Sound Doctrine
Back To The Bible
Church History
Classic Devotion
Classic Family
Purpose Drivenism
Changed Message
Today's Pragmatism
Today's Methods
Today's Synergism
Today's Worldliness
Today's Worship
Today's Evangelism
Unity at What Cost?
Wonderful Plan?
Athenian Awards
Resource Spotlight
Audio Clips
Google Old Truth



 Jim is Currently Reading:

Stonewall Jackson,
The Spiritual Side

The Suffering Letters
of Spurgeon

 Chad is Currently Reading:

In Defense of the Decalogue: NCT Critique

A Treatise on Earthly-Mindedness

 Notable News & Links:

The Founders website has some audio downloads from some well respected pastors and scholars on the topic of covenants. I'm currently listening to Jim Renihan's refutation of New Covenant Theology (NCT) which is a new doctrine that seeks to challenge what has been believed for centuries. It is gaining popularity amongst otherwise biblically sound pastors and believers.

  Today's Reading Guide:  

Bible: M'Cheyne Plan

Prayer: Valley of Vision

Devotional: Spurgeon

Hymn: Trinity RB (blue)

Grace Gem: Puritans



Christianity Without Doctrine?

"I Have Counted The Costs of Following Christ"

The Quick Converts of Our Day Often Fall-Away

The Value of Catechisms Part 2

Old Truth's Mean God and Jealousy Over Other Church's Growth?

Michael Lukaszewski, Final Thoughts on Converts

Convert Counts: A Response to Michael @ Oak Leaf

"The Number of Easter Salvations Was Exactly..."

The Protestant Reformation on TV - Tonight!

The Arrogance of Abandoning Church History



   Home  |   About  |  RSS Feed  |  Contact
Thus says the Lord: "Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.
But they said, 'We will not walk in it.'" --Jeremiah 6:16


23 October, 2007   comments: (45) Today's Pragmatism  

Did Bill Hybels 'Repent' of Seeker Sensitive?

I've been receiving numerous emails from people asking me what my take is on the recent news of "Bill Hybels repenting" of his seeker sensitive methodology. The talk of repentance by the founder of the Willow Creek church comes from a recent conference in which he was quoted as saying: "spiritual growth doesn't happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage". Of course, that's true, and that's why so many of us have been chanting "give us Bibles not Hybels!" for years. But the question now is - what are we to make of these latest Willow words? Are we really seeing a change of mind from the Prince of Plexiglas Pulpits? Or is this just another left turn leading even further away from biblical Christianity?

I wish I could give a more positive assessment to the remarks by Bill Hybels but I'm more apt to agree with Phil Johnson's reaction:

...It's just a slick announcement about Willow Creek's latest program. So am I the only one who finds it both ironic and disturbing that when the framers of ministry philosophy at Willow Creek finally are faced with the desiccated fruits of their program-driven approach to ministry, their instant response is to announce a new program?

Really, I would love to sound more positive and affirming about Hybels' "wake up call." But critics of Willow Creek have been pointing out for years that the seeker-sensitive ministry philosophy severely stunts Christian growth. Even worse, Willow Creek's methodology seems to multiply the number of almost-converts who dabble in spiritual matters until they are no longer amused, and then fall away without ever coming to authentic faith in Christ.

Hybels has blown off all those criticisms for years. He only reluctantly and partially accepts them now because he can't very well wave aside his own staff's opinion-poll data.

You can see what you think by listening to Bill Hybels in this video, which unfortunately sounds closer to a stand-up comedy routine than the remorse of a wearer of sack cloth and ashes.

If you've read Old Truth for a while, you know that I attended a church that modeled itself after Bill Hybels' approach. We live about 90 minutes away, and my former church regularly received training and materials from Willow Creek. It is from years of my own observations from within that church system that I can agree with the assessment of Hybels himself, as he pointed to the problem diagrammed on the white board in the video. It's the same dilemma that my former pastor used to seem haunted by at times; it's the problem of whether they are addressing the "fully devoted followers of Christ", or whether they are even seeing such devotion as the fruit of their system.

Therein lies the achilles heel of the whole Seeker Sensitive system. Hybels didn't come right out and admit it in terms like these, but the lesson is clear: These churches are great at attracting crowds, but after unchurched Harry has been going there for a year, then what? That next step is where the problems are so apparent, that even the biased Willow Creek staff was able to identify them.

The problem for Hybels' system is that only the Holy Spirit can make true believers. Yet it's clear when we hear Hybels say things like this that he thinks man can create belief: "If they'll sustain that kind of all out effort, they're going to break through all the barriers keeping them from belief". He may be finding out now though, that there are some barriers that can NOT easily be overcome, even by innovative church systems, and a particularly hard nut to crack is how to turn seekers into the kind of believers that are so fully devoted that they are willing to suffer and endure persecution and trials for the sake of Christ. Even when a church like Willow Creek does play a part in creating a true believer, the convert ends up recognizing that the very church that was used by God to save them, now has very little to offer them. Many end up leaving, and their place in the pew (fold down theater chair) is filled by a new seeker.

In the video, Bill Hybels speaks of one fix to the problems that he sees in his church system, as being the need to teach advanced believers to "feed themselves" and not look so much to the church to feed them. No doubt believers should do that, but is it really wrong to expect meaty teaching from our churches? According to the recent tirade of megachurch pastor Steven Furtick, the answer to that is 'Yes'. And yet the disciples in the Acts 2 church devoted themselves to "the Apostle's teaching". When we read biblical letters to churches such as the book of Romans, it gives us an idea of what was considered to be "the Apostle's teaching"; many today would call Romans "too heady" even though it was written to church goers (not theologians). We know enough about Willow Creek to realize that this kind of meat is not on the menu there, despite Hybels' claims to the contrary in the video.

We often hear that "small groups" are the answer to advanced bible training and discipleship, but that has proven to be false for the most part. Another post here on Old Truth demonstrated how these small groups tend to be a "pooling of ignorance" with an emphasis on "sharing your feelings". Fellowship and "prayer and share" have value, but the question still remains - where is the meaty bible teaching, especially in an environment where anyone's opinion is supposed to be as valid as everyone else's?

So then, what does Bill Hybels admission of the flaws in his system really mean? All I can do is guess at this point. We know that Rick Warren is thought of by many as having improved upon Hybels' ideas; Warren overshadowed Bill Hybels to some degree. Now perhaps we are seeing Warren being overshadowed by the bolder next generation seeker churches like Newspring, Granger, Ed Young Jr., and LifeChurch.tv. Maybe the Emerging Church movement is set to overshadow all of them. We don't know at this point, but suffice it to say, Hybels' methodology is getting old now.

For Bill Hybels to remain on top as a leader in modern evangelicalism, an innovative change is needed. Maybe it will be some postmodern blending of the seeker paradigm with the Emerging Church. Perhaps we will see new cooperation between Hybels and some like Brian McLaren or others in the mystical side of Emergent. If I were a betting man however, I would bet the farm that what we will NOT see, is a Hybels return to the ageless bible-based Christianity of the Reformers, Puritans, and Victorian age Christians in which doctrine and truth were highly valued. I hope and pray that I'm wrong.

Posted by: Jim B.   Link: http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.811


"Maybe it will be some postmodern blending of the seeker paradigm with the Emerging Church. Perhaps we will see new cooperation between Hybels and some like Brian McLaren or others in the mystical side of Emergent."

I think you're on to something here..... This may be the next phase of the transformational process. You have to have the antithesis after the thesis, before you can get to your next synthesis.

Posted by: Loretta on Tuesday, October 23, 2007


That would be interesting wouldn't it. In some ways, the Emerging Church Movement is a response to the Church Growth Movement, and is hostile towards it. For example, here's what seeker-centered megachurch star Perry Noble said on his blog a while ago:

One of the chief critics of churches like [mine] is the whole "emergent" church movement. I just love that - here you have 15-20 people...usually guys, who sit in rooms smoking cigars and drinking beer, debating theology while the world around them goes to hell...and somehow they think they've "got it!" In my opinion
the only thing that needs to "emerge" from the emerging church is their head out of their rear ends so that they can better listen to God and fulfill the Great Commission.

Perry and others like him aside, there are some 'tweeners' that do seem to borrow from both paradigms. I think Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, and Mark Driscoll might be examples of that. They are at the controls of megachurches with an Emerging flavor to them. I remember reading a while ago how Ed Young Jr. was experimenting with a monthly mystical worship format at his megachurch that also seemed to borrow from the ECM. Maybe Hybels will change course now, and go in one of these directions. Who knows.

I'm looking forward to seeing if anybody else in the comments below has other theories. All that I have are my own guesses.


Posted by: Jim B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I am also seeing what I would call a blending of seeker-sensitive and emerging church philosophies at play in our church. This has been going on for some time. (5-6 years)

This is nothing new as our leaders have been picking from the evangelical "salad-bar" for some time. The thinking is that we can take and adapt what is good about these other ideas and leave out the bad. They tried that with the PDL and are now dabbling in some EC ideas.

What this looks like is a "flavor-of-the-month" type of ministry.

Posted by: Brian B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I remember going "door to door" and visiting the neighborhood where my local church was located.

I spoke to a woman, who was married with two children. And she was very interested as I talked about our non-denom community church, for she was thinking of finally getting involved in a nice community church.

But when I began to speak about the Gospel, and how we are sold out to reach the lost souls with the good news of Jesus Christ, and how we have a missionary going to Nepal to take the Word of God there, she became bewildered, and uninterested.

I believe you can have a huge assemnly of basically moral people. And they will call themselves Christians.

A dead sinner can be taught to look good, and to feel good about himself. Some won't be able to do this, and won't want to, but I believe there are thousands who can be moral, and not be born again.

But the moral unborn again person, who calls himself a Christian, because he goes to church, and the blatant sinner have the same dead heart. Compared to the born again person, who has had his heart changed by God, is a difference like night and day, or being alive, and being dead.

We may not be able to see it that clearly, but God sees it. And that's what matters.

Posted by: don sands on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Waaaaay back in the recesses of my brain I sort of remember Hybels saying something about Emergent being the way to go. (Maybe not those words, but that sentiment). I would have read that about a year ago. For some reason I seem to think Hybels was praising Rob Bell.

Posted by: Colleen on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

What is interesting is that I've heard things which sugest that the EC is opposed to the seeker-sensitive movement. However, from what I have been able to deduce the EC philosophy is the natural outgrowth of embracing seeker sensitivity.

We attract seekers by watering down the message. The next step is to turn the message into a dialogue and determine truth through discussion.

It is not as great a leap as some would like to think

Posted by: Brian B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bill Hybels wants to go back to age-old spiritual practices. Yep, he is into spiritual formation and contemplative prayer. He has been into this "dark ages" practices for over a year. He is going downhill fast. If one wants more info on his new church ventures they can find it at Lighthouse Trails Research.

Posted by: Sherry C. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Just like in the business world, when a certain "model" no longer works, they switch to another one.

This is what will happen in this case.

Hybels will find, and promote, another "church model" and then it will also generate positive "results which will then be encouraged to be used by his many hundreds of local congregations, who currently pay money to receive the latest designs.

But, what does this say to all those "seekers" who were brought in under the "old" model? Are they now going to be told that they might actually have to be less comfortable (meaning, is Hybels going to give them the straight Biblical teaching on subjects?). If they are, they may bolt, and then how will this house of cards be supported financially?

Naw....it's "not working" but they'll just move to the next program (man-made, of course) and everyone else will latch on to it.

It might even be called a "move of God."

Too bad that some of these churches who already purchased the multiple hundred dollar "program" to follow the Hybels plan will have to throw it out, and buy version 2.

Posted by: Al on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Early in the summer I had a conversation with a friend and former colleague who is a member of Willow Creek. She told me in the course of conversation about a change that had already taken place in the church: the small group studies had been reorganized into neighborhood studies, and the meetings of the small groups had moved to homes. She was pleased with the resulting simplicity of schedule, and said that their neighbors were now treated to the sight of families carrying their Bibles down the street on summer evenings.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I wonder now if this was the earliest stage of Willow Creek’s ministry shift. It certainly fits the rubric of “prayer, Bible reading, and relationships.” It seems like a “simplification of programs.” Revitalization of small groups could certainly lend itself to “teaching the sheep to feed themselves.” Related to the recent conference or not, my friend seemed to be indicating that this change was a major shift intended to fix something within the church.

There is nothing wrong with the concept of neighborhood Bible studies. Many solid, biblical churches, including some that are reformed, have utilized these as they have grown larger. They certainly can provide a form of outreach otherwise difficult to achieve. I do hope that the neighbors of the Willow Creek-ers are invited to serious times of study.

However, the move to neighborhood studies demonstrates a continuance of the mega-church reliance on “cell groups” to answer all the lacks of the church. Whatever is lacking in the big, public ministries of the church can be supplied in cells, or so the CGM model would have us believe. If there is no time for heavy teaching in church, we’ll get it done in the cells. If individuals get lost in the shuffle of thousands on Sunday morning (and tens of thousands on Saturday night) then we will provide them cell groups during the week. The cells become mini-churches within the church.

This model, which is not known in the New Testament, is unsurprisingly a failure. For one thing, friendly accountability to a small group is no substitute for real accountability in a properly ordered, properly disciplined church. For another, serious teaching is unlikely to happen in a small offshoot of a church in which the pastors do not teach. Small group leaders will always emulate the professional staff; if church is Bible-lite, so will be the Bible studies.

Furthermore, the model entirely fails to address the greater issue - proper worship. The large public services are designed around the seeker, while the small groups are supposedly designed to meet the fellowship and teaching needs of the “fully devoted” members. What they miss in worship, they get in the cell. But what about a worship service focused on the glory of God? It matters not whether a church is seeker-oriented or member-oriented; it ought not to be man-oriented. True worship should be the goal of the public services.

It may be that Willow Creek is realizing the futility of its high-energy programs. If, however, it continues to think in terms of a public service to draw the lost and small groups to feed the flock, it is really just retooling the same old CGM strategy - stripping it of some of its sillier (and more expensive) adornments, but retaining the essential, unbiblical structure.

I rather like my Willow Creek friends. For what it’s worth, they are serious Christians - in many ways much more biblical than others who attend a “more Bible oriented” mega church in the same area. I would like to think that they are being fed and shepherded, and even more that they are being led in the worship of our Creator, but I have little hope that the recently announced change in ministry direction will accomplish that.

Posted by: TJ on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I just watched the Greg Hawkins clip, he's the "Executive Pastor" at Willow Creek. Looks like all of this talk of repentance is just the same old nonsense we've come to expect from Willow Creek veiled in Christian language.

Here's what Hawkins says; First he wondered if the congregation was pleased with the way they spent their money. They asked the congregation what they felt they needed. They wanted to be informed by researching not only the people at Willow Creek but other congregations as well. His exact words were, "informed by research and rooted in scripture."

Well, he's already lost his moorings. There's no root of the word of God in anything they're trying to do. Perhaps if instead of doing more market research they went back to the book of Acts, the pastoral epistles, back to the bible, and organized according to the mind of Christ with a desire to please the Lord, even at the expense of the congregation, then maybe I'd be convinced. But no, it's the same old nonsense repackaged. There is nothing of repentance in any of this.

Posted by: Chad V. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007


You said: "Perhaps we will see new cooperation between Hybels and some like Brian McLaren or others in the mystical side of Emergent."

Sadly, it appears that is happening. The Willow Creek website has announced a "ministry event" (Shift 2008) geared towards student ministries. The event lists Brian McLaren as a main speaker. Sorry I don't know how to shorten the link but here it is:


Posted by: Marilyn on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

All of this talk about saving "money" by Willow Creek is surprising to me. They were the church that spent an incredible amount of money on actual circus acts for their Christmas program. Much of the money went for advertising, but they also brought in a bunch of Circ du Soli type professional performers. Not only was that costly, but I thought it was odd that things have now reached the point where we not only have entertainment in church, but the entertainers are hired from the secular realm. So much for Dutch frugalness.


Posted by: Jim B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The hallmark of the Hybel's/Warren type of churches is pragmatism, the pursuit and use of "whatever works", and to find the next trend and ride it. The logical progression is for them to start using "what works" from the EC bunch and incorporate into their system. They both are already buddying up with prominent EC people and will do whatever it takes to get people in the door to hear their version of the gospel.

Posted by: Morris Brooks on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I'm wondering where the word repent even came from in summarizing Hybel's message at the leadership summit. I didn't hear repentance hinted at whatsoever!

Posted by: Greg S. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007


The 'repent' terminology started with this post which was one of the first to report on this; Phil Johnson mentioned that link in his post as well.


Posted by: Jim B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

TJ said: "I rather like my Willow Creek friends. For what it’s worth, they are serious Christians - in many ways much more biblical than others who attend a “more Bible oriented” mega church in the same area."

Seems contradictory to all that's been said. Are these friends people who grew up in Christian homes and thus have a background in the Bible in spite of being at Willow Creek? Or are these seekers that have turned out this way? I'm guessing the former.

Posted by: Phil on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I pray that God is working in Bill Hybels. He was raised with some reformed teaching and is familiar with Berkhofs Systematic Theology and several confessions. When he started teaching, he used those resources. He didn't like the results and promised he would never teach that way again. So he took the modern evangelical pragmatic doctrines, applied marketing, and rented a theater. The rest, as they say, is history.

I'm old enough to remember the start of WC. It was at a time of major change toward a more liberal society. I think they had a desire to do something good and had a sense of urgency to rescue as many as possible. The problem is that they adopted the wisdom and psychology of man and mixed it with scripture. It has been a giant self-help program.

In the past 5 years, WC has joined the Emergent movement and is promoting practices derived from eastern, pagan religion and the apostasy of Rome. It is part of their effort to be more "spiritual". It is not Christianity.

As TJ said, there are some serious Christians at WC. Some are on staff. I pray that God is pricking Bill Hybel's conscience and causing him to remember the truths that he once taught. I don't know his heart, but I'm hoping that he isn't just shifting his marketing to appeal to the American desire for "spirituality". Inviting McLaren is not a good sign. A lack of a strong statement of biblical repentence is not a good sign. Leaving the emergent, pagan practices in place is not a good sign. Adopting an emergent view of scripture is not a good sign. So I'll wait and see and continue to encourage people to attend a church that is God-centered and has God's view of His Word.

Posted by: pamskee on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It's certainly not impossible for true believers to attend there; I'm sure there are some. Hybels, in my opinion, is a step or two above Rick Warren in orthodoxy, and he even has some useful writings such as his "Too Busy Not To Pray" book which has some good advice in it. Also, as Pamskee said, the good intentions behind Seeker Sensitive have never been in question.

It's just amazing to think back on the times when I've heard Hybels get up in front of crowds and cast aside those biblical doctrines that seem to have "no practical use". One time he asked for a show of hands of everyone who had thoughts of lust this week, and then for another show of hands for everyone who has thought about biblical Election this week. Obviously the difference between the two counts was dramatic. The conclusion then was drawn that church shouldn't talk about those non-useful doctrines. And let's face it, the Trinity could be consider such a topic. How does the Trinity really "help you" with your job, relationships, parenting, finances, etc. In fact, one heretical church leader in my city even made that exact point about the trinity's "lack of usefulness" to man. I'm sorry but, if the bible says something, pastors are called to teach it and not ignore it for the sake of pragmatism.

Hybels' low regard for truth and sound biblical teaching is further demonstrated in this post, which quotes him as being most concerned with giving people a "moving experience" of some sort, while truth takes a back seat. That has been the aim of his church services unfortunately; "experience".


Posted by: Jim B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

TJ said: "I rather like my Willow Creek friends. For what it’s worth, they are serious Christians - in many ways much more biblical than others who attend a “more Bible oriented” mega church in the same area."

Seems contradictory to all that's been said. Are these friends people who grew up in Christian homes and thus have a background in the Bible in spite of being at Willow Creek? Or are these seekers that have turned out this way? I'm guessing the former.

To be frank, my Willow Creek friends always seemed contradictory to me, too. I cannot approve of the method and message of their church, but I not only think there can be biblical Christians there, I know there are.

I mentioned this not because I think it makes or breaks any point that might be made about Willow Creek methodology, but because I can't mention these friends and what they told me is going on in their church without saying that they are serious, biblical Christians who are living the Christian life faithfully.

Like you, Phil, I suspect that most if not all biblical Christians in their church are from previously Christian backgrounds. My friends were. But it should also be noted that their kids, who have only known one church, are pretty good kids, too. That's the power of a good home.

None of which really changes the discussion about Willow Creek's methodology. It must be evaluated by Scripture, and if their "new direction" continues along the old CGM model (public meetings for the lost and small groups for the saved), then it is not biblical. I will continue to hope that somewhere in the mix my friends and their kids are fed on the Word, but I can't be excited about what the church is doing.

Posted by: TJ on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I just remembered what it was about bill hybels and emergent!

In 2005, when I was going to a church that I was beginning to suspect was emergent, I mentioned Bill Hybels to the pastor. He said that Bill Hybels was changing his mind about how he was doing church. Basically he quoted Hybels as saying the stuff we are talking about here today. (Except that my old pastor was saying this back in 2005!!) My pastor was basically giving him kudos! I went on line and saw something from Hybels site saying that very thing. This is not new.

Hmmmm....Why is this coming out nowlike it all has to do with his staff wanting to take a different direction?

{PS I know that I am remembering this correctly now. BH was saying this stuff 2 years ago.}

Posted by: Colleen on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Did anyone notice how this new insight didn't come from the conviction of the Holy Spirit it came from their pragmatic corporate methods. So will their new program to turn it all around. One step forward, two back...blind leading the blind. I wonder how many committees and donuts and catered lunch meetings it took to "feel" like they were getting somewhere. I bet the prayers went like this: "Thank you for this polling data, and for the money it took to get it done, now help us to present this to the "church" so they will be discipled our new way...ooops I mean yours." When the GIGA so-called 'church' collapses from it's sand foundation...

Matthew 7:26-27 (King James Version)

"And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it."


Posted by: Brent on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hybels is a product of the times. He thinks and reacts to the times. He has accepted willingly or not, much of the philosophy of the world. Most do , so this is not against Mr. Hybels.

Zeal is a good thing , but it can be easily misdirected. This is always my concern about myself. Hybels seems to have a zeal for doing God's work. This can lead to so much error . Oswald Chambers points this out often in his devotional.

I am almost sure that Willowcreek Assoc churches still use personality profiles for "discovering" spiritual gifts. Is this wise? The personality tests were developed by Marxist/Socialists scientists who belived that this method of categorising and sterotyping and statisticising individuals would lead to better contol over people, including their worth as individuals and where they may best be placed for the good of the society, meaning the controllers. Is it God- honoring to use this on free men , men that God has made free? Does anyone even realise this? I say most do not because we are not taught this antithesis. It could be because the ones that contol education, science , government will not allow it or have been deceived themselves. This is Satan's world and he controls it {not ultimately mind you}. But most Christian leaders do not see this. They are taught in seminaries that teach these very things. When the light that we have is dark , how great that darkness.

Man gave up God-centered education in favor of man-centered, "scienctific" education over 130 years ago. The sins if the fathers will are visited on the second and third and even more generations unless we repent from this world's ideology. I do not see this happening and thus the Great Apostacy looms ever closer. But for us believers who are faithful, we will stand strong in that day of trouble, if we understand truth and obey. Yes many may be saved, but as through fire.

We need to keep praying for Hybels and these men of the "day", so that their eyes may be opened. Just maybe prayers are taking a fruitful effect on Mr. Hybels even now. We know God has much patience. I just wish that the church was more careful and sure of choosing those that are called to teach, even in the schools and seminaries. How long O' Lord?

Posted by: Fred on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hybels confesses: "We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

Fred Responds: There may be some validity to this, but why not in the church also? You teach them how to read their Bibles while they are at church and teach so as to demonstate example.

Why did Bill Hybels not listen to many in the church that were telling him this. The McArthurs, the Pipers, the faithful bloggers? Why rebel when there are so many learned teachers from the past and some even today? Here lies the root of heresies; I want to do it my way, a new way,a modern way. This is what Adam, Eve,Cain desired also. This is why God set up a heirarchy of command and it is patriarchial, meaning here , that it is the elders of society, the church, that should be listened to. Every child, and our culture is a childish culture, thinks it knows better than their parents or the society that came before them.

Posted by: Fred on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It has been suggested in this thread that possibly emergent will be the next move of Willow Creek. It has also been brought out that these two movements (seeker sensitive and emergent) are diametrically opposed. Many may think these two movements are "fighting" each other, but in truth they are both just man-centered nonsense. A case in point; the seeker sensitive church I used to attend (still very seeker sensitive) now has a full-blown emergent "service" as one of it's weekend events. So, they are certainly not opposing each other. Instead, they seem to be feeding off each other.

Posted by: Jim W on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

I question the purported fact that the new direction of Willow Creek is a result of Hybels internal study.

One thing about the church in the post modern era that has amazed me is the apparent total lack of concern for poll results about itself. I have detected little concern over the abysmal failure in its ability to deal effectively with such fundamental issues as divorce, and youth apostasy and the need for an overhaul in the status quo of today's evangelical faith goes virtually unnoticed.

This is why I do not believe that the initiation of the new direction at Willow Creek was in truth a result of the internal poll conducted there. I think there is more to this than meets the eye.

Hybels did not seem to me to be authentically disturbed by the ostensibly startling results. I think he found a solid, plausable reason to shift gears, feigning "I tried my best," while wooing his sympathetic congregation in the pursuit of a new, more profitable, and, I think, predetermined direction.

Posted by: 777law on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Repentance? From a viper? Repentance from a man whose #1 god is himself and the #2 god is the "church" he runs? Oh please!!!

The only "repentance" here is in the fact that B H no longer occupies the top spot in "evangelical" circles.

Like John the Baptist said: "bear fruits worthy of repentance", as in a public renouncement for all heresy that has come from your mouth; as in resign from W C and if you really are God's man to proclaim His Gospel then let's hear it, for up until now all we get from you is church this and church that.

How many people will fall for this latest pronouncement from a wolf pretending to be a leader of God's elect? Bill Hybels has only one problem---he is lost. Maybe we should pray accordingly.

Posted by: Darrel on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Brent (above) brings up some good points about Willow being blown around by market studies constantly. This is what their church was founded on (neighborhood surveys), and now they are "changing" based on new polling data. Is that the way church leaders should be making such major decisions?


Posted by: Jim B. on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"Bill Hybels has only one problem---he is lost. Maybe we should pray accordingly."

I don't know that he's lost. Never would say that.

I agree he's human-centered, and his value for human life is greater than his value for truth. Does that make him lost? Not for me. I would love to meet the man and hear his testimony of his salvation, and what he believes the Gospel is.

Posted by: donsands on Tuesday, October 23, 2007

donsands, I too wouldn't make the outright claim of BH being lost, but it does give me pause to wonder how he got to where he is...

Is being faithful and preaching the unadulterated gospel so hard to do? I think not...here is just one example:


That's the blog of a brother in Christ who lives in Canada, and preaches in all weather conditions, week in and week out, faithfully.

It's not a tough concept.

It CAN be done. No huge

Posted by: bob on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I hope that everyone can understand why these men and women are human-centered. Indeed they are, but they can not think in terms other than this human-centerdness. They have been educated and made to think in this kind of paradigm. Yes , when we become born again we are to renew our minds, that is to change our thinking and think as Christ would have us think. We are to think with the mind of Christ. The problem is that far too many Christians today accept worldly wisdom as a gift from God. They see nothing wrong with using our "God given" intellect, especially since it is being continueously magnified in the progression of man's understanding {Darwinism-Scientism}. So if "God" has granted men the ability to understand marketing, social polling, social categorising, personality profiling, and how to live in a pluralised world peacefully {Purpose Driven TM}, then it must be good. The old ways must be questioned and run through the seive of contemporarianism, pragmatism, relativism, etc for these are the modern tools given to an enlightened mankind through progression and acummulated knowledge. This is what they believe and this is how they understand life. They believe that, because they are Christian, they can now use these tools , the world's tools, and be impervious to any possibility that these tools may just be wrong, even though they exist. The strength of Man is therefore used in conjunction with the power of God {pragmatism}.

I also believe this stems from a Arminian view of man. If man is a free from any compulsion in his will, then what man does can be either good or bad and we are allowed to make the choice and determine which is which, according to our own understanding and will. Instead of looking at the ways of man as being evil continueously because his thoughts are continueously evil they become undiscerning in the use of any of man's ways. They only see the outside and not the philosophical thought behind these ways and tools. They have become owners of the philosophical thought propagated through education, media , etc. They refuse to follow the ancient paths because the philosophical assumption is that we are more progressive than the ancients , therefore wiser and smarter. As I said before, it is rebellion.We can not think or do good unless we are in total obedeince to God. We must run all our thoughts and actions through the mind and commands of God, not God through our wisdom and undersatnding

What can we do? Pray for them. Satan has so deceived this age. These leaders are only teaching and doing what they have been taught both in school and in contemporary living. They have uncrtically accepted the worlds ways because they have not given up all yet for God. Only God can renew their minds and if they choose to stay in a state of rebellion , then God will deal with them just as He did the Israelites. Ignorance of the Truth is no excuse. Understandable , but unexusable. So here we stand.

Posted by: Fred on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Has Bill Hybels taken his cue from Rick Warren or does Rick Warren take his cue from Bill Hybels? There is some very shifty stuff going on in those characters lives imo. I don't trust them, especially when there is no true biblical repentance evident and all they say is "Oh, we made a mistake." Phooey!!! Where is their repentance of sin and of the terrible waste of millions of dollars of God's money (given by trusting, naive people) basically poured down the drain through their grandiose ideas at Willow Creek? Their huge auditoriums, with theater seating and coffee cup holders? Cost a lot of dough to run those outfits I reckon, be tuff going when not many turn up for their performances, eh? Panic stations! Bankruptcy. Scary.

"Because Saddleback is a young church and I am the founding pastor, we've been able to experiment with far more ideas than the average church-mostly due to the fact that we didn't have decades of tradition to deal with. (However we had many other problems that older churches don't have!) In the early years we had nothing to lose, so we tried all kinds of ideas. Some of our ideas were spectacular failures. And I wish I could claim that all our successes happened just the way we planned them-but it would be untrue. I'm not that smart. Most of our successes have been the result of trial and error and some of our discoveries were purely accidental.

One of my favorite movies is Raiders of the Lost Ark. At one cliff-hanging point in the story someone asks Indiana Jones, "What are we going to do now?" Jones replies, "How do I know? I'm making it up as we go along!" I have felt like that many many times as pastor at Saddleback. We'd make up something and if it worked, we'd pretend as though we'd planed it all along!

Mark Twain once said dryly, "I knew man who grabbed a cat by the tail and learned forty percent more about cats than the man who didn't." We've been grabbing a cat by the tail since the beginning at Saddleback Church-and we have the cuts and scars to prove it.

The truth is, we've tried more things that didn't work at Saddleback than did. We've never been afraid of failure; we just call everything an "experiment." I could fill another book with stories of our failures and call it A 1000 Ways To NOT Grow a Church!" - pages 28-29 The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren

We'd make up something and if it worked, we'd pretend as though we'd planed it all along!

That's being a tad duplicitous of them isn't it? That's lying isn't it, making out something is true when in actual fact it isn't true? Rick Warren built his church on those methods????

Where in the Bible doers it say to experiment with all sorts of ideas to build Christ's Church? Try this method, try that method, so on and so forth? I thought the blueprint is in the Scriptures and Jesus Christ builds his Church?

Have Mr. Hybels and Mr. Warren been to the same church growth school or something in the past? Oh! Robert Schuller's! That's it. I see. The jig-saw puzzle is starting to come together, I am starting to see the big picture. These blokes have been building their own empires for years and not the Church of the LORD Jesus Christ, as it is only the LORD Jesus Christ that builds His church and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. Praise the LORD for that!!!

Posted by: Douglas on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

There is a scary secret no one wants to talk about out loud and is the reason for this survey about spiritual maturity. (My question is how does Hybels define spiritual maturity?)

The secret is that most seeker mega's that grew like wildfire during the 80's and 90's are maxing out. And they know it. I am talking about the really big ones...that have reported 20-30,000 members in the past. About the only exception to this is Joel Osteen.

They have been trying a whole bunch of methods: Small groups. Then neighborhood groups (with a CD and workbook for faciliation), then taking over smaller churches and now building satellite campi. They have added cafe's, virtual libraries, and every activity under the sun.

Some are trying emergent type services and groups. And most are really ramping up their kids/youth programs becasue that helps to bring in adults.

They are in denial. They are building new buildings while on the decline. Why? Because they are market driven and consumers are fickle.

The bottom line is that they are in trouble over the long term and they know it. Just the heating/ac bill in some of these monstrosities is more than some make in a year!

As they get more and more desperate, look for more of this to occur. It will bring people back in for the short term.

Posted by: Lin on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

I have watched the videos and been observing the emerging church movement for a long time. My conviction was that it was not godly, but a worldly way of doing church. The methodology does not change that much over time as the word of God never changes. Bill needs to get back into his bible and on his knees before God asking Him what needs to change rather than just polling churches and their congregations. He still will miss the meaning of those results as they have missed the meaning of the current results of their own congregation. God is calling His people back to a deep devotion to Him and in doing so diving into His word deeper as well. Keep turning the light on for the readers and the so called "seekers".

Posted by: scott on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A very good audio broadcast on the topic:

Issues, Etc. KFUO Host: Todd Wilken "Willow Creek's Admission of a Failure to Meet the Spiritual Needs of Many of Their Members" Chris Rosebrough ExtremeTheology.Com KFUO WMA audio KFUO MP3 audio

It sounds like Bill Hybels and Willow Creek are calling on Brian McLaren for assistance. From the frying pan into the fire?

Willow Creek Members - Lititz Grace, LCBC, Others - WARNING!

Posted by: Douglas on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Higher up in the string Jim brings up "pastors" who think that doctrines like the trinity have no practical use. Let's see if that is true. Here is a quote form my blog.

"The God of the Bible is a relational being. He not only has relationships with His creatures, but He has relationship within the Godhead. God is not one person, but three… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. All three are equal in essence, yet each one has a different role. While all three are equal in essence, all three are not equal in authority. The Son is not His own authority, but is under the authority of His Father. The Holy Spirit is not His own authority, but is under the authority of both the Father and the Son.

God created man in His own image. He created both men and women in His image. When we go back to Genesis 1:26 God says: "Let us make man in our image." He does not say "let me make man in my image", but "let us make man in our image." God is not one person but three: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The human family is made up of three basic types of persons: Husbands, wives, and children. All three are equal in essence, but all three hold different places in the economy of the family. God's perfect plan for the family is for it to exist in relationship, in perfect harmony, even as the Trinity exists in perfect harmony.

Then something happened! Sin entered the world, and with it the curse. The image of God in man was marred, twisted, broken. The relationship of marriage, which God had designed to be peaceful and harmonious, was replaced with a power struggle. Each individual no longer looked out for the interests of others, but only for their own selfish desires. Harmony was replaced with rebellion against authority, and the rod and fist enforced authority.

Christ died to redeem a people unto Himself. Part of redemption is a reversal of the curse. This reversal of the curse isn't something that only happens in heaven, but in this life also. We are to put off the old man, the man who is under the curse, and "put on the new man, who in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of truth." (Ephesians 4:24) As we put off the old man and put on the new man we return to God's perfect plan, to the plan that includes harmonious marriages, but to do that we must obey Jesus Christ by seeking to emulate Him."

Posted by: Dan R. on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

RW: "In the early years we had nothing to lose, so we tried all kinds of ideas. Some of our ideas were spectacular failures. And I wish I could claim that all our successes happened just the way we planned them-but it would be untrue. I'm not that smart. Most of our successes have been the result of trial and error and some of our discoveries were purely accidental."

Fred Responds: To me this shows a total lack of respect for history and the fathers before us. It is if as he could not find a model from the past that would be "relevant" to the needs of his young church. What if we ran our families that way? Do we as parents allow our children just to learn on their own, making trial and error their sole manner of learning? Most of the time "trial and error" learning is a result of disobedience and/or pride. {I tried and I errored. Should have listened.}

I really do not buy the trial and error comment anyways. He took "expert" advise and did what the world told him to do. It failed because it was not of God, but of the power of man. This was only a dialectical comment to illicit sympathy. it was a position of "You were wrong" vs "I sincerely tried" synthesiesd into "lets move on for the sake of peace and love". I see no real repentance unto God, just a 'sorry and woops' to his own people. He shows no intent to walk the ancient paths. as far as I can garner. I pray I am wrong.

PS: check out all the "I's" and "our's" in his samll paragraph.

Posted by: Fred on Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Yeah, it's sort of silly to even talk about whether "we have use for the Trinity" or not. The question ought to be more like, what use does the Triune God have for us? Strange times we live in.


Posted by: Jim B. on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Another example of a “useless” doctrine being useful is unconditional election. Election is unconditional, but does that make God’s love unconditional?

“Know this for sure, that no sexually immoral person, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words. For because of these things, the wrath of God comes on the children of disobedience. Therefore don’t be partakers with them.” Ephesians 5:5-7

That doesn’t sound like unconditional love to me, not in the modern pop-psych meaning at least. God elects those He love’s unconditionally, then fulfills the conditions of His love (atonement and repentance) in and for them through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. A misunderstanding of unconditional election either results in people who are trying to make themselves acceptable to God through their own efforts, or people who believe that God accepts them “just the way they are”, and therefore they can do anything they want.

“My little children, I write these things to you so that you may not sin. If anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world.” 1 John 2:1,2

Posted by: Dan R. on Wednesday, October 24, 2007

>Too bad that some of these churches who already purchased the multiple hundred dollar "program" to follow the Hybels plan will have to throw it out, and buy version 2.

I wonder if there's a call center in India that provides support.

I found out this week that my church is in the Willow Creek Association. No idea how long that's been the case, and I don't recall it being voted upon.

Posted by: chuck bridgeland on Thursday, October 25, 2007

Our church is in the WC association and no it wasn't voted on or publicized. This past summer, our pastor publically stood up and repented of some leadership decisions that were not scriptual and we have entered into a serious time of preaching, dealing with sin, and holiness and yet...part of our church hangs on to it's "pragmatism". Just this week, we received the following website http://www.revealnow.com/index.asp and told we are going to participate in a survey about what works and what doesn't and what we like and what we don't. I can tell you if I picked and choose what I liked - I'd be in a lot more trouble than I am. Thanks be to God for the Holy Spirit that convicts me and leads me to repentance. Pray for individual churches, like mine, and for the bride of Christ that we would recognize our calling and live worthy of it.

Posted by: jake on Friday, October 26, 2007


They actually claim to be seeker-obsessed.


Posted by: johnMark on Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I could not diagree more with this post. How can you read what he said and come to this conclusion?

Hybels clearly said, "We are starting with a blank sheet of paper."

This is not some scam to start a new program. It is a humble critique of himself and his ministry!

Which is something not enough pastors are willing to do! He is one of ther most infuential pastors in America and yet he is humble enough to come out and say, "we were wrong."

Of course, we all were saying he was wrong all along, but I think your post was extremely arrogant and proud.

Posted by: Matt Svoboda on Friday, November 02, 2007

And you seem a little gullable Matt. You say the reason we are wrong is because Hybels says so? He claims he's starting with a blank sheet of paper, so that must be the case then, huh. You are not a relative of his are you? :-)

Update 11/4/07: The evidence that Bill Hybels is up to some sort of premeditated paradigm shift (rather than a blank sheet of paper) continues to roll in.


Posted by: Jim B. on Friday, November 02, 2007

Matt, Jim isn't the only one with this opinion! Try lighthousetrailsresearch. They say alot more about Hybels and his new bent into mysticism. Because he is influential, everyone needs to be warned. His methods will be coming soon to your church.

Posted by: Sherry C. on Saturday, November 03, 2007

I find all of this so sad. I was a member of a church that was starting to fall under the same structure as Willow Creek. Our mission statement even used the "fully devoted follower of Christ" mantra.

Through a series of circumstances, God moved my family into a church that preaches the Word of God (true meat) each Sunday. I am so grateful! In our case, it wasn't that we weren't hearing the Word of God in our old church, but it was more of the "milk" ...

I don't want to sound like I am persecuting another brother in Christ. It is just very sad that people think the Word and the Holy Spirit aren't enough. As I have said for years, Jesus wasn't afraid of offending people. His Word always makes darkness tremble. What do darkness and light have in common?

God help us (the "Church") hear from Him clearly and not grieve the Holy Spirit. We need His direction each day.

Posted by: Beth on Monday, November 05, 2007

Post a Comment



   Home  |   About  |  RSS Feed  |  Contact






Church Growth Movie
Wonderful Plan?
Me Church
Amusing Goats?
Only the Good News?
Jumbotron Challenge
The History of Man
Jesus Not Doctrine?
Bible's Value To You
Evangelism Shortcuts?
Saved by MY Decision
So Easily Deceived
Marketing of Messiah
The Verse Feels Good
To Me The Bible Says
Creeds - No Need?
The Spirit Told Me
Deeds Not Creeds?
WHY We Don't Agree



Blogs and Sites
James White
A Puritan's Mind
Puritan Sermons
Spurgeon Archives
Reformantion Ink
Tom Ascol (Founders)
Historic Creeds
Bible Bulletin Board
Tom Chantry
Emerging Dangers
Don Kistler
Shepherd Scrapbook
Museum of Idolatry
Strange Baptist Fire
Steve Camp
Truth Matters
Bob DeWaay
Nathan White
Grace Gems
Tom in The Box
Top Books
The Holiness of God, Sproul
Redefining Christianity
- (also on MP3)
The Soul Winner, Spurgeon
  No Place For Truth, David Wells
The Christian's Reasonable Service
  Sketches From Church History 
Emerging Church, Carson
  Evangelicalism Divided, Murray
Gospel According to Jesus, MacArthur
  Chosen By God, Sproul
Redemption: Accomplished and Applied, Murray
  Meet The Puritans
Puritan Reformed Spirituality
Audio Teachings
  White Horse Inn 
  Renewing Your Mind (Sproul) 
Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust $ 
  The Dividing Line (Aomin)
Wild Boar
  Grace To You
Handout Church History, 39 MP3's $ 
  Monergism Audio
Audio Sermons
Charles Spurgeon
  Joel Beeke
Boynton Beach
  PRBC Phoenix 
  Twin Cities Fellowship


Copyright 2005-2008 (C) OldTruth.com
No Duplication permitted without permission by owner