A Quote from Hybels

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : April 2, 2005

I just read this in an interview on Christianity Today.  Bill Hybels says:

Willow Creek started in the era when, as the book
noted, the church-growth people were saying, "Don’t dissipate any of
your energies fighting race issues. Focus everything on evangelism." It
was the homogeneous unit principle of church growth. And I remember as
a young pastor thinking, That’s true. I didn’t know whether I
wanted to chance alienating people who were seekers, whose eternity was
on the line, and who might only come to church one time. I wanted to
take away as many obstacles as possible, other than the Cross, to help
people focus on the gospel.

So now, 30 years later, as I read this book [United by Faith], I
recognize that a true biblically functioning community must include
being multiethnic. My heart beats so fast for that vision today. I
marvel at how na?ve and pragmatic I was 30 years ago.

My first reaction is "praise God!" It is good to see one of the largest proponents of the homongenous unit principle reject the principle.  My second reaction is one of consternation.  I get grumpy with the number of people I know who build something the easy way…taking the path towards quickest success, and then later try to become honest.  It is like the dieter who uses pills and slimfast to lose the weight and then tries to eat healthy after that.  It sets a horrible model for the rest of the Church, when people need how to start a multiethnic church in a healthy way.  The thing is, WIllow Creek, by exercise of might and is really moving towards multiethnicity…and they’ll probably write books about it and tell everyone else how to do it (and I guarantee they will).  The problem is, the example and experiences they’ll be offering will be mostly worthless. 

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8 Responses to “A Quote from Hybels”

  1. graham on April 2nd, 2005 11:51 am

    Ooh, great quote!

    Guarantee, they’ll be running conferences on multi-ethinic churches within 2 years. :-)

  2. Todd H on April 2nd, 2005 4:56 pm

    Well… yes, we will get everything Willow Creek foisted on us, maybe including a new “how to be multi-ethnic” workbook, but good for Hybels for having the guts to admit a mistake. There are probably plenty of others not yet willing to say something like that.

  3. Marlin on April 4th, 2005 1:56 am

    Interesting quote and great analysis. I always get frustrated with people who have made it one way and then say from their mighty position: it should all have been done different. If they would have done different, maybe they won’t be talking to me. So, thanks for the post.

  4. blorge on April 4th, 2005 10:08 am

    I think you’re being a little harsh in saying “The problem is, the example and experiences they’ll be offering will be mostly worthless.” Even if you were using hyperbole. For better or worse, they ’set the standard’ that massive numbers of people in Evangelicalism look up to. I’m nervous about giving that much “power” to one small group, but at least Hybels and others are willing to publically repent of erroneous thought.

    Missio Dei didn’t get everything perfect in the beginning. We’re still learning and growing so we should allow others to do so as well.

  5. Van S on April 4th, 2005 12:24 pm

    I guess I wasn’t clear enough. My point is that their experiences will be worthless because no one else can mirror their process. In other words, the way they arrive at at multiethnicity will be fundamentally unduplicateable. I am glad they are moving in the right direction. Where they come from doesn’t destroy the good they can do now. However, it is difficult to take them seriously as a guide in this area, since they made the change after amassing great resources and clout, and they made the change in such a way that only mega-churches can duplicate their process.

    So, my statement of their example being worthless is in regards to their contribution to church systems implementation, not in regards to their example being one worthy of emulation.

  6. pat k on April 4th, 2005 3:04 pm

    Very cool to hear Hybels saying this. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have the multi-ethnic thing figured out, and I agree that the way Willow Creek does it will be different than will work for us, but it’s nice to hear him say it.

  7. will on April 5th, 2005 1:54 pm

    “the example and experiences they’ll be offering will be mostly worthless” - wow, dude, that’s perhaps the most arrogant thing I have read today.

    I wonder if one of the reasons people think that the emerging church is nothing more than a group of men pissed off about the failures of evangelicalism and the church growth movement is because sometimes that is all we are. One of the lessons I am constantly having to learn is that I have no idea where God is at work. That I am part of work of God in this age, but perhaps not the only part.

  8. Van S on April 5th, 2005 5:36 pm

    Will, please read my clarification. By the way, I don’t consider myself emergent. I am pretty dang evangelical.

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