Big Eva And Big Church

By Dr. R. Scott Clark - Posted at Abounding Grace Radio:

In a recent episode of her podcast the Chicago-based journalist Julie Roys interviewed two people, Jim and Theresa, who have a long history with the Willow Creek movement. It is a fascinating but troubling interview. The reader should listen to the interview for himself but I found it illuminating about the nature of the “mega-church.”

In April, 2018 Christianity Today reported that Bill Hybels had resigned as the teaching pastor at Willow Creek, one of the USA’s premier “mega-churches” and one of the first such churches since the rise of the modern “church growth” movement. He resigned amidst charges, according to the report in CT, of behavior “including inappropriate comments, private meetings with female staffers in his hotel room and at his home, intrusive hugs, and, in one case, an unwanted kiss.” The first person to make these charges was a female pastor on the Willow Creek staff. In 2018 the elders were defending Hybels and rejecting the charges. A March, 2019 report, however found that charges of “sexually inappropriate words and actions” were credible. One aspect of the scandal that received less attention is this sentence from the Washington Post: “The Willow Creek Independent Advisory Group’s report concluded that Hybels also verbally intimidated both male and female employees. Neither the church nor the association did enough to stop him.”

It is this aspect of the story on which Roys interview with people with extensive experience Willow Creek (Crystal Lake) and the Willow Creek Association focuses. Roys notes that there was a “reconciliation service” at Willow from which those who made the original allegations were excluded. In that light, one might even regard it as a public relations event rather than a service of reconciliation.