by Rich Birch: It’s hard to believe it but it’s true. We live in a post-Bill Hybels era. Over the last few months, watching from the sidelines has been heart wrenching to say the least. The resignation of the entire elder’s board, Heather Larson and Steve Carter this week does seem like the start of a new beginning for the church. Even though Bill hasn’t acknowledged what really happened, it’s evident that he stepped way out of line and hurt people in the process.
It’s hard to overstate the influence that Bill Hybels and the people of Willow Creek Community Church have had on the evangelical church world. As a result, much of what we view as “normal” within a broad spectrum of this segment of the Christian world traces its roots back to this leadership community. Just a few ways that this group pioneered what we currently do include:
Communicating in a way that can be easily understood by unchurched people.
Bringing clarity in mission and vision to drive our churches toward deeper effectiveness.
Small group ministry to help connect more people.
Gift-based serving focused on helping lead from how God has uniquely created them.
Employing modern music in weekend programming.
Establishing church marketing as a normative way to relate to the community.
Elevating the role of women in leadership.
Putting the focus on raising generous givers to fuel the mission of the church.
Reinforcing leadership development as a core function of church leadership.
Using kids’ ministry as a strategic tool to grow the church.
Implementing multisite church as a way to improve a church’s ability to serve the community.
Identifying practical acts of rendering service to our communities locally and globally as the essence of what we do.
… just to name a few.
On a personal level, I remember sitting in the Lakeside Auditorium as a young leader and crying during a “normal weekend” service at Willow and being astonished as I realized how effective church could be in reaching the community. Over the years, Bill’s voice has served to reinforce the irrefutable importance of reaching people far from God in my life…