Late Wednesday afternoon, May 23rd, hours before the most recent Willow Creek elder statement went public, I received a text from one of the Willow Creek elders, a friend and former ministry partner who had previously contacted me. He indicated that Willow Creek had engaged a third-party Christian conciliation firm to pursue resolution and reconciliation with the parties involved. This was not previously discussed with me nor requested by me. The engagement was confirmed on Wednesday night by the elders’ public statement, read by new Willow Creek elder board chairman Lane Moyer. Here is part of my response to the elder who contacted me:
"In reviewing the company you referenced (Crossroads Resolution Group), they are clearly Christian conciliators, and not independent investigators of abuse situations, including sexual harassment in the workplace. So, it appears that you are treating this like a relational dispute that needs to be resolved, rather than a 1 Timothy 5 situation of a leader being accused by 2 or more parties of patterns of sin. This is not an issue of relational reconciliation, it is an issue of dealing with the sin of a leader. This latest step by the elder board only further communicates to me that you either don't understand the nature of the problem, or you collectively have no intention of discovering the truth and holding Bill accountable for whatever he has done.”
What Willow Creek is suggesting is the proverbial cart before the horse.
They continue to refuse to address the presenting issue, which is Bill Hybels’ sexual misconduct and abuse of power. They are skipping over several important steps while trying to catapult this to resolution by conciliation process. Transparency, accountability and repentance must occur before the process of reconciliation or resolution can begin. I welcome the opportunity to enter into a reconciliation process with my brothers and sisters at Willow Creek, at the proper time. Now is not that time. Now is the time for truth to be discovered and then handled in a way that is consistent with biblical mandates on leadership.
1 Timothy 5:19-20 states,
“19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. 20 But those elders who are sinning you are to reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.”
There are now seven women who have come forward with accusations against Bill Hybels. Seven. The alleged behavior is not merely “inappropriate”, it is actually sin. The next thing to do biblically is to “reprove before everyone, so that the others may take warning.” That would require a full and impartial investigation and a revelation of Bill Hybels’ mysteriously hidden emails, texts and behaviors, so the truth can be revealed. Stating that “some of Bill’s choices were inappropriate” falls far short of reproving him publicly. Willow Creek leadership has not attempted in earnest to discover the truth and has shown no intention of doing so.
Willow Creek elders and leaders, I respectfully implore you to heed the words of the apostle Paul, in verse 21 of the same passage: “I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.”
May it be so.
Regarding the Willow Creek Association, I received an email late last week from Tom DeVries, the President of the WCA, asking me to have a face-to-face meeting, with the goal also being “resolution and reconciliation." I appreciate that he reached out to me. I told him that I would be open to an initial conversation, under the following conditions:
Here are links to statements from some of the other women: