Bill Hybels

The Chicago Tribune ran the story around Bill Hybels. The well loved and highly influential pastor of Willowcreek is a name few evangelicals, or post evangelicals, can escape. Disappointment is thick around this story. It's just hard.

The Chicago Tribune

What much of the church didn’t know was that Hybels had been the subject of inquiries into claims that he ran afoul of church teachings by engaging in inappropriate behavior with women in his congregation — including employees — allegedly spanning decades. The inquiries had cleared Hybels, and church leaders said his exit had nothing to do with the allegations.

An investigation by the Chicago Tribune examined those allegations and other claims of inappropriate behavior by Hybels, documented through interviews with current and former church members, elders and employees, as well as hundreds of emails and internal records.

The alleged behavior included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to hotel rooms. It also included an allegation of a prolonged consensual affair with a married woman who later said her claim about the affair was not true, the Tribune found.
— The Chicago Tribune

A Response to Bill Hybels: Hey, Bill Hybels

So, Bill, it’s fair to say that, in this case, the fire has come—the Jesus kind of fire. I hope your intention in building powerful women was to build on the foundation of Jesus and not so that you could enjoy a position of power over them. I hope you will honor those who pursue justice and consider the importance of allowing an investigation to continue, so the church can be found blameless. I hope you will consider the different ways in which you interact with women and men. And, Bill, I hope you will remember your own meme-worthy words: “Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the senior leader wants it to be,” and always remember our senior leader is Jesus.
Anyone who may have been victimized by people in power needs to know that the church of Jesus is their refuge and champion. In this case, the tremendous courage of several women has been met with an inadequate process that has left them without a refuge and with no way to be assured of a fair hearing. Just one week after the Chicago Tribune reported claims of misconduct that had not been investigated by the church, by women willing to be named and by others as yet unwilling to be named, the church held “family meetings” presenting the senior pastor’s and elders’ position. It is clear they hope this will put all these matters to rest.

In a family, all voices should be heard, and every story should be told. This should happen in a setting where there is a balance of power and independent judgment can be made about their accounts.

The women cannot and must not be silenced.
— John Ortberg