against the Devil and his Witches.
@ Law Prof:
Yep. And sadly most victims spend YEARS time trying to answer the question “why” they were targeted. And ironically, asking that question is “why”. This makes my blood boil. Such a horror of more revictimization.
This is a crucial part of dealing with horrors of abuse. Realizing it WAS NOT YOU. You did nothing to invite such horrors of sexual abuse.
It comes down to the banality of:
You were there (especially for children)
You were a vulnerable target (especially with children)
You were easily manipulated by an evil “expert” (especially with children)
That is hard to deal with. It’s not the victim. It’s the evil person who masquerades as a good person. That’s how they get by with it. And us adults have to learn not to be so easily snookered by evil experts masquerading as wonderful people and pass red flags along to children. There are evil people who look like good people. There just are. Adults need to Stop being snookered by totalitarian niceness. They can protect the vulnerable better if they wise up.
Brad Brucker wrote:
No one I know here has a problem with redemption. What we have a problem with is a man who by his own admission did a lot of untoward things, things that are the very definition of a sexual groomer, and did so behind the scenes while maintaining the aura of one who should be emulated. We have a problem with people who now want to pile on the growing number of women who are coming forward with similar stories. We have a problem with people who just do not care, apparently, that they’re engaging in classic rationalization techniques to minimize something that is quite serious.
I teach fraud for a living, you see, developed my university’s curriculum on it and am at this very moment in negotiation with a publisher to develop a textbook on it. This is kind of my gig, you know. Are you aware, Mr. Brucker, that you are essentially playing with a full house or a straight flush in the rationalization department? You are just nailing it.
Yep, dead on, Lydia.
Brad Brucker wrote:
Okay, now is my choice to reference David. Forgiveness/ redemption for the sinner does not mean acceptance of the sin, nor does it mean deliverance from the consequences of the sin. David’s repentance was a magnificent example of repentance. David’s own relationship with God was apparently restored, David continued to worship the God of Israel-to his death as far as I know. Hooray for David. Glory to God. But David and all Israel beginning at David’s own house bore the consequences of the sin. Even the innocent in Israel lived with the ensuing upheaval.
One does not mess with God and get away with it. Redemption is just that; a snatching away from utter separation from God and a second chance-sometimes a chance to bring down the idolatrous temple of a strange god and die in the process while you stand there blind and in shackles-but restored by God.
We have preached a get of jail free gospel of buy the ticket and everything is as if it never happened. That is a mistake. The gospel includes that in spite of what happened God is willing to forgive and restore the sinner in relationship to God. It does not promise moonlight, roses and a string quartet.
@ Davis and Natasha:
When it’s someone you respect and trust, you don’t expect aberrant behavior and you are surprised by it. Maybe you were mistaken, and maybe it was just a fluke and will never happen again. You also wonder what other people might think of you if you mention it.
I asked my mom once why she endured physical abuse so long from my father, and she gave me similar answers. He would be “better for a while”, and then get physical again. It took her a long time to get up the courage to say enough was enough. Even then, she was ashamed about what happened to her, as if it was her fault. It took a long time for her to get past that.
People not in the mega inner circle world don’t understand it. The people there sold out to it will protect it at all costs. (Hoping they picked the right winning faction)
There will be a full court press to save Hybels “legacy”. Because saving his legacy saves Willow Creek. (Big clue there, folks) And people will do that by making the others, worse.
And whistleblowers are rarely the pristine good guys with no baggage. I don’t have to be a “fan” of Nancy Ortberg to take her testimony seriously. I would have probably rolled my eyes at Vonda on stage in 2003 because I despised the commercial entertainment mega world by then. But what does that have to do with her testimony?
I have long been leery of Hybels (and other mega church pastors) because these guys are basically Christian rock stars and are treated accordingly. That isn’t good for anyone. Ever. If he is sincere about his reasons for “retiring early”, make a very public statement for people to knock it off and let him go away quietly.
I’ve been wondering if church leaders with abusive pastors have become convinced (or have convinced themselves) that
1) Sexual misconduct is somehow rampant among charismatic pastors
2) It’s the “cost of doing business” as a very large or “successful” church
3) Their situation is, as Jack Nicholson’s character says in the movie of the same name, “As good as it gets.”
I’m a pastor and a survivor of emotional/verbal abuse (in a relationship, not in a church), and I can tell you that one of the biggest reasons I stayed as long as I did was because I was convinced that I didn’t deserve better, I made my own bed and had to sleep in it, and that what I got was as good as I could ever hope for.
I wonder if churches have convinced themselves of the same.
This is why I have posted the 1 Tim 5 passage in two threads recently: Just read what the Bible says about leaders and ask, “Is it even possible that God would set these high standards for elders/overseers/pastors and then only give us promiscuous, abusive, and manipulative leaders?”
Of course not. Kick out the immoral/abusive pastors. Call only those whose backgrounds really do show *above reproach* character. Refuse to settle for eloquent lechers.
And I promise: NO ONE was ever saved, in all history, because of eloquence. No one. Not one. Eloquence is a gift from God, but it is only the Holy Spirit working through the folly of proclaiming Christ crucified that ever won a single soul. So call the best pastor you can, but the best pastor is the most Christ-like, not the most TV-ready.
Brad Brucker wrote:
I don’t know that I qualify in your estimation as a person of substance, but I’ve been a reader/commenter on this blog for 10 years and have seen Law Prof’s post for a number of years and know some of his background. So, yes, I’d vouch for his legitimacy.
If you’re interested in seeing whether I qualify, you can check out my main blog to see what I write about.
Or, this particular post on my research blog might be of note — the Pyramid of Abuse and Culpability/Complicity. I developed this over the last 10 years in writing curriculum on addressing systemic abuse.
Catherine-you are in permanent moderation. Be nice and your comments will be let through. 3 comments are deleted. I have already commented on that nonsense that just went up. If you all think that personal shopping is sex abuse, you need to get real.
I have been reading sex abuse stories for 9 years. Surely someone from the WCC trebuchet club could have found somebody better at weaving a tale.
Bob Buckner. 1 comment deleted. You are now in permanent moderation. Try to respond like Jesus might and you will be let through.
Law Prof wrote:
The man who assaulted me regularly made passes at women in public. When I confronted him, most people said I made it up or misunderstood, even though I know they saw him go after others.
BTW, when I confronted him publicly, his response wasn’t, “I didn’t do it”, but “You wanted me to.” A married man twice my age, I might add, who nobody liked. If people doubted my testimony about being assaulted by a guy who publicly harassed women that nobody could stand, then certainly they won’t believe their favored celebrity can do things like that.
As I said before, I think people who disbelieve the testimony of victims are the least credible people in these situations.
a new problem wrote:
I think that’s true for some and not others. I know a lot of people who just want Christian life to be perfect and they will use every type of denial tactic to believe that’s true. I think that’s where you get the people that say reports like this “hurt the church”. Nothing can really tear down the church, as I think it was Law Prof that said, but people can get pretty mad when their fantasy of church and the people that promote that fantasy are shown to be very imperfect.
I am not surprised at all that it will get ugly… There are people that are totaly sold out to “seeker sensitive” approch…. just questioning a “seeker sensitive” approach can bring down a fair amount of “push -back” , heat, and attacks on your “faith”… So, now the geru of it has resigned, over “minor” or mad eup attacks?? You bet it will get nasty..
I hope you are right about this. I don’t want to think poorly of John Ortberg too. And it still doesn’t negate what Bill Hybels did, even if it were to be true.
Right. AT BEST it’s the Tu Quoque logical fallacy.
Really? I wonder if her ‘crisis of faith’ was after finding out about something shady Bill was doing?
And it is *by design*! Creepy hug? Maybe he’s just old. Maybe that’s just how he is. Maybe I’m misinterpreting.
Plausible deniability for Bill. That’s all the ambien defense is too. Which means nothing ‘just happened’, it was planned out and purposeful.
And the devil is not after your church, WC. You had a bad leader, and a bunch of elders who were unwilling to accept that, and call him on it. I’m particularly disgusted by “They said they could “look him in the eye and discern if he was telling the truth.”
No!! What Hubris that is. They need to do some reading.
I know men who are capable of hugging without copping a feel…
I think I said in another thread, there are hugs and there are hugs and we can generally tell the difference.
Dee, is Julie a new commenter here? Just wonderin’
Brad Brucker wrote:
Weinstein Vs Hybels
– Invited women to their hotel rooms
– Used their positions of power to gain access to women who had big dreams
– No longer have their careers as a result of their actions
-Behaviors went on for many years
– A brave woman called each person out, which led to subsequent allegations
– Christian vs. Jew
– Number of accusations (so far)
– Harvey was condemned by Hollywood while Bill received the proverbial Standing O
I had to read this twice. I read it that Jesus was doing the moderating. Dee, I was wondering how you got him to do that gig. LOL
Brad Brucker wrote:
Just a few thoughts.
Redemption. This is largely Christianese. It’s been drilled into our heads and many are convinced if the perp or deceiver is confronted (even years later) they will “repent”. A very misunderstood view of redemption; repentance and forgiveness is taught out there especially in seeker Megas. (Usually seeker Megas go with “you are just human and made “mistakes”” and not “you are a worm so it’s to be expected. Both are the same in outcome). These things are often expected immediately in the Christian world. The mistake people make is thinking everything can go back to normal. Betrayal, trust, etc. it’s all changed.
#metoo. I have big concerns about lumping everything under that umbrella. But we are not talking about the secular world. We are talking about someone very well paid to “teach” Jesus and model that teaching. Big. Huge. Difference. It’s not about perfection but it is about striving to be. That’s why it’s not overblown to discuss patterns of behavior over a 40 year period from different sources about a pastor who spent his career begging us all to “look at me”! Buy my books, listen to my sermons, attend my conferences!
You want to know the “lack of leadership moment” that really stood out to me in Hybels own words? The naked woman swimming around the boat incident he related in a way to make himself appear “understanding” and “concerned” for her welfare. Nope. If what he related is true (and I doubt it) there were bold ways to handle that to ensure a big message was sent and would have served EVERYONE better.
I have other views about “resigning” rock star pastors but won’t go into it now. It’s rarely what people are told to believe it is.
Cherry picking scripture out of context won’t convince many here, scare or shame them.
Julie Anne wrote:
Yes, I am. But I believe the women who have been abused by Bill Hybels are telling the truth.
Julie Anne wrote:
Just a followup to my above comment. Strange things are happening on Twitter on this case. I’m not sure if Julie is a regular or not (I can’t keep up), but a new Twitter account alerted me to that article as well, that is why I asked.
Jeffrey Chalmermes, wrote:
Without ‘gossip’ and people looking out, anyone who has been hurt by church/leadership will simply be driven out, and the whole thing covered up.
Messy as it might be, this is better I think.
Convinced and groomed like Good Little Suckers/Easy Marks.
“Four-One-Nine just a Game —
You be the Mugu; I be the Master!”
— Nigerian pop song about a con man
And Long Prayers will be said for justification.
Julie Anne wrote:
I saw it on the Willow Creek Church Facebook page, and posted it here because I know someone here will get to the bottom of it.
a new problem wrote:
Jude 1:16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
Hybels is spending his time complaining and murmuring against his accusers, rather than taking their contentions to heart, examining himself, repenting and coming clean.
Ok, gotcha. As I continued reading the thread, you did not sound at all like the person on Twitter. Thanks, Julie! I tell you, when someone like BH is exposed, people come out of the woodworks to defend their celebrity hero and attempt to discredit the victims.
Now THAT’s an Easy Mark.
I’ve known Sociopaths who could look you right in the eye and Lie with total open-eyed, butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouth Sincerity. Soon as your back was turned, the mask flipped off like a light switch and there was only the contempt of the Predator gloating over the stupidity of his Prey. Just without a Christianese coat of paint.
i.e. “The Buckner Show has been cancelled; we now return this time slot to the regularly-scheduled Wartburg Watch.”
Nothing brings the True Believer attack dogs out of the woodwork like even the hint of Blasphemy against their REAL god.
Leaders who are ambassadors for Christ can cause “crises of faith” when they break the 3rd Commandment — Thou shall not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
It means wearing God’s name like a banner (CHRIST-ian Leader) and then doing terribly ungodly things that represent Him poorly.
Like adultery, for instance.
Why would a woman follow the same God that her husband says excuses adultery?
Not out of God directly pushing the SMITE button, but that David’s actions set chains of events in action that later came around to bite back HARD.
Amnon: “I WANNA TAMAR! I’M HEIR TO HIS THRONE! HE GOT AWAY WITH IT, SO CAN I!”
Absalom: Avenge his full-sister Tamar; Blood Feud; Honor Killing of Amnon. And once that’s done, the only way to survive is to seize the throne Myself.
For further flow of events, see I, Claudius, Dune, and Game of Thrones.
Last Son Standing? Solomon, Bathsheba’s second son by David.
Who though renowned for his wisdom, had a strong of “Rich Kid with Famous Father” syndrome.
And his successor (and successor’s drinking buddies/dudebros) ended up causing a civil war that broke the kingdom apart. Rags to Riches to Rags in three generations.
Not surprising that you are getting off-colored comments from some WC members. Bill Hybels confessed a few years ago that WC had made a mistake by not encouraging church members to read their Bibles and mature spiritually.
What do you think that Rabbi from Tarsus meant when he wrote “For Satan himself can transform himself to appear as an Angel of Light”?
He was talking about how successful Sociopaths and Swindlers and Abusers are masters of Camouflage (and Misdirection)! We only hear about the ones dumb enough to slip up and get caught!
In Christian theology, the Devil prefers deception and manipulation and the Long Con, NOT the Direct Frontal Attack you hear these days from Spiritual and Cultural Warriors. As we said in Old School D&D about 3rd-level spells, “You can do a lot more damage with one Suggestion in the right place than a dozen Fireballs.”
By your own philosophy of hugging then i would assume that the women who are complaining about Hybels’ hugging behavior also know the difference and therefore they are utterly correct in their objections to his behavior.
Or perhaps some women get hugged one way or the other disproportionately for one reason or the other and therefore complain or not about hugging-ness. How would I know.
Either way, and knowing or assuming all this to be accurate, why would any man have his hands on women in ways that are open to suspicion if they are trying to stay out of trouble, either real or unjustly so accused? How hard is it for men to keep their hands off women in the work environment? If it is impossible for the man to keep his hands to himself, then it is the responsibility of the women to activate their own tell-the-difference perception and act accordingly. Or it could be that he has no civil right so to speak to have his hands on her in the first place and therefore the responsibility to monitor his own behavior is his and not hers.
And why on earth is this even a discussion? Women get to decide if they want to be touched or not, and oh he did not mean anything by should never even have to be brought into play-in the workplace.
I believe the accusers in this case especially since you corroborate that they knew the difference in a hug and a hug.
Interesting, as it goes after comments (he said bad words) and some situations, offering a perspective, all engineered to shape the perspective regarding Hybels.
Yet, if this person is free to say what was done by J Ortberg and offer her (non-intimidated, threatened) perspective on it, how can she conflate that with others coming forward to offer a perspective on their experience? Of course, if there’s some hidden motive of those speaking out, that’s one thing, but as has been said, this is all in the process of getting out after many questions have been raised about what was or wasn’t done with previous accountability procedures (emails, board meetings, etc.)
Thus, this person offering an opinion that things may have been taken wrong in Hybels’ case is one thing, but offering up details/takes on her say-so on action of J Ortberg putting him in less than a flattering light appears at first blush to potentially be from the wagon-circling camp — which in and of itself is why many don’t speak out instantly. And of course, the crisis management priority hangs over all of this.
As I’m reading the comments, it’s becoming evident that there’s something horribly wrong with Willow Creek church. From the website, it’s all sunshine and lollipops but the mask is really starting to slip.
This slavish devotion to a leader or organization is scary and given the size and influence of this church, what are they capable of?
But on the wider scope, I asked the folks a work today if they knew what was happening at Willow Creek. Blank stares all around. Bigger news story is the Humbolt bus crash.
Ultimately only Willow Creek congregants can decide the fate of their church – sad state of affairs with millions of dollars at stake.
It’s like a funhouse mirror of the Christianity I used to follow.
This one is so true. Maybe it’s part of why ‘why didn’t your husband DO *something* (what?)’ bugs me.
People handle things. They think they’ve stopped it. And then maybe they see it happening, confront the guy, he says ‘understood’ and suddenly you and your husband are out of a job. Or suddenly you find out 2-3 (and later 7 or more) women have had similar experiences. And you re-evaluate. It’s so clear how this happened on the women’s part.
Less excusable is the behavior of the elders after it started coming out.
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Just think what you could do with a well placed suggestion after taking Ambien.
“Brad Brucker: Got any other people of substance who would vouch for you?”
How many do you want, Brad? I have plenty of people who’d vouch that I’m often a royal pain in the keester, that I shoot from the hip, that I get downright angry, often in an ungodly way, when dealing with bullies, especially religious bullies, you’d probably find some who’d call me a contentious man, but I don’t think you’d find one of them who’d call me a liar, a sleazy operator, a shifty lawyer type. Not my thing.
” If you (the church at Ephesus) do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” Rev 2:7
I’ve been to Ephesus and it is just a tourist destination. Why is Willow Creek exempt? Time for repentance not damage control.
Avid Reader wrote:
Thanks, Futurist Guy. We still need to get together on that religious research thingie. My bad for not being back in touch with you. haven’t forgotten.
Yesterday evening I was milling through the books at Goodwill. One caught my eye: “Courageous Leadership”. I looked down at the author. Why it was Bill Hybels! I have to think, absolutely have to think, that a courageous leader sure would’ve done things differently in the last month, whether Hybels is totally clean and all of these women leaders in the church and old friends of Bill are part of a vast conspiracy to destroy Bill Hybels, the righteous man, or if Hybels is dirty and all along was an abusive sociopath and terminal liar.
Either way, doesn’t matter. We have not seen courageous leadership. If someone thinks so, tell me how.
I go even further with it, Jack. It’s the whole structure of “the godly pastor on stage” week after week. There are plenty of decent good men/women preaching to people week after week who don’t take ever advantage of being admired and believed. I grew up around some. We were in each other’s homes all the time. We saw the dirty laundry, the rebellious child, etc. normal life stuff. That is more unusual these days. But, still I try not to broad brush.
But it is the structure, really. Is that structure really the best way to know Christ? To fellowship with other believers? Does it lend itself to the overall problem? . Why the need to put pastors in a special untouchable category? And worse, to make rock stars of them?
I know this sounds harsh but it’s not—because I am guilty, too. Those of us in the pews and on staff are at fault. These things don’t work without followers and their money. Did we demand transparency? To be in on developing and overseeing the budget? (That last one is pure fun in a mega church because you have to trust the elders/boards. I double dog dare every Creeker to demand to see a detailed budget. Every dept, every spin off ministry, with line item salaries. It’s YOUR money they use. You are accountable)
What is the Body of Christ? That is where I had to start over.
And it’s worse for ‘Christian’ rocks stars, because nobody spiritualizes your regular rock band, and expects them to be perfect. You expect typical bad rock star behavior, more likely, because that’s the norm. So pastor rock stars are way more dangerous.
*”Bill also admitted that the woman alleging an affair had spent many nights at the Hybels’ home when Lynne was out of town.”* (from the Nancy Ortberg post)
Bill’s own admission appears to have been made at a “meeting with certain Elders and Willow Creek Association Board members”. The existence of an impartial documented history of 2 years worth of 1150 emails between Bill and the other woman is stark corroboration.
Do adults really need to know the details of the sleep-overs or the email content before drawing a conclusion?
In my opinion this is sufficient proof to logically and reasonably conclude that Bill Hybels is guilty of clergy sexual misconduct and adultery, over an extended period of time. In light of the testimonies of additional women who suffered his unwanted attentions, the only remaining question is how many women were victimized and how long has this been going on.
Law Prof wrote:
🙂 No worries. We’ve both been busy with writing projects and many other things.
@ Law Prof:
Your experience fits my own. Same play book.
This will sound horrible to some but I never understood the overall hug culture. If it is seeing a good friend after a long time, a family member, etc, understandable. But at church with people you see week after week? People you work with? Your boss? Can’t people be sincere and caring without all that? It’s very complicated. I have heard sermons on the side hug. Then I started questioning that after quite a few!
Love this. Enjoy
So, I have having network issues, and a IT person is working on my computer. I mentioned how I recently read of a church where the IT had a deal with pastor to delete specifically his e-mails… I laugh and say fat chance I can get him to do that for me! And his comment is “A church? i can not think of any good reason the pastor would want that!” …. sigh….
I agree. I don’t like people hugging me. I don’t care if it’s what you like to do. It may not be what everyone wants, even if it is innocent.
But I can certainly tell when a guy does it to cop a feel.
There’s been so much of this lately that I think (hope!) there will be a pendulum swing away from megachurches. I think people are starting to realize that even if someone starts out with good intentions, when they get power and money, they tend to be corrupted.
I was contemplating a megachurch model the other day where teaching pastors had “term limits” or rotating speakers. I’d just as soon do away with megas altogether, and I doubt anybody would even try either, but it might be better than placing the popularity of a church on a single person.
It’s the attempt by pastors to “do life together” and facilitate relationship-building which will then hopefully anchor the visitor to the church and reduce dropouts and increase retention rates. It’s the same thing my university wrings their hands over. I sat on a committee for two years which did nothing but brainstorm ways to increase retention rates and decrease progression time through our programs—our biggest nightmare was the student who didn’t get connected to some group, we knew they were likely to get lonely, drop out, go back to their hometown and become a settled-in townie.
And there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with that in the proper context. The problem is when the church becomes just like the world, when it’s a big organization with huge budgets and building programs and long-term goals and plans and a big stage with spotlights and a pastor who’s a celebrity and whom very few people know, save for the 45 minute public show/motivational speech every week (or far less than every week, if you’re Robert “The Hairdoo” Morris), people have an average drive of 30 miles to the sanctuary and what has been created is so artificial that the church leaders must create these artificial means to patch some fake “community” thing together so the whole works remains a going concern, what with the bills to pay and all those families dependent on those salaries. Megachurch pastors have big institutions to feed as well: huge entities that gobble millions a year, maybe hundreds of millions. The beast must be fed.
I am quite curious what nonsense what posted now, because what?!
Good grief, until this minute I had no idea there was such a thing as a hug culture. Thank goodness at least that at church when we pass the peace we literally clasp a hand briefly and say ‘peace’ (literally that) and this is the entire procedure.
But I have not noticed any hugging at the hospital or at any doctor’s or dentist’s office. Parallel universe I suppose; different set of rules most likely. At CertainPublicSchool kids have been caught in the rest room actually having sex as well as dosing on drugs. I pray every day for you-know-who to be able to find a way out of teaching which did not result in poverty. Enough is enough. Not that hugs are linked to drugs; I am just meandering.
Actually, hugging creates a release of oxytocin (also known as “the cuddle hormone”) in the human body, which can artificially create a sense of trust and closeness. Hence, it is easier to build a close-knit cult of people who really don’t know each other that well.
Well, yes, absolutely. I was speaking more generally, I don’t hug men at work! I think I hugged my coworker of ten years when he retired…
@ Law Prof:
Paul actually recommends we “greet one another with a holy kiss.”
The issue is the “holy” part.
A high five or handshake can do the same.
My bad. A quick glance at google and apparently hugging is drugging when it comes to the brain. Glad I found that out. One of the grandkids hugs on the yorkiepoo all the time. That has got to be trans-species perversion right there. Got to stop that! Wow. Thanks for the info.
I do wonder what the men exchanging holy kisses in bible times did for their brains.
Does anybody know how much hugging it takes to facilitate which feeling, assuming that the response is does related?
dose. dose. not ‘does’
I think it compounds the problem when so many mega churches are unaffiliated with a denomination and/or have sprung up and had only ONE pastor (or ‘lead’ pastor) for their entire church history. Older churches tend to have better systems in place for transitions and maybe enough history to understand that a church is not one man.
“Brothers Don’t Shake Hands, Brothers Gotta Hug.” — Tommy Boy
No wonder it’s Rated PG-13
it’s definitely legit and very well written
As I said, I don’t hug people at work. That seems inappropriate.
But friends I hug more frequently, family, etc. I think there can be a benefit when many people have a genuine need for human touch. If you aren’t getting that from family, church and friends might conceivably help meet that need.
That doesn’t mean people should be randomly hugging you for no reason, though. If you aren’t a hugger, you aren’t a hugger. I don’t hug random people, but it doesn’t bother me, unless it twitches over to creep territory…
@ Law Prof:
Ok. Your comment covers a lot of ground I am all too familiar with. I scream “enough” already. I saw this in mega churches and just about every secular organization I was in. Why is it people cannot just go to work,college, etc, without the social safety net of artificial group belonging?
If you ever get the chance —find the book, Corporate Cults.
Written in 1999! My team of outsourced profs, quality tech people saw it, too. The question is why? It was a constant topic from a social psychological view. What happened to people? Is it the lack of family having your back?
It all led me to focus on several things with the kids:. Know who you are. Learn to be alone with yourself. Learn to value yourself. Be an individual. Or even an outlier, if need be. If you have to go along with the silliness (never with evil) make sure you are being paid. Don’t allow it in your personal life. You will eventually find like minded people. And influence a few. But only a few. It’s what someone mentioned in another thread about 75% of people “go along” with whatever —to be accepted.
Hugging spouse and kids a lot is good. It’s up to friends what they do. That isn’t what I was talking about and I should have clarified. It’s The guy at church who wants a side hug. Or the colleague. Or your friends husband.
And I admit to being raised that public displays of affection between adults was not the best as it might make some uncomfortable. Old school stuff.
You gotta really watch out for people who hug themselves. 🙂
Yes, there is a hug/cuddle culture that has science backing it. Young people are buying cuddle items. There are “cuddle” friends. Its a thing now. It goes with “safe spaces” at college. Never being “offended”.
And yes, I cuddled our dog as a little girl. How is that not normal? My mom would come up to my room and cuddle while we talked when I was little and not so little. How is that not normal?
It just did not need to be a science or a manufactured event.
Barbara Roberts wrote:
Barb, I must say, you have this amazing gift of being able to cut through a person’s (premeditated) bullpoo. From all angles. Thank you for sharing your analysis of this!
Oh, absolutely. People’s boundaries and privacy should never be breached unless specifically ‘invited’ or ‘welcomed’ to do so one way or the other. That is not old school. That is common respect for other people. Honest to Pete until this very discussion I thought that this was just the way that decent people behave.
I only hugged a co-worker once. His wife had died rapidly of inflammatory breast cancer and we were at the funeral home for visitation. As we passed through the line I asked him if he would like a hug and he said he would. So I hugged him. I hug relatives and near relatives depending on the situation-like somebody is dead. This is just how we do; I don’t know. Little children they say do not like to be hugged by the old people so I don’t do it. High five, yes, hug no.
If that were odd then I would change, but like I said that is just how we do. Like they say, to each his own.
I was joking about the dog. I actually thought it was funny. Sigh.
Oh dear. I treated my childhood dog like a doll. There are films to prove it. Should I be worried? Hee hee.
How many times do you think it needs to be posted?
There is really not a comparison to what the two men did. Think about it.
I think you have to either ask, as okrapod mentioned, or kind of read the room. Kids will tell you straight up, but I kind of treat them like stray cats and let them come to me! Anybody who doesn’t respect your boundaries, whatever they are, is suspect. Of course, some people, probably many people, will do things just for politeness sake. I thought it was weird when my friends dads would kiss my cheek but I recognized that was a cultural difference really and let it be. (none of them did it in a bothersome way, I just wasn’t used to it)
Sidenote: My (female) cousin took it personally one time when we side hugged her instead of a full hug!
I definitely have pictures of my cat as a kid dressed up in doll clothes looking not super happy…
I also freely admit to hugging my cat till she meow’s at me to let her down.
But if true it is still not honorable behavior.
I know that unwanted full frontal hugs was a part of abusive pastor’s manipulations of women in a small rural church. They were belittled and mocked if they tried to set boundaries or said they preferred not to be hugged. It can be such a power deal included in lots of other power moves by the evil ones well regarded in church.
No. It’s not. Timing is interesting. To teach Nancy a lesson with deflection? To get them on the defensive? I am still looking for the benefit to Nancy or the others for speaking up—at all.
My problem with all of this is that I am no fan of or apologist for mega churches or mega stars of any stripe. Including the Ortbergs. But long ago, I realized that these situations are not made up of clear white/black hats. If there is a 40 year pattern of behaviors, it doesn’t matter. This is church. Not the courtroom.
I suspect (although I don’t know for sure) that a hug creates a higher dose of oxytocin. I suspect there are nefarious folks who prefer hugging all genders to shaking hands, as hugging males, as well as females, gives them plausible cover when they go for the non-righteous hug with a female (saying, “I hug everybody!”) Plus, research shows that women (generally) are more influenced by touch, as they have higher releases of oxytocin when hugged than males and even have a more dramatic willingness than men under those circumstances to give someone their money. Sadly, I feel confident that this has not infrequently been engineered by the profiteers running these circus-show churches.
psychology today says that ‘When we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels increase; hence, oxytocin is often called “the love hormone.”‘
I doubt you get the same affect from creepy weirdo hugs.
Law Prof wrote:
Is that one of the reasons Student Centers/University Unions include Mall Food Courts and all the amenities of a high-end cruise ship? First-run movies, gym memberships, bowling alleys, rock-climbing, restaurant franchises, lotsa merch & swag, all for a simple swipe or tap of your card (or phone app) charging each and every tap/swipe to your student loan?
And don’t forget:
He got GAWD on his side…”
— The Eurythmics
@ Headless Unicorn Guy:
Exactly. That group togetherness thing costs big time.
I suspect one does not not from creepy hugs, but research shows it is true in more ambivalent hugs, or hugs where someone is already inclined to have even a small degree of trust (e.g. toward a fellow parishioner or perhaps esteemed clergyman?)
Does this have any bearing on whether or not Bill Hybels was a sociopath, an abuser, a phony, a hypocrite, a philanderer? If John Ortberg was a heel, I don’t see how that has any bearing on the situation. Hybels either is, or is not, rightly accused. Whether anyone associated with any of his accusers is a jerk or not, I fail to see the point—unless, of course, the point is to smear whoever accuses him so that people will think twice before bringing forth any more stories.
Incidentally, I am sure there are many nuances to the science, and I make no claim to be an expert. I do, however, see how the dastardly could try and use the physical emotional responses to size up or groom a potential victim. So sad that we are talking about this within the context of the pulpit!
Not at all but this bit sums up Hybels “Leadership” acumen we used to make fun of in the 90’s. He was the it guy on leadership in those circles for some reason. (Keep in mind I was having a hard time mapping that organizational understanding of leadership to ‘servant of the Body of Christ’ in those days)
Jodi goes for the jugular-
“You don’t remember Bill “grooming” you? I do. After you were told by Bill that you dressed like a “college professor” and needed to dress appropriately for your position, I was the one asked to get you new clothing. I bought pants, shirts, belts and sweaters and you picked what you wanted and paid me for those items. 34×34 pant, right? It was humbling for you, but there was nothing inappropriate about Bill trying to guide your whole self as an up and coming leader. Only saying he did that for women sounds creepier, but he actually did that for everyone he was mentoring. Trying to encourage and create the best in everyone.”
Wonder who taught Billy to dress like a “leader”. This is so typical mega. She uses “grooming” quite cleverly. I bet she had help.
Don’t work for Megas, folks. They are pits of mass deception and subterfuge.
there was nothing inappropriate about Bill trying to guide your whole self as an up and coming leader.
I though this was sarcasm but maybe she really was arguing that Bill should have that level of influence on anyone-let alone everyone he was “bringing along.” yikes! Boundaries, anyone?
That ambien thing sounds like plausible deniability, doesn’t it?
As for the hug thing, & why didn’t Nancy Ortberg say something…well, for a year or two now, my Christian neighbour, who I’ve been friends with him & his wife for about 25 years, has been giving me lingering hugs, which end up with his hands resting on my lower back as often as he can when he drops into my house, he’s made a few inappropriate comments about my breasts (they are a standing joke amongst me & my friends as I’m a buxom lass), often tries to rub my shoulders as he knows I have shoulder issues…& you’re the first people I’ve told. I could be misconstruing everything & he may just be being over-sympathetic to me as a now single woman, trying to be nice, trying to be helpful (which he is to everyone). Who would I tell? I have scolded him & tutted at what he’s said & jokingly just gone ‘go on , get out of here’, but I’d never tell his wife & risk that blowing anything in their family up. And I’m 49, a loudmouth, professionally trained in safeguarding…& so on.
Nancy’s story is not outrageous to me. Who wants to stir that pot over something potentially ambiguous?
NB If anything uncomfortable happens again I will be saying something clearly to him & asking him to mind his manners.
Recently posted by the Chicago Tribune, which has tracked this story since breaking it in March: “Two publishers suspend publication of books by megachurch pastor Hybels in wake of misconduct allegations.”
April 13, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #5, by Manya Brachear Pashman. Tyndale House Publishers is suspending publication of a forthcoming new book from Bill Hybels, and InterVarsity Press is suspending reprint of one of his books. His third publisher, Zondervan, has not yet responded to inquiries.
I find it ironic Jodi thinks she is helping Billy. She is exposing the bizarro world of mega churches. Too much time, money and hero worship. And jet setting.
I found Jodie Walle comments very interesting, and did help me to understand the culture. Wondering if the old frog in the pot was happening at the church, including John Ortberg. Put a frog in a pot,with boiling water and the frog knows to jump out, but if the water is a slow boil, the frog with stay and finally be boiled. All that to say, once these people leave WCC they realize the atmosphere there was not right, and yes this would include John Ortberg as well. Sounds like he at the time did some things that outside of context would be perceived as unwise with co-workers.
LOL – I sure never did on the few creepy weirdo hugs I was subjected to!
Law Prof wrote:
Make an Example of one, and a hundred will fall right into line, bleating praises.
Plus overtones of the old attorney’s way to defend against a rape charge: Discredit the Victim making the accusation. Paint her as crazy, vindictive, or “loose”.
No, but not on the same level at all.
No boundaries at all.
Kudos to these two publishers. In the meantime, Crossway is still publishing and selling C.J. Mahaney books.
They get it. There’s something to these accounts.
Publishing is a major part of a celebrity’s platform. It’s a very reasonable step for Mr Hybels’ publishers to at least suspend his books until a more independent investigation has been completed.
And David C Cook did not remove Tullian Tchividjian’s books at the time, though when I checked just now, it appears the only one they carry is the biography of Billy Graham for which he wrote the foreword. If they’ve discontinued publishing/reprinting his works, they did so without any public notice that I’m aware of, and would’ve taken them well over a year.
And Crossway/CJ Mahaney …
And Charisma House/new Mark Driscoll book …
Complicity loves company.
Thanks Dee. Because TWW doesn’t have a ‘tick the box’ to be notified of future comments, and because my comments seem to go live straight away, I have often felt unconfident that the TWW team or people I have replied to in a comments thread at TWW have noticed my comments.
I would love TWW to enable me to get email notification of new posts and new comments on a thread I have commented on. …. but I know you don’t have that set up…
Ever thought of switching to WordPress? Hint hint.
Driscoll will do quite well in charismatic ranks. He “sees things.”
@ Clockwork Angel:
Thanks Clockwork Angel! I’ve learned how to see the tactics of abusers because I’ve been listening to the victims of domestic abuse for years, am a survivor of CSA and DV and spiritual abuse myself… plus I’ve read many of the statements which perps make when their sins are called out and exposed…. plus I’ve read very wise authors like:
Don Hennessy an relationship counselor in Ireland who has worked for decades in the field of domestic abuse.
Sam Powell and Jeff Crippen who are a pastor who *get it* about abuse.
Dr George Simon Jr a clinical psychologist and writes about character disorder, manipulative personalities and malignant narcissism.
And of course, The Bible.
Nothing substitutes for diligent study and wide reading. Many folks seem to focus on the ‘shock horror’ when yet another wicked man is exposed. I try to look for the patterns and tactics of the perps and their enablers. I am all for systemic analysis and the big-picture view. Hence, I like Brad Futurist guy’s work, though I do find it sometimes too intellectual for me!
30 seconds, if it was really that long, is a very long time for a hug. That length is reserved for the husband/wife relationship, comforting someone, or greeting someone close whom you haven’t seen in a long time.
I know in some places and countries, it’s cultural, but in general, hugging between men and women in the U.S.–in workplace situations esp.–is not considered appropriate or professional
@ Law Prof:
It has bearing but perhaps not in the way that Jodi intends.
What she’s done more than anything is reveal that Willow Creek had/has a culture and work environment that is not guided or governed by wise, common-sense policies or practices for accountability–especially when it came to male-female relationships.
This is going to get ugly.
People of Willow Creek, save your church by demanding resignations from he full Elder Board and lead pastors. This is going to get worse before it can get better.
The contents might be encrypted, and, if a key used to decrypt them is lost (or not handed over), they aren’t readable. The term sometimes used is “secure email”. The headers which won’t be encrypted give info on sender and recipients and dates. Where I work we are required to use the company secure email system if sending high or moderate risk information (e.g., social security numbers, credit card numbers, student records, health information). This is centralized and IT probably has a means if necessary of reading the email (though it probably requires fairly high level authorization). However it can also be decentralized and setup so that only the sender and receiver can read and no backdoor (and even they can’t read if they lose the keys).
Yes, we left HBC ourselves. We weren’t leaders, but we can tell you re: Stowell and many others that they leave and say nothing or little to protect their own reputations and future work in ministry. I don’t fault them for that, but it’s what happens. In this day and age, no one wants to get their name caught in the tangled web.
Are you saying that letter posted was well written? The one about J. Ortberg?
Thanks Erp — that is *very* helpful information!
As we’ve seen in recent years, email and other digital documents have become important sources of evidence in various kinds of disputes and court cases.
You’re not alone Lyds. To me it’s a faux and phony culture that can’t get over itself.
The new letter to John Ortberg is a farce and anyone who has been a victim advocate is aware of it. Shame on all who participated in this. Bill Hybels stepped down. he did so because there were problems and he knew more would come. He got out of Dodge and left people behind to pick up the pieces.
It was not well written It was a farce and all those behind it need to get a reality check. This was a joke which proved how few people at WCC understand sexual harassment. There is a reason that big names get away with so much. These people are the living proof.
Bill Hybels has stepped down. He did so for a reason and it is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Publishers are pulling back for a reason. This was not about a long hug. This is about strange behavior which was tolerated because one guy knew how to build a church and bring in money. This is not Christianity. This is MBA stuff. How to build a corporation in 5 easy steps. Read the books and follow the formula. It works but is it the faith?
It is hard enough fighting rampant sex abuse in churches. But it is even harder when those left behind form a militia to hunt down and fire at anyone who dares to question the paradigm. People have been had. They are in denial. But eventually they will wake up to what happened and it will not be pretty when nice people realize that they have been manipulated and used.
Law Prof wrote:
Wow. I think we have lived the same life.
“As I said before, I think people who disbelieve the testimony of victims are the least credible people in these situations.”
You make a valid point, ishy. And those who go on to attack the victims are generally clueless as to what the bible actually teaches.
That’s the thing; note the commonality of the golden parachute disembarking in these cases. If the situation at the top remains insular, one doesn’t find out what friendly financial terms are struck, and before you know it, the heat dies down and the PayPal accounts go live for those not of retirement age, and the book deals resume for them as well as the retirees.
The issue with that is that it’s not like the secular world, in which after perps have done their time, they can make a living in their field of avocation (though in the case of fraud perpetrators and/or crimes with victims, future funds may be diverted to said victims). The issue with those who had represented themselves before God and man as being in a place of spiritual authority — with the responsibility to be above reproach — often have escaped civil or criminal conviction or any sort of permanent admission of guilt or shortcoming for which repentance is called. The worst that often has happened is some vague mumbled half-apology or copping to a general misunderstanding. Thus, the cottage industry that often accompanies or is an integral part of their ministry (sic) glides on, and the supposed spiritual.authority who is moving on is positioned to escape consequences and true rebuke.
Forgiveness after repentance is one thing (and a rare thing if someone never actually admits to anything beyond a “mistakes in judgment were made” public spin). However, for people like those profiled on this site who have fallen short in protecting those under their charge (say, by covering ups their own misdeeds and/or crimes or those of others) to reemerge in a place where they again wish to wield spiritual authority (by starting another ministry (sic) in which they assume spiritual leadership or selling books advising ‘sheep’ on spiritual matters — seeking funding from said sheep in each case) is massively troubling.
I was so sorry to learn about all of this yesterday and Willow Creek Church. On our travels last summer one of the ‘high points’ for my husband was to attend Willow Creek Church. My husband was so proud that he got to met ‘the Bill Hybels’ and was so happy that he got to talk to him and have his picture taken with ‘Bill Hybels’. This is ALL so disappointing and disheartening. If you can’t trust your pastor who can you trust? “To all those women that have been psychologically damaged, what a needless tradegy”. My heart goes out to you, all of you, by coming forward you have contributed to breaking this cycle of abuse. One more narcissistic, egotistical, Out of control, self-serving man in a position of trust has been stopped in his tracts. This has not only damaged women but also affected men, like my husband, who looked up to Bill Hybels as a positive role model. It is a sad day for others in a position of leadership at Willow Creek to have been slow to address this and take definitive steps against it early on! My assessment is that the entire leadership there at Willow Creek needs to be held accountable and the base must face this issue with appropriate consequences. The whole church is in our thoughts and prayers.
Betty Armour wrote:
The answer is quite simple. You can trust Jesus and He is your perfect role model. He is loving and gracious and is you biggest fan!
Pastors are still afflicted with sin as is everyone. When we overlook this, we open doors for people like pedophiles and other predators to enter the church and carry out their dark deeds.
Have you ever watched the news when the police pick up some guy who is a pedophile and all the neighbors say “But he was so nice. he shoveled my walkway and came to the neighborhood potlucks?
A seminary student molested a bunch of boys at my former church. Everyone liked this guy and a group of women didn’t want him to go to prison because he was so nice. Heinous, but nice…
I have recently become Lutheran. The Old Lutheran website has a bunch of shirts and coffee mugs with the word “saint” on one side and “sinner” on the others. The term for this is “Simul Justus et Peccator.” That is me, that is you and that is everyone else. Keeping this in the forefront of out thoughts should help us from becoming disappointed when another pastor is caught.
Betty Armour wrote:
You summed up my whole opinion of this mess. Well said, Betty!
Barbara Roberts wrote:
We notice them! I’m thinking of 2 comments right now from over a year ago in which you reposted comments you attempted to post elsewhere. Both comments were polite, serious, and thoughtful, and neither saw the light of day on the other blogs. One was at the Heidelblog about Tom Chantry and one at the Wee Flea about Iain Campbell, and both bloggers were commanding readers not to gossip, slander, or even form an opinion because we don’t know anything, and maybe we don’t even WANT to know anything.
That was the exact thought I had while walking the dog this morning! At one mega, the pastor’s alleged other woman was the missions director. So they were flying around the world together living it up on the giving units’ dimes. I happened to meet the other woman’s husband, and I suppose the megapastor considered him a type C or D leader and didn’t often invite him along.
I hope that you are correct that what was stated by “Jodi Walle” is not true. Do you believe it is someone posing as her, or do you think she is in on it? After all that Nancy Ortberg said, I would hate for her husband to have behaved like that, even if it isn’t as bad as what Bill Hybels has done.
You are so right. Other WCC members are posting this letter on fb. I don’t understand the purpose!!!!! It is as if they are trying to say…”see! Bill did nothing wrong at all!” I don’t know how to respond to the letter. Certainly if Jodie is on staff currently, she needs her walking papers today!
Lydia, many have long suggested such things, but are officially scoffed at and rejected as conspiracists. Fact is, mind control has been extensively researched, and is helpful in nearly any institution, be it a corporation, university, athletic team, military unit or, yes, church.
It is when people naively do not realize that ‘everyone has an agenda’, not to be cynical, that they fail to ask important questions and perform essential (to them!) analytical thinking. For most organizations, hard questions and analytical thinking is NOT desirable, as it will almost always challenges the official orthodoxy and might even unmask hidden agendas.
Why? Has anyone complained about inappropriate behavior from John Ortberg?
I don’t know if you have any experience with megachurch staffs or not. But if you read Jodie’s clever rant, take ortberg name out of the picture and just think about what the culture was like there. All the retreats, big brother making sure you attend mid week activities (I know of some megas that were playing around with a card swipe for staff to make sure they were attending services and staying), the need to be cool, your personal assistants doing your clothes shopping, etc, etc. These things were the normal and the personal assistants was more than happy to go along.
But she was trying to equate her comraderly relationship with Ortberg the same as women who have come forward concerning hybels Behavior.
I get what you are trying to do and you’re very good at it. It’s called passive aggressive and deflection. I will tell you that the deception factor and the manipulation that went on with mega church staff is why I am not very understanding about anything that happens in them. I don’t see this issue is white or black hats. Most of these people have no clue they are in a thought reform situation until they get very far away from it. It’s their normal.
I am an infrequent commenter here, but have been following the WW for years.
What BH did is reprehensible. He’s clearly a narcissistic predator, and I feel so horrible for his victims, his family, and especially those for who the spell hasn’t been broken yet and whom he will continue to abuse.
The elder board and staff who enabled him are equally bad. I hope they will be held accountable and step down.
That said, I am still very thankful for the work of Willow Creek. I’m thankful they embraced egalitarianism and led the way with women in leadership. I know it’s not popular here, but I’m also thankful for their seeker sensitive approach. As someone who didn’t grow up in the church, I see the deep value of it. Many friends of mine wouldn’t have been willing to come to church (and eventually come to Christ) without the rock worship band and friendly-to-outsiders sermons. Of course, you have move people beyond that into a mature relationship with the Lord and some megas neglect this.
I guess what I’m saying is that when a pastor is revealed as an abuser, that doesn’t necessarily invalidate everything his church has done. I’m probably sensitive about this because I’ve seen the “this is what you get for being an egalitarian” on social media and it drives me nuts. I can’t deny I have been blessed by WC and the GLS.
Everyone who is still there from the elders to the lowliest either thinks like this or doesn’t dare open their mouth. Jodi may get extra points for a time for her clever rant but if this thing goes south she will be the first to go. Remember Bill hybels stepped down. We still do not know what that really means. And my guess is the elders don’t know either. This is Uncharted Territory for them. WC is Hybels no matter how much they protest. And if it gets really bad the staunch hybels factions may end up being ousted.
When the founding big cheeses are gone (sorta) the factions start forming. Most Pew sitters won’t have a clue it’s going on but the staff is definitely affected. Jodi may want to keep her resume refreshed.
Very valuable comment. This is part of the problem that the #metoo movement does not address. At times I have even wondered if it is not even being used to distract from addressing the root of the problem. Note how often those being accused are the ‘old dogs’, gone or soon to be gone from the public eye anyway. Scapegoats?
What needs to be addressed is that this is not a matter of somehow eliminating the existence of random perverts, as if such a thing were possible. The task is to not establish and maintain environments where such people can abuse without danger of being held accountable. No one, from the janitor to the CEO, can be deemed ‘off limits’ to the moral and ethical demands of respect, decency and appropriate behavior.
That this has to be explained in ‘The Church’ is unbelievable.
Everything is about Conformity today. Even the word Unity really means conformity. A lot of people find security and safety in that. It’s not great for innovation.
Very important points made here.
Unfortunately, some of us are coming to the conclusion that this is what much of ‘The Church’ really is: a thought reform institution. Serving whom? God is not in the business of secretly brainwashing and subtly mind controlling people. Actually, those are the tools of the enemy, formerly called ‘deception’ and it is THAT which God desires to rescue us from.
In my opinion, much of the so-called church, admittedly unbeknownst to most of those involved, has been turned into a mind control, thought reform, get out the Republican vote institution. The important thing is to get people on the bandwagon, and manipulate them to maintain their undying love and loyalty. It isn’t even that hard.
Well, to show you how prophetic I am, I predicted years ago that most mega churches would be car lots or community centers by now. I underestimated their ability to constantly reinvent themselves to keep the money flowing. Many of them rented out old Walmart stores and added satellite campuses with downlinks. A cheap way to expand. I know of one drawing up plans for an old fashioned Chapel complete with a steeple to put on their campus for those who prefer smaller churches. It never ceases to amaze me that the Pew sitters continue on without ever demanding to see a detailed budget.
Hybels was Clinton’s spiritual advisor.
I not only strongly agree, I tend to look back at the whole ‘Church’ movement, and see a change that began with – you guessed it – Bill Hybels and Willow Creek.
I was never a member, but many family members were including on the entertainment, I mean worship, team. I have yet to ask these people what they think of all this.
What I am remembering, and what troubled me then, is how these well-meaning people fell under the Willow Creek spell, and how their little, creaky, boring churches could not compete with the new mega entertainment center. Some of these little churches were literally destroyed. Or they adapted. They were ‘forced’ to buy the package and become little Creekers in order to try and stay in the game.
And that’s how you end up with an entire institution being transformed in a little over two decades. Try finding a church now that sings traditional hymns or doesn’t use projectors and ‘worship teams’. There are a tiny few, a tiny few. My point is not so much whether this is right or wrong, but at the way this thing was done, yet is inaccurately perceived as a random event. Very doubtful that this model arose magically, unprompted out of Bill Hybel’s head, anymore than Billy Graham rose to international prominence unaided. These are the things that The Church has to wake up to.
I guess you are not aware of the president for whom Hybels was a spiritual advisor.
Or been involved with the thought reform in a social justice Warrior Church. Oh well. Russ Moore agrees with you.
And what is important here is that authoritarian control, often gained through emotional, spiritual and or sexual abuse is frequently used to establish ‘control’ and enable institutions to achieve whatever it is their true agendas are. Big money, fame, power and influence? Those are, in my opinion, less the goals than the tools used to achieve the real goals, which I am guessing are not the spiritual health of the Body of Christ.
Lydia, not sure if that is sarcasm or? I absolutely agree that the same exact methods are used on both ends of the spectrum. The exact same mind control tools create ‘social justice Warrior Church’es as are used to create mega seeker churches or the monolithic SBC franchise.
That is my point. These are tools, and can be applied to any agenda – just change the talking points. Satan loves false dichotomies, republicans vs. democrats, Calvinists vs. Arminians, traditional vs. contemporary, etc. In the process, one creates division, hatred and ‘war’, both within and without the so-called ‘Church’.
Barbara Roberts wrote:
FWIW, I’d love the notification option too…I have the opposite problem as Barb. Because my -and others’- comments are moderated, there can be a lot of instantly-posted discussion between a (approval-needed) comment and when it appears. It’s hard to tell what I haven’t read.
I understand why comments are moderated – I’m not criticizing. Just wondering if there’s a way to make it easier to keep up.
I’m not trying to do anything but reel in my disappointment in what has been going on at Willow Creek. I do not attend Willow Creek but I have friends who do, and I’ve taken friends and family there in the past, hoping their seeker friendly focus might appeal to them. I have books by Bill Hybels on my shelves, and really thought he was one of the good ones. I realize that what Jodi Walle is saying John Ortberg did is not on the level of what Bill Hybels did, but it still is extremely unbecoming of a pastor of a church to use the F word or comment on the looks of other women. I would not attend a church where I knew the pastor behaved like that. I also think if it’s true, it minimizes his and his wife’s ability to legitimately point the finger at others, and the impact of their words, and that is very unfortunate. The strength and impact of Nancy Beach’s and Vonda Dyer’s words remain, thankfully.
Interesting how you get it, but those in high places do not.
In the book, “Turn the Ship Around” David Marquet writes: “Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control and creating leaders rather than forging followers.” Power is at the top but information is with the hands-on bottom levels of a hierarchy. Marquet changed the Leader-Follower traditional naval paradigm to Leader-Allocate Control, resulting in success for all.
Thank you for that comment, Lydia. My former abusive, cultish and abuser-friendly church was positively obsessed with “unity.” The pastor preached on it continually. I recognized something was wrong with that, but for various reasons, didn’t quite make the connection.
This is my church and I don’t think there are any “loliests” but there are people who want a full accounting. We NEED a full and unbiased accounting. I am disappointed at the congregation who gave the standing ovations but they haven’t been told all the facts. The information given was half-truths and from the very first email sent out from the elders…lacking wisdom and discernment. The invitation to the first Family Meeting stated in the first paragraph that this group wanted to damage the church and the senior pastor! That statement should never have been sent out and hasn’t been corrected to this day! How can leadership send an OPINION to the entire congregation? The statement was wrong in every way and since there is a great possibility that the group is very concerned and just seeking truth.
Perhaps God is looking for a different type of leadership in His Church. Maybe He is cleaning house.
Jesus is our model of leadership. Followed by the disciples, who never promoted themselves, built buildings, staged shows, had followers, had a staff.
They did, however, write books, and traveled from local church to local church. They appointed local leaders in the local churches. They collected funds for widows and orphans, and then distributed those funds as promised.
Paul was a tentmaker, so they had other jobs. Like Jesus, they healed people.
They called people out who were lying, as well as inappropriate practices in the churches.]
Jesus was a grand act to follow, and the disciples did it right.
lowliests is what I meant
Dave A A wrote:
BTW, one of the drawbacks with the current format is we don’t even see recent comments from older threads. There’s much interesting reading on the Donald MacLeod thread, including this 1988 quote posted Thursday by Malcolm, from Mr James Fraser: “…his response failed to allay my fears that there was some truth in the allegations”. We could apply those words to the most recent statement by Mr Hybels.
Betty Schmidt gave 5 specific ways the current Willow Creek elders have misquoted and misrepresented her. AFAIK they haven’t yet made any corrections or denials. The FAQ document she links, however, entitled Willow Creek Response to Local Media, has mysteriously transformed itself into a 404 NOT FOUND message.
Dave A A wrote:
That is stunning. I hope someone captured that document. Couldn’t find it on wayback.
I hope that someone who knows what they are doing is archiving all of the official statements and documents by Hybels and WC. Like the invitation sent out to for the Family Meetings, and the actual meetings themselves. It would seem somewhat of a legal issue to go around wiping documents and videos, no? Sorta like erasing emails?
How can this stand unchallenged? Or perhaps I am not getting it that this is the ‘official’ stand of the elders, as well as Hybels. Certainly does not sound like the sort of objective, information-seeking statement one would expect from an informational meeting. Sounds more like damage control.
Willow Creek is an entertainment church and Hybels it’s star. All about leadership, leadership, leadership. Using God like a tool. It was always funny to me (sad really) how when Bill Hybels prayed for/about something no matter what it was, that according to Hybels God always answered him immediately or within days. Not even the great prophets got such responses.
Hybels is a BS artist and a skilled speaker but also friends with very unrighteous people. Global Leadership huh Bill ? Who appointed you besides yourself ? It’s all God this, God that, God God God. Which God/god Bill ? There are many Gods or gods. God is a title. What’s His true name – you should know – you’ve written a lot of books, etc …and been a pastor for a very long time. Hybels used Yahweh (God) for his own desires and celebrity. Not a wise thing to do. Now it’s over.
His wife had done nothing wrong . . And, no, it does not minimize their words concerning what Bill Hybels has done.
Good point. Hybels et al have it backwards. We are to be tools in the hands of God.
“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker– An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands ‘?” Isaiah 45:9.
at least I’m sort of out wrote:
Just went through the same unity emphasis, as if pointing out items needing accountability, oversight and review constituted disunity or unwarranted lack of confidence in church leadership.
Red lights are flashing…
“Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear. But your iniquities have built barriers between you and your God, and your sins have made Him hide His face from you so that He does not listen.” (Isaiah 59:1-2)
For someone who set himself up as a leader of leaders, Hybels made a critical leadership mistake here. He missed an important element in his effort at damage control: Preach it straight from the beginning. If/when he does come forward to confess and repent of past bad behavior, he and Willow Creek elders will no longer be viewed as honest and credible among the remaining members.
When was the last time you led someone to Jesus? Hybels led many. Your comments prove your ignorance and arrogance. Nothing more. Sad! @ JB:
I think it’s more common than any of us think.
Brad Brucker wrote:
Ummmmm Brad. I don’t know what you have been told but, according to the Bible, Jesus is the one who brings people to Himself. There is ignorance going on but you may be pointing in the wrong direction.
Brad, I am putting you into moderation.
Obviously very biblically ignorant site!!
No wonder you have no qualms about slamming the Church, the bride of Christ. No idea the the Bible says, “Do the work of an evangelist!”
I guess Billy Graham never led anyone to Jesus then. Wild!!!
Ok. I get I’m not welcome here. Bye! @ dee:
Read the Bible. Read Acts 2. Peter Led about 3000 to Christ on the day of Pentacost. And actually, it was the Holy Spirit that empowered Peter to be so bold that made it happen.
Then read the story of Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Read Paul on Mars hill. Read Acts 4 and 5. Read the Bible Dee. Many self/proclaimed Christians don’t. I do. I have Every year for many years… OT once and NT twice- every year. I read it Daily and Journal too. I also took 3 years of Biblical Hebrew and 4.5 years of Koine Greek – that’s NT greek. So, I’ve also read it in the Original Languages.
Is it that tough for you to give Bill Hybels any redeeming value? Or is this site simply about wholesale condemnation. I pity you if that’s the case.
Mr. Jesperson wrote:
Actually if the pastor or anyone is dealing with confidential matters (e.g., a member of the congregation is having a spiritual crisis or has a kid dying but doesn’t want the general congregation to know[think back to the 1980s when many people shunned those with AIDS]) his or her email should be encrypted and his computer’s hard disk should be encrypted (and any backup encrypted). It would take only one cracker to spill all that confidential information to the world (or one thief of the pastor’s unencrypted computer). However not having a backup to retrieve is a bad idea and deleting email automatically (other than spam) is a bad practice.
Years ago, as a 23 yr. old a classroom assistant for a public high school in southern cali… my boss wisely told me… 1. Don’t ever close the door to the tutoring office if a student is in there *especially female students. There were some very attractive female students. 1 in particular always made flirtatious comments. The door was open. There were people in the main office just outside the tutoring office where I worked with students. Eventually she tried to make a move and placed her hand on my thigh. I stood up and walked out. I informed my boss. We made sure I would not be placed in a situation like that again. 20 years later… I’ve served in ministry as well as a school administrator for small and very large public high schools. I appreciate my bosses wisdom. Unfortunately, this particular scandal not only impacts specific Willow Creek pastors or employees… it impacts the body of Christ and the thousands of people seeking to know Jesus. No one walks away unascathed. Some will walk away all together from their faith journey. Some will sadly never make the decision to follow Christ. We’ve seen all kinds of abuses from ministry leaders and time always reveals the truth. Tonight we wept in sadness for all the people closely associated with this story, yes, even for Bill and Lynn and for their adult children. In the end… the price has already been paid by Jesus and it’s Only By Grace that we enter….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hv72Q23lIp0
FOUR YEARS!! 4 YEARS went by that John Ortberg ‘learned’ about this issue… Yes, Nancy may have not been sure when she had her experience.. with Bill in the hotel room…. but 4 YEARS went by, even after John Ortberg tried to have the Willow Elders handle this… 4 years… Nancy Ortberg still didn’t speak out…. not even then… 4 years.???…… Why not go public 4 years ago?? Why wait until now??
Davis and Natasha wrote:
See, here is the problem . . . too much bowing down to the leaders, too much caliber, too much influence, too much power. And a pedestal they can fall from and did.
And, yes, some people don’t come forward with their experiences for dozens of years. This fact is well known to those who are around sexual abuse/misconduct situations.
Davis and Natasha wrote:
Please do some reading on sex abuse and harassment. People can wait decades. Some until their death beds. There is a reason that statute of limitations are being revised throughout the country.
Please do me a favor Only quote smaller sections of a comment. Lengthy quotes rarely get read and can be annoying.
Brad Brucker wrote:
I am so glad to hear that you are well versed in the Scriptures. My answer is quite simple. “Simul justus et peccator.” (Spell check keeps changing it to percolator!)
@ Davis and Natasha:
They did exactly what most ministry people do. Tried to handle it internally. Then more examples came out. Still not handled. Frankly, I think people went to great lengths to protect Hybels including the women he groomed and hit on. I don’t think he deserved that.
Think of the reaction if this had gone to the media and by passed the elders. Same outrage. There will always be outrage when the celebrity idols are touched in any way. People we once thought of as reasonable become angry. People invest a lot of themselves into their celebrity pastors. It comes out.
I would add that based upon reactions of his followers here, it becomes more obvious “why”. And I go back to one of my earlier assertions about celebrity. Who would believe any of it if it were not for the Ortbergs? It took celebrity to call out another celebrity because that is how that world works. Celebrity is credibility in that world. Little nobodies don’t stand a chance. Or, they quickly retract.
Brad Brucker wrote:
The works of an evangelist is to call people to Jesus. The Spirit does the work: both in the calling and in the conversion.
I find it a it off putting that anyone would keep a list of *how many have you led to Christ.* Scripture does not discuss it that way. The Spirit works, sometimes over decades, with friends and acquaintances. Our job is to call. It is the Spirit’s job to convict and change.
This sounds like the guys in the NHL who put black marks on their helmets when they get hit with puck. Should Christians be carrying around tally sheets-“How many did I lead to Christ this week? ”
Instead, we are the be faithful to our calling. Speak the Word when it is time and serve with love always. Leave the tabulations to the guy with the higher pay grade.
Davis and Natasha wrote:
Look at it this way, if they had waited just 6-months longer Brother Hybels would have been given an honorable exit from the ministry as he faded into retirement without facing these allegations.
Brad Brucker wrote:
Brad, not all of us read or study the scriptures with the same filter. It’s amazing how many believers will interpret the metaphor of “fruit” differently, for example. In the seeker world, it tends to mean numbers, programs, etc. if one has enough of those there seems to be a scale to weigh behaviors against.
Hybels condemned himself. The only thing you can blame other people for is making his deception known. I get it bothers you. But, I seriously doubt your using scripture as a club will shame, convince or condemn many here. Like you, quite a few of us have spent years studying it deeply. And few of us agree on every point! It often makes for very lively and interesting discussions. But one thing I know, we have a choice in our behaviors. In your view, discussing Hybels behavior is worse than his behavior. That is a typical church response. I have seen it for over 20 years.
Brad Brucker wrote:
That was Paul’s charge to Timothy. Every believer has a unique calling. There are some 20 gifts mentioned in Scripture (Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 1 Corinthians 12–13). Not every Christian is called to be an evangelist, but every Christian should have a heart for the lost. Most of the folks who comment on this blog are of that stripe – in their comments, they express a great concern for ministers and ministries who appear more concerned about their mission than the Great Commission.
I really liked your comment. It is clear to me that God did not want this hidden any longer. Hybels appears to be trying to fade off into the sunset now. But, the cat is out the bag.
I believe that God is convicting WCC’s leadership. This was mishandled. if this was mishandled, was else has been mishandled?
I am going to say something that will probably cause an uproar. Willow Creek does not need Bill Hybels. Willow Creek does not need the current crop of leaders. Willow Creek does not need a *incredible* leader. Willow Creek needs Jesus and they need to let Him be in control.
The comments from some in the WCC Trebuchet Club has brought this home to me. They are fighting for Hybels. One person even called him *Joseph.* This person really taught the Hybels was like Joseph who was thrown into a pit and sold into slavery. Good night! Hybels is a man and he serves at the pleasure of the real King.
I truly hope that WCC reexamines who they are. If they are self impressed with the numbers who attend WCC, they have a problem. The Kingdom of God is not massive corporate structures and clever corporate game plans. It is about following a Rabbi who was despised and mocked and sent to the Cross.
I got a chuckle out of your comment to Brad. he has no idea who well you know Scripture.
Brad Brucker wrote:
Brad – I am the Bride of Christ, the Church, as are Dee and Deb and many others who post here. Why are you slamming the Bride of Christ?
Electronic medical records are a good example of confidentiality in action. Nothing is 100% safe but these wrk pretty well. I do not buy Hybels IT excuse for one second. I would be ROFL if it didn’t mean that there are some folks who have been deceived.
@ Davis and Natasha:
“Unfortunately, this particular scandal not only impacts specific Willow Creek pastors or employees… it impacts the body of Christ and the thousands of people seeking to know Jesus. No one walks away unascathed. Some will walk away all together from their faith journey.”
The Body of Christ will be fine. The Body does not put its faith in humans, even celebrity ones. Walking away from an institution is not the same as walking away from faith in Christ. Don’t confuse the two. They are rarely anything alike. That is a big part of the problem. People are saved to “church”. They are evangelized for “church”. Jesus Christ is the assessory. The plastic fish on the car in the church parking lot purchased at the church gift store.
People will walk away from Jesus Christ because Billy Hybels is not who they thought he was? Maybe Creekers should rethink that. That is a huge red flag.
@ Brad Brucker:
Brad Brucker wrote:
In my 9 years of writing a blog which deals with abuse issues, I have been deeply upset by the responses of Christians when their celebrity church or pastor have been shown to have clay feet. Character is revealed, not when things are going our way but when things are painful.
Brad, for better or worse, you are an example of the average WCC person to me. Instead of turning the other cheek or choosing kindness in the midst of your disappointment, I see anger and a willingness to hurt other people. Try as I might, I do not see that sort of response in Scripture.
Since you are well versed, go back to Jesus in the Garden the night he was betrayed. “Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)” (John 18:10 NIV).
Peter was upset. They were taking Jesus away to be put in trial. Peter loved Jesus and responded in anger- causing physical harm to Malchus. Jesus healed that man and told Peter to stow it.
Do not be the disciple with the sword. Be the one who is loving and kind in the midst of sorrow, showing us that you trust Jesus to bring something beautiful out of this pain.
Amen! If at the end of this tragedy, Willow Creek gets that they will flow like a river rather than a creek.
“And it shall come to pass that, like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to overthrow and to destroy and to afflict, so will I watch over them to build and to plant, saith Jehovah.” (Jeremiah 31:28)
@ Davis and Natasha:
I think people also need to read-jodiewalle.com/openletterto johnortberg–who was also accused of much the same thing-be careful of the stones you throw-and also be careful of how you judge anything–
Brad Brucker wrote:
What a biblically ignorant person you are, Brad. But of course, you’ve been trained up in the world of megas, where vapid sayings take the place of the Bible. Of course Billy Graham never led anyone to Jesus. Billy Graham, doing the work of an evangelist, told people the good news. The Holy Spirit, as Dee correctly said, does the work.
All we can do is obey the Lord, do whatever it is we’re told by Him to do. If we do that, whether it is an elderly shut in praying for her friends and family in solitude or a person such as Peter standing in front of thousands, so long as we do whatever the Lord asks, that is a great work. That’s why it can’t be measured in terms of numbers, and in the case of Graham and Hybels are likely massively inflated anyway, and again, they don’t get the “numbers credit” in any event, because it’s not that simple, it’s an enormously complex process that leads anyone to this or that place where they hear a message that the Holy Spirit uses to tip them over the fence. The Bible makes specific reference to this in I Cor. 3:6, but you gloss over that because really, at the end of the day, in spite of all your preening about your great knowledge of the Koine Greek (proud, haughty, so like your master, eh?), you come across as naive, profoundly ignorant.
It’s not a numbers game, it’s not like worldly sales with rainmakers and marketing and big hits. It’s about truth, loving others, the actual fruits of the Spirit, obedience to the Lord. And some people here are calling your guru to account for apparently not being obedient at all, for being a fraud, a hypocrite. No amount of marketing spin can change the fact that if these allegations are true, and they now appear quite credible, that you were following a fraud—and quite naturally, are now acting like one yourself.
“I find it a it off putting that anyone would keep a list of *how many have you led to Christ.* Scripture does not discuss it that way. The Spirit works, sometimes over decades, with friends and acquaintances. Our job is to call. It is the Spirit’s job to convict and change.”
I have encountered such men who speak pridefully about how many they have saved. I don’t think Jesus sees things the same way they do.
Davis and Natasha wrote:
I want to make sure I understand you. Are you saying that God is insufficient in this situation? I come from a family of Russian immigrants on my father’s side. The old Soviet government arrested and jailed Christians. They were not allowed to have free and open churches-the ones that were open were beholden to the government. Yet, the faith grew in the midst of these awful circumstances.
Have you read the stories of the great persecutions of the early church. People were being killed, thrown to lions and tarred and set on fire to be torches for for Nero’s garden parties. The faith grew.
I wonder if you would say the same thing about a small church in rural Indiana or is it only the big churches that are the most important?
Let’s go a little deeper. What you are saying is that public perception of sin causes people to walk away from the faith?
Uh oh…..then we are in trouble. The entire Gospel is predicated on the fact that we are sinners and that we are going to be sinners until we go home. So, if we are all prone to sin, how can anyone come to the faith according to your paradigm?
Let me give you some good news. People are observing us, day in and day out. If you think they don’t see our sin, you are fooling yourself. People want to see us deal with our sin openly and humbly. We have some good news to give to the world. We are all sinners and we all fail. Some more publicly than others. Let’s show the world that there is a place to growth our sin. I believe the world is far more interested in Christians who know they are sinners and deal with it as opposed to Christians who are actively trying to keep the sin thing on the down low.
Be at peace. The faith survived the persecutions.It will survive Bill Hybel’s indiscretions.
Dee Parsons wrote:
Alas, sometimes the reactions of people reveal of whom they are a true disciple. Brad may be a Christian, one stunted by being immersed in an environment that had the form of godliness while denying the power, but he also may be one who wouldn’t know Jesus if He walked up and gave him a hug. Only the Lord knows, way above my paygrade to say with any certainty, but observing fruits and the lack thereof is not above my paygrade. Very often, as you point out, in times of crisis, people respond in ways that reveal. Sometimes they’re letting you know who they’ve really been following—and who they haven’t been.
I refuse to answer the question “How many people have you led to Christ?” That question has no place in our discussions. Our job is to sow seeds. Jesus takes care of the harvest.
Law Prof wrote:
This just about sums it up.
@ Brad Brucker:
Have you any clue how prideful this sounds? Listen to yourself, Brad!
You know, Bill Hybels for two decades or more promoted himself as the one with a system that would revolutionize the church and make it relevant. Willow Creek was promoted by Hybels as a model for all of christendom, “Look at me, I have the answers.” At times it became oppressive for those churches that were told to tear up their foundations and follow The Model. Why would we expect a follower of Hybels to be different from Hybels?
“It is clear to me that God did not want this hidden any longer.”
I think so too. So many perps being exposed it looks like the Lord is behind the exposure.
@ Dee Parsons:
Dee Parsons wrote:
Good point. All of the disciples failed Jesus.
Eleven repented and realized their failing at the resurrection. The Eleven and Jesus’ followers went on to be faithful in following their Lord in establishing the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church is built on Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, not on them.
It’s never about us, but always focused on Jesus the Perfecter of our faith. It’s a good time to focus on Jesus, not on any leader, which is misguided faith in the first place.
Dee Parsons wrote:
In response to that question: “Was Hybels leading folks to Christ or to Hybels? With the way some are acting, they mimic Hybels’ anger and vindictiveness rather than Christ. Time will tell whether WC was following Christ or Hybels. Hybels having resigned rather than face his accusers, what will WC do with Jesus and guided by God’s Holy Spirit?
@ Dee Parsons:
I agree/support the various responses to “Brad Brucker”.
If this very not such a serious matter, their would be some humor in this.
The logical conclusion of B. Brucker position is that “ends justifies the means”. Further, if a few women get run over in this situtation it is fine, and in other cases if a bunch of litlle boys get rapped, thats OK since in long run the “positives” outway the “negatives”.
Brad, given my age, their is a high probability that I was taking college bible class before you were born. As has been pointed out above, many ways to digest the Bible; however a almost universal understanding is to be Christlike…. Christ truely cared about “the underdog”, and did not like religious leaders that abused their positions…. Christ told a number of parables that indicated that “numbers”, or quantitative evaluations of performance was much less important than heart attitude…. Finally, we are told to have high standards for our teachers…. Enough has been said about BH for him to be disqualified in my book, and given how Williow Creek “model” was push on much of christainity, we are all well within the commands of the NT to exhibit judgement and wisdom… if want, we can start playing the verse naming game if you wish…
Law Prof wrote:
Religious, but spiritually destitute. Swimming in a mile-wide creek, one-inch deep. Christianity Lite, they’ve taken the salt out of salt. Worshipers of men. Drawing as much of the world into church as they can, while still appearing to be Christian. Come Lord Jesus!
“Doing The Right Thing, Perhaps?”
The Willow Creek board apparently presented a report saying there was no evidence to support the Bill Hybills allegations?
Yet, recent expanded personal testimony and wider media discovery has presented material that strongly suggests an Willow Creek senior pastoral history of ‘improper judgement’ in relation to proper scriptural leading or proper inner-workings of a church representing the teachings of Jesus Christ.
When this discovery of improper behavior was taken to the senior pastor he aparrently refused to listen.
Senior 501(c)3 Willow Creek management apparently did not throughly examine the ‘extent’ of the personal witness/testimony/allegations at the time of presentation.
And it would appear that apparently absolutely no one found the need/necessity of bringing poor pastoral attitude, grave scriptural issues, his response, and certain questionable pastoral behavior before the church as directed by scripture.
As it has been stated in widening circles of social media, under these circumstances (such as: improper investigation, witness discounting/tampering/intemadation, and most important lack of following scriptural guidelines) the Willow Creek 501(c)3 church organization by many credible voices —has been deemed/proscribed as no longer a(n) safe or scriptural place to attend or be a part of. (Currently deemed questionable at best.)
Will the newly installed Willow Creek pastoral leadership/management just put a proverbial 501(c)3 band-aid on an open sore and continue —business as usual; now that there has been identified a large hole in this church’s ethical, moral and scriptural superstructure?
(A bit dogmatic, huh? Yet I’ve made my point.)
♪♩♪♩ hum, hum, hum …but tomorrow be 501(c)3 rain, still I’ll follow the Son…
Most Megas: Mile wide, inch deep
Brad Brucker wrote:
Having “Church” in your club title does not necessarily mean it is the Bride of Christ. The question is this: if Jesus came to visit your church, would he jump for joy and say, “Yes! This is exactly what I had in mind!”? Or would he start looking for material for making a whip? This is a serious question we all need to ask ourselves about our own churches.
@ Davis and Natasha:
@ Davis and Natasha:
I’ve no doubt that there was irregularities going on at WCC. But, visa-a-vis Nancy’s testimony, if things really were so bad and uncomfortable in that hotel room, why the following admittance: “On a subsequent conference trip to Hawaii, I went running with Bill and he struck up a conversation about the amnesiac side effects of Ambien.” Excuse me? why is she running alone with a man she supposedly feels uncomfortable around?
Please stop reporting about Jodi’s letter. I fund it demeaning to victims and I don’t do demeaning here.
She was running with him outside. Nothing would happen there. Hybels’ problem seemed to be hotel rooms. She was still hoping that he had changed. So were other women who were dealing with this privately. My guess is that given what we know now, she would not have been running with him.
I think the safest place for interaction is in public. For example, I have no problem with a man eating dinner in a public restaurant with a woman who is not his wife . Sitting there talking is not the problem. It is the private hotel rooms that can be dangerous.
Yes, the ambien thing really bugs me. I was prescribed ambien, and I was one of those affected in that way — behaving strangely and not remembering it the next day. The solution? STOP TAKING THE STUFF! To choose to continue to take a medication in spite of those side effects, when there are so many other sleep aids available, makes no sense. Unless, of course, it’s useful as an excuse…
@ Barbara Roberts:
@ Davis and Natasha:
Things add up all too well, sadly. When one person has an experience like this with a trusted friend and spiritual leader, they typically don’t know how to make sense of it. Their view of the person is completely undermined by the experience. It creates an incredible amount of cognitive dissonance. They often wonder, “Did that really just happen?” “What really just happened?” “Am I interpreting that correctly?” “How should I interpret it?” etc., etc.. If it doesn’t recur, people often try to dismiss it as an aberration.
Fast forward to a point where a number of people are coming forward sharing *the same experience.* Now, it all falls into place: “Wow, I’m not the only person this happened to.” “This was real.” “This was wrong.”
I worked as a psychotherapist with both perpetrators and victims of sexual boundary violations for 20 years. That’s how this tends to work.
Brad Brucker wrote:
Ah, the broad-brush accusation of slamming the Church when actions of their leadership are called into question. And since Peter came up in another reply of yours — along with a list of credentials with almost everything but being a Pharisee of the Pharisees — let’s think of his credentials by the time Paul met up with him in Anotich. Given the name Cephas, walking on water (for a time), given the keys of the kingdom and the charge to strengthen the brethren and feed the Lord’s sheep, speaking out on Pentecost after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, sharing the Gospel with Cornelius and the Gentiles, and everything else listed in Acts 1-15.
So when comparitve newcomer Paul withstood Cephas to his face because he stood to be condemned per Galatians 2:11-14, some may have seen it as slamming one of God’s anointed. If we removed the words and reasoning from the picture, it could be seen precisely as that — but not when we see the object and the need for the action. In this case, not only Peter but Barnabas and others were getting caught up in inerrant action that impacted Christian fellowship. It was not the stature of the parities involved that was relevant, but the truth of the matter at hand. Paul spoke up, and evidently appropriate action was taken, for which the Church at large benefitted.
Thus, a comment with an accusatory flail that the bride of Christ is being slammed does much more to define you than your list of purported credentials than the site hosts and most of the responsible contributors in the comments section.
Jodi Walle, who worked for John Ortberg, has written a note.(ed deleted link)
Brad’s comments only serve to make me wonder how many people worship Hybels instead of God.
Nancy2 (aka Kevlar) wrote:
Exactly. If WC folds, it’s a clear indication.
However, just noticed a mega the founding family kids were using as their cash cow, followed by sexual indiscretions. The founding couple died, and the board got rid of those naughty kids and grandkids. The church is now thriving with new leadership, honoring Jesus instead of greedy indiscrete nepotism. The kids tried to sue the board to no avail. Jesus wins.
We know about this link. It has been posted several times. I have said that I do not appreciate victim denigration which is inherent in her supposed exposé .Enough is enough. Now, you should go back and read about victims and try to learn why this open letter hurts real victims.
And Jesus does not need Willow Creek. He needs nothing, needs none of us, but He loves us and makes us a part of His plan. Long after no one can remember Willow Creek and the building is long gone, Jesus will still be Lord.
And every word in it, every allegation, is completely irrelevant to the issues that forced Bill Hybels into an early retirement. One has nothing to do with the other.
He didn’t want to stop and I have some doubts that he took it when all this stuff happened. . Ambien was his excuse and it worked for quite awhile. I remember a similar excuse well stated by Flip Wilson “The devil made me do it.”
Brad Brucker wrote:
Hybels is not ‘the church’ darlin’.
Me too. If nothing else, it is incredibly prideful of a person.
As much as many hate reformed doctrine, there is much less of this particular error.
“Ambien made me do it” (Bill Hybels)
“Alcohol made me do it” (Perry Nobel)
“My potty-mouth made me do it” (Mark Driscoll)
@ Nancy2 (aka Kevlar):
Don’t get me started on how mega churches operate. And yes I tend to paint with a broad brush because the structures and systems involved demand it. They adopted the commercial business approach. Hybels was an early god of the mega how to manual.
Looks like THAT Joseph Smith (the founding couple) were lucky enough to have a Brigham Young (the board) to succeed them. Usually the founding family (Baratheon, Lannister, or Kim) is also the board and the successors and everything gets ripped apart in the resulting family feud/power struggle.
Law Prof wrote:
Because his REAL Personal LORD and Savior (PASTOR Hybels) is getting Blasphemed.
Not physical tally sheets, but during my time in-country there sure were MENTAL tally sheets used for the One-Upmanship Game.
This stemmed from a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation (everything else was All Gonna Burn) where the only thing God would ask on J-Day was “How Many Souls Did YOU Save?” and the numbers in your sales record would be all that determined your position and rank in Heaven. That attitude was a LOT more prevalent than people think.
Just to preface: I am a nobody and not a perfect saint. I, like so many others a tragic victim of corrupted Christianity. We can’t imagine the immensity of it all. Taught many lies in the churches even to the point where we unknowingly give homage to the devil. Willow is no exception.
From what I understand Hybels had a history of handpicking Bible versus to pummel anyone who disagreed with him concerning church doctrine, etc … Not surprising. He didn’t seem to follow Yahweh’s rules much anyway.
One thing I’m certain of, Bill Hybels would NEVER have hired men like Paul or Peter to be teaching pastors at Willow. They wouldn’t have been good enough speakers. Hybels idea on how a church should function was to go out and ask non-believers what a church could do to get them to attend. Shaping a church this way is an abomination, puts Hybels in very dangerous territory.
I think Hybels and Billy Graham lost their beliefs somewhere along the way – maybe they never really had them. So they fell in line with the One World system, befriended evil people and embraced Satan’s (the world’s) ways. Maybe they even went to the Wailing Wall and performed that satanic ritual and maybe were forever changed and lost.
Many years back Hybels started up the World Leadership Conferences which in reality means World Domination Conferences. Fools a lot of people and so utterly against anything Christ said. Willow Creek is worldly – like most churches.
I never saw a cross hanging in Willow nor heard a pastor speak out against gay marriage, women pastors or the slaughter of the Palestinians, etc …
Fear – fear of losing jobs, celebrity and the 501c3.
“..I know my sheep and they know me ..” He came to die for His sheep and he knew us before we were born. How many church leaders are not of His sheep ? More than we know.
Remember all those times we hung out together and nothing happened?
Really? That’s what she thinks is comparable? What nonsense.
Lol. Great point.
Ortberg actually does have a chance to step up and be the bigger man here.
Agreed that Ms. Walle’s claims aren’t relevant to the question of Mr. Hybels actions, although they do speak to a toxic, boundary-less culture where men were apparently not held to high standards and did not have clear guidelines that held them accountable. (Likewise, it seems that women did not have clarity about reportable behaviors and were expected to “handle it” on their own.)
Assuming that Ms. Walle isn’t lying — whatever her tone or motives — Ortberg could “go first” and model real manhood by addressing her claims directly, owning what is true, and asking for forgiveness, as warranted.
Davis and Natasha wrote:
Ok, except that no one I know has heard of Willow Creek or Bill Hybels. This includes a majority Christian circle.
Trust me, Willow Creek has nothing to do with whether I follow Jesus or not. Nor will Christians abandon their faith en masse over this. This is a well worn story, insert Pastor name here, insert church name here. Same story we keep hearing again and again.
Bill Hy the Touchy Guy got himself into this and his elders proceeded to dig the hole deeper – no devil required.
It’s up to the Willow Creek to distinguish themselves and so far, based on the comments here, they have not.
Willow Creek is its own worst enemy – not Satan.
I’m unclear about what “faith journey” means, but it sounds very Willow Creek. (My family attended when I was in elementary and middle school.) Is faith journey a synonym for “sanctification”?
Anyone who would reject Jesus Christ as his/her savior because of this (or any) scandal was not saved in the first place.
Now, if we mean that believers at Willow Creek (or outside of it) will grapple with Mr Hybels’ and the Elders’ sins in these matters as they themselves become more sanctified, I can see that perspective. But it seems that the true believer would not say, “Now I un-repent and un-accept Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection as the atonement for the sins that I will never be able to pay,” but rather, “How is my sin like these sins?” “What is a godly response to this still-unfolding situation?” and “Is this a church I can keep attending and supporting?”
Excellent comment! When will people get it that ‘the church’ is not the same thing as ‘the body of Christ’. Sometimes I wonder if it is not their worst enemy.
Stop the Nonsense, WCC Trebuchet Club!!!!
I allowed links and discussion on Jodi’s open letter despite the fact that I found it insulting to true victims. However, I am not going to let every Tom, Dick and Joe Salitas to copy and paste the letter into this comment section.
Get this straight. The letter was ill received and insulting to victims. If you want to highlight, in every comment, this is not your blog. Good night!!!
I am a Billy Graham fan, just so you know. It was through him that I first heard the Gospel as a nonChristian teen in a nonChristian family in Salem MA.
I do not believe we can judge what is in the heart of people. We can only judge actions. I leave all matters of *who is and who is not a real Christian* In the capable hands of the One who has a higher pay grade. There is great peace in being able to say “That action was wrong.” and not have to decide ” Is he saved?”
Darn it! I cannot find the comment so let me Some person, purportedly a woman, is blaming the women for going to Hybels hotel room.
I am going to assume this women does not know how business is conducted these days. I worked for a large pharmaceutical firm. We would often rent out suites in hotels when there were medical conferences/ conventions going on. We would use the suite for meetings, as well as gatherings for medical professionals. We would have food, beverages, snacks, etc. available around the clock along with staff present to awswer questions, etc.
If you note, the hotel rooms in these narratives were suites and meetings were being held in those rooms. Sadly, this woman does not understand how business is conducted. I can assure her that never once was I assaulted, harassed etc. in one of those situations. That is because most men and women are not predators.
Stop blaming women for getting assaulted. It doesn’t matter what they were wearing, what they were drinking, etc. Sexual predation is not based on *wanting to have sex.* It is about power and control and until people in churches get this, they will be waaaaay behind the culture.
Sometime in the next two weeks, I am going to write a story about a woman who was raped by her husband. It was part of his long time abuse of her. Her pastor said that her body belonged to her husband and he could do whatever he wanted to do. The pastor didn’t understand that this was not about sex but about control and power. This pastor allowed abuse to continue under his nose and I am going to call him on it. He was once featured in a Christian magazine.
Dee is correct with respect to Hotel rooms…. I have going to professional society meeting for over 30 years, and “hospitality” suites are expected/ the norm. For many years, they were THE place when on job hunt…
I’m no expert, but my research in such matters suggests how clever and manipulative abusers are. They have much ‘easier’ prey in a church setting, as the sheep expect the shepherds to be godly, trustworthy and above such things as looking to get laid.
All it would take, with most women is a subtle suggestion that ‘You did come to my hotel room voluntarily’ or ‘I didn’t force you to stay and have a glass of wine’ to manipulate her into blaming herself for any inappropriate activity and keep her mouth shut.
Or, for instance, a pastor may be forever fishing to see what his parishioners ‘know’ as to the latest church scandal, etc., without the trusting individuals ever even know this is taking place. I now see how this happened for years, and I never saw it. Only much later did I recall, for instance, my pastor condemning those ‘gossip bloggers’ who were trying to tear down the church – which is how I first found this blog.
Even as red flag after red flag goes up, we push them aside (btw, I now view ‘red flags’ as the Holy Spirit calling out ‘Warning, this needs careful thought.’). Being gracious, forbearing people who do not want to hold our pastor to the standard of perfection, we persuade ourselves that we misread the situation, misunderstood the words, are making too big a deal of silly things, and so on. Often, it is only after literally hundreds of these red flags have piled up and someone else mentions that they have this ‘problem’ with something pastor said or did, that we finally go, ‘What have I done? Why did I brush aside all of these things as if they did not matter?’
Things that often included the emotional or spiritual wounding of others, if not actual physical or sexual abuse, were overlooked, out of a misplaced trust and loyalty to a so-called man of God.
Other tricks of such manipulators include drawing others into guilt-causing behavior, for instance using swear words casually or tossing around jokes about blow jobs. This leads those who might otherwise speak up about inappropriate behavior to ‘not cast the first stone’. I could go on and one, but my point is that serial abusers are very, very clever. They know exactly how to size people up, how to take advantage of their needs, insecurities, weaknesses, etc. – and this they do with great skill. People so manipulated, though wounded, never quite understand what is causing the pain. Often, they blame themselves.
Narcissistic, abusive leaders are masterful manipulators, and even the most intelligent, cynical, questioning people can be taken under their spell without knowing it has happened. I know. I did. I was deeply wounded and deeply burdened with guilt and self anger. And many that I know and love have yet to escape.
Don’t jump to quickly to the question, ‘How could an honest, intelligent person not have seen what was happening under his or her nose for years?. It is sadly, surprisingly easy.
I am absolutely sickened by this situation. I too believed that what I experienced was an aberration and couldn’t be attributed to a person of such spiritual stature. After all, there were so many good things that had been done and so many accolades given. An accusation could hurt the church, the members and even Christianity. I stayed silent, but I now see that I’m not alone. In hindsight, it is exactly as others have stated — predatory, calculated and manipulative all with a facade of kindness and mentoring.
Now the manipulation continues as the abused who have raised their voices are abused yet again. The “retiring” pastor calls it all collusion and lies. He is met with a standing ovation and a promised time to honor him and his family. The lead elder talks about a duty to protect the church and cites Acts 20:28 which allows her to indirectly call the betrayed “wolves” and enemies of the church. The new lead pastor discounts the claims of the betrayed and encourages the women of the church to believe differently. Once again, power is used to disrespect and mistreat others thereby inflicting invisible but very real, very painful wounds. And it all comes cloaked in the name of the Christianity and the Church. It is incredibly sad to see.
Might I suggest this might more accurately say that ‘sexual predation is not ‘always’ based on ‘wanting to have sex’? I do believe that there exist genuine sexual perverts, but we err when we naively believe that all who abuse – particularly those in positions of power and authority who systematically abuse – are merely acting out sexual impulses. I would posit that there are at least two types of sexual abusers, and it appears that the narcissists seeking to traumatize people into submission outnumber those who act out irresistible urges. Is it even possible that one leads to the other, as the power dynamic created by abuse is addictive?
Dee, my Sister Nancy Beach sent me this today. I am so very proud of her and with how hard this has been on everyone. I hope it’s okay to post.
April Kasper wrote:
I love Diane Langberg. What a great article! I cannot imagine the pressure that your sister is experiencing. It frustrates me that victims have to endure more pain when they come forward. That ill advised letter by Jodi is one example. Tell your sister that I am standing with her in spirit and in prayer. If there is anything we can do to be of further support, do not hesitate to let us know!
Personally I was more offended by Wailing Wall-Satanic ritual connection. That should be shut down with extreme prejudice…pun definitely intended.
Tysvm Dee. I’ve told her about the many intelligent comments here! She thanks you too.@ dee:
@ April Kasper:
Thanks for sharing the link. Excellent post.
Bill Cosby, no less, but under the umbrella of a church.
Yes, yes, yes, yes. So true
“Wailing Wall-Satanic Ritual”?
And with Invocation of GAWD subbing for the ‘Ludes and Roofies.
….just a minor point of information. Shauna (Hybels) met her husband at Willow Creek before they went to Mars Hill and joined Rob Bell’s staff.
Good Lord! Rob Bell’s questioning of Hell has earned him a spot on the heresy list. And to think that Willow Creek notables have been hanging out with him! Whew, those poor WC members have been exposed to some characters!
Headless Unicorn Guy wrote:
Go back to “JB”‘s April 16 comment. Sounds like wing ding anti Semitic tripe. Kind of surprised it was allowed to stand without edit or response.
I did respond and said that I loved Billy Graham I allow comments like this to stand so people can see problems I have experienced within Big Eva. At TWW, comments become a place of learning and exposure.
The comments we disallow often have to do with abuse of victims along with some other things.
There was also some sort of one world conspiracy deal. I don’t know about anybody else, but when I see something bonkers like that I tend to leave it alone…
Dee Parsons wrote:
Only in Christianese One-Upmanship — “My Pile’s Bigger Than Yours!”
“One-World” ANYTHING is a recognition signal for End Time Prophecy Wack Job.
I’m not out to defend Rob Bell, but I’m not convinced that his view of hell can be called heresy, at least based on historical Christianity. Gregory of Nyssa was about as Orthodox as one can get, and yet he was also about as universalist as one can get. None of the first seven ecumenical councils dealt with this topic, which pretty much means that the line of heresy was never defined. As a consequence, I would urge caution in using thw word heresy with respect to this particular topic.
Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
OK. Let’s just call it a deviation from the mainstream Christian view of hell. If the 21st century church had the same healthy respect for a literal hell that the 1st century church had, we might behave differently in and out of church – including church leaders!
I don’t know what mainstream is for this topic. Western Christians seem to view hell as a location whereas Eastern Christians seem to view it as a state of being. Whether or not one can repent after death seems to be the question when it comes to “Christian” universalism. But I don’t think the view of hell is really the issue for the church leaders highlighted here. Rather, I think it is their twisted view of both God and humanity.
Ken F (aka Tweed) wrote:
False teaching/theology always has a wrong view of God, man, sin, and salvation.
“The Bible Is Not Enough?”
“Ruth Haley Barton, formerly of Willow Creek and trained at the very contemplative Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation in Washington D.C., wrote ‘Invitation to Solitude and Silence’, and teaches contemplative prayer through her Transforming Center. Barton co-authored with John Ortberg ‘Ordinary Day With Jesus’, which clearly instructs readers in mystical prayer practices.” This writing clearly shows John Ortberg’s sympathies to this New Age spirituality,
“Contemplative Spirituality can be clearly defined this way:
Contemplative Spirituality: A belief system that uses ancient mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness (the silence) and is rooted in mysticism and the occult but often wrapped in Christian terminology. The premise of con- templative spirituality is pantheistic (God is all) and panentheistic (God is in all). [ https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=28151%5D”
John & Nancy Ortberg are known to be false teachers, mis-leading the body of Christ —teaching unbiblical things such as contemplative prayer which amounts to nothing other than New Age mysticism.
Note: Nancy Ortberg served as a teaching pastor for eight years at Willow Creek Community Church. John Ortberg served (1994-2003) as teaching pastor at Chicago’s Willow Creek Community Church.
So much for their ‘Christian’ wittiness, huh?
Can’t make this stuff up folks.
Dee and Jack know so little. You 2 probably believe Jesus was Jewish as well as all the disciples. Anti-semitic ? That’s a laugh. Look up who are semitic people. Someday you may well find out what a fool you have been. You think you know … yet you don’t. Who are the people our Creator said were “His people?” Certainly not the ones who keep claiming they are always the victims. I am one of His people. I hope your eyes are one day opened.
Are you one of those “Serpent Seed” believers? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serpent_seed
Hey WCCC, set up an 800 number with an outside firm so anyone with information can call without fear of being shamed on stage or in the press. How many women would even dare come forward after being called liars, drunks and suicidal? What woman who may have had a relationship with Bill, but are now married, would want their name and reputation trashed?
I think the rule of thumb is that for every person who complains, there are 15-20 more that don’t just because of the hassle and expectation nothing will change.
Make it easy for women (or their husbands, boyfriends) to provide information. Let an outside, independent firm handle the information discretely and fairly.
I am thankful for the hard work Bill Hybels and his family have done. They have changed so many lives for the good. Brought so many people to Christ. My pray time this morning brought me directly to this passage in Luke Chapter 6 vs 37-42. Judging Others
Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use, it will be measured to you. He also told them this parable: “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brothers eye. Bill Hybels is human and who are we to judge? I’ve worked with men for over 40 years in business. If I felt uncomfortable I removed myself from the situation and spoke up. What’s wrong with you women? Stop claiming to be the victim! Take responsibility for your actions and the role you played! How many people do you need to hurt with your judgement and accusations before it is enough? How long are you going to allow Satan to control your actions? I believe God will welcome Bill into heaven with open arms for the positive work he has done. I chose to focus on the positive, job well done, not the negative. As it says in the bible, Who are we to judge?
I agree!! Thank you for bringing this to everyone’s attention!!
Mary, I am going to assume that you have not been well taught on the subject of judgement. If we are not to judge, why would there be a list of sins in the Bible, including in the NT, with an admonishment to punish people via church discipline. Please take a look at the situation in 1 Coninthians 5. Take look at what Paul says about this immoral situation.
“I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh,[a][b] so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”
We are most certainly called to make judgements on actions. Even our laws in the US lead to punishment o f one chooses to disobey them . Think carefully. Are you really saying we would not judge anyone for anything?
Of course not. So many Christians mix this whole thing up. We must judge actions and , if they are wrong, we must pass judgement on them, even if it is one of our beloved leaders.
Now, what do we NOT pass judgement on?
1. Salvation: in the ned this in the hands of the One with the higher Pay Grade.
2. The inner motivations and thoughts of an individual. Once again, that is left in the capable Hands of our Father.
Mary, you judge day in and day out. You tell your kids “That was wrong. You get a time out.” You watch a kid in a souped up car on the highway darting in and out at excessive speeds and say “I hope he gets picked up.”
You are guilty of judging, something you say we are not to do. I say we are. However, there are a couple of things we cannot judge and this is what I believe what Scripture is talking about.
As for BIll Hybels…I have not judged his salvation. I have said his actions with women have been wrong and they are disqualifying for a man of the Gospel. I don’t know why he does these things. I wonder if he knows?
Mary, read your Bible carefully. The next time you make a blanket statement about what the Bible says, pause, think about it, Google and find some help for these difficult concepts. So, let me challenge you, go back and rethink the *speck in the eye* verses. Ask yourself “If we are to judge on actions that are listed as sin or are considered crimes, then what does this really mean. I will leave you to your study.
The scripture I quoted was word for word out of the bible. I’ve been a christian for many years so I take offense to your allegations. I really question what your true intentions are. I do not believe Jesus would have ever behaved the way you and John are acting. Once again, you are doing Satan’s work not Gods.
One comment not allowed. Stop attacking victims. In a calm. manner, outline your thinking and why you believe it to be true. “It’s all lies” doesn’t cut it and sounds ridiculous.
Davis and Natasha,
I don’t think that you can judge how repentant and how contrite Bill has been, based on the words that he said when he announced his retirement. This has been going on for a long time, and he has had much time to process this, and as he said, he has been accountable, at least after he let go of his anger, to the elders. I understand the victim mentality, I have been a victim, but his repentance has little to do with the women’s healing. It would be very nice if he went to each one of them with other unbiased witnesses, and came to understand how his behavior, even if it was misconstrued, had affected them and apologized it would be nice, but I know that sometime you have to conduct your own healing process, with the help of God of course, and others regardless of the abusers behavior. I do believe that he may have gone through a time of repentance and contrition, as much as he may understand that he needs to, and has come to the other side of it and that is the reason that he may not seem as repentant as they expect. As I say if he had a true understanding of what his behavior had done he might give the kind of apology that these women want. Some of how he came across might also be that to some extent, he too has been a victim of at least some lies and misconstrued intentions. Perhaps after a time. The women will be able to see the other side of things. I don’t know if that all makes sense. I hope so.