The Sift Here’s what we’re Sifting today

Willow Creek leaders voice support for Hybels

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 3/26/18, 12:17 pm

Pastor Bill Hybels and leaders of Willow Creek Community Church, a multicampus megachurch in the metropolitan Chicago area, responded to accusations of pastoral misconduct in a meeting and at worship services over the weekend. The accusations against Hybels became public in a report released by the Chicago Tribune Thursday night, which interviewed people who said Hybels made suggestive comments, gave extended hugs, kissed one woman without permission, and had one extramarital affair, though the woman reportedly involved in the affair has since denied it happened. At a meeting Friday night, church elders told church members they knew about the accusations, hired outside counsel to investigate them, and found them unsubstantiated. “The accusations you hear in the Tribune are just flat-out lies,” Hybels said at the meeting, according to the Tribune. Pam Orr, the church’s highest-ranking elder, addressed questions about why leaders didn’t inform members of the inquiry into Hybels’ alleged misconduct earlier. “We had concluded in the first investigation that we found no evidence to support the allegation brought forward,” Orr said. “To bring that into full light, to bring that to the congregation just did not seem appropriate at the time.” At least three board members of the Willow Creek Association, a nonprofit organization affiliated with the church, resigned because they were unhappy over how the investigation was handled. At the Friday night meeting and Sunday worship services, Hybels received standing ovations from attendees. He said he plans to continue working at the church until his planned retirement in October.

Read more from The Sift Sign up for The Sift email
Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital's managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kansas. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • OldMike
    Posted: Mon, 03/26/2018 03:43 pm

    Satan will do what he can to bring down Christians, particularly effective leaders. This could be temptation that causes the leadership to sin. Or, this could be temptation to others to lie and say they saw sin where it did not occur. 

    Considering the investigation by church elders in this case, I’m inclined to think this is the second possibility. 

    Our prayers for Hybels, Willow Creek, and ALL Christian leaders are needed. 

  • JerryM
    Posted: Mon, 03/26/2018 04:40 pm

    Let me wade into what may have become politically incorrect waters even in Christendom.  How does a church have a female head ("highest ranking") elder and expect the enemy would not try to further extend his work in that church?  Does not any "liberal" interpretation and enactment of scripture come with consequences?

  • RC
    Posted: Mon, 03/26/2018 05:34 pm

    I remember seeing Mr. Hybels interview people at the Leadership Summit and seeing a tough not-let-you-off-the-hook mixed with let you down gently approach.  Mr. Hybels appears to be smart and quick which I expect can make working for him extremely difficult at times. Mr. Hybels appears to have a very demanding work ethic and probably expects that of his employees.  So I am confident there are a slew of resentful ex-employees.   

    There are a handful of women who have made damming accusations, but only in the news.  None appear to be willing to go on the record.  A long investigation by outside professionals turned up nothing.  But the result is that Mr. Hybels is being hanged in public opinion without a fair hearing.  I suspect that his retirement in October has been highly influenced by all of this.

    I am all for those guilty of abuse to children and women being charged and judged. I am glad the “Me too” movement has given the abused the courage to stand up and demand justice.  My concerned is that enemies of anyone who has great influence and power is going to get judged by the public unjustly, as those enemies leverage the “Me too” movement.  I have no idea if Mr. Hybels is guilty or not. If he is, ultimately, he has God to answer to, as we all do!          

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Fri, 03/30/2018 11:11 pm

    It is stuff like this that makes the dearth of accusations against Billy Graham all the more remarkable.