Hybels Still Mistaken

Bill HybelsThe Christianity Today Blog, Out of Ur, posted on Willow Creek Pastor Bill Hybels’ recent remarks that his seeker-sensitive research led them to make a “mistake.”

Here’s Hybels’ newsmaking confession:

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.

Can you see why I say Hybels is still mistaken? The answer to seeker-sensitive Christian consumerism isn’t “self-feeding.” I hear that this has already been the common advice given to attendees of the seeker-sensitive megachurches in my community. What many tell their consumers is that since we’re not going to talk a lot of doctrine from the stage (I can’t say, “from the pulpit”), you need to make sure you study on your own or among yourselves in your small groups. The star (aka, the pastor) is here to inspire us with motivational principles for living and entertain us with humorous autobiographical stories and illustration upon illustration, sandwiched between P&W sessions with the amps turned up to “11.”

Yes, I submit that Bill Hybels’ mea culpa is an example of a blind leader falling into a ditch. Up on the narrow road, were God to graciously grant him reformation, lies a neglected Bible, preached from a neglected pulpit, signified and sealed by neglected sacraments. The answer to seeker-sensitive demographic polling is what the Reformed call, “The Ministry of Word and Sacrament.”

Allow me to give you an idea of what I mean by introducing to you something I wrote several years ago as I was wrestling with this concept. It’s called “The Worshipers’ Creed and Prayer.”

We believe that sinners are justified by grace alone through faith alone

by means of the proclamation of Christ’s death for our sins

and his resurrection because of our justification (Romans 4:25),

signified and sealed to us in our baptism.


Likewise, we believe saints are sanctified by grace alone through faith alone

by means of the proclamation of Christ’s death for our sins

and resurrection unto our sanctification (Romans 6:4),

signified and sealed to us in the corporate observance of the Lord’s Supper.


Therefore, we believe the gospel is the agent of spiritual birth

by which the sinner comes to faith,

and also the agent of spiritual growth

by which his faith is nourished and strengthened.


So may we confess our sin in response to the application of the Law of God;

likewise may the gospel of Christ be thus proclaimed,

signified and sealed to us for our justification

and our sanctification until our glorification;

And so may we, out of gratitude for our justification,

and in hope of the glory of God,

glorify and praise our Savior,

as we gather for worship this Lord’s Day,

being afterward mindful to love one another, and our neighbor,

in the name of him who died for our sins,

that we might live in the power of his resurrection.


Since you’ll probably need further clarification, you may like to consult Part III of the PCA’s Book of Church Order, entitled, “The Directory for the Worship of God” (beginning on page 143 of the PDF file).




7 responses

  1. yes I can.

    He clearly is mistaken.

    I would hasten to say, so was the APOSTLE PAUL sorely mistaken before the Lord of Glory, Our Lord of Glory I might add had a few words with him.

    I too have had a few words with Him and I am now more likely to follow His every command after He gives it, not before.

    Just this morning as I was in my personal prayer time with Him I was saying, “Lord, this is fun and enjoyable, most of the time.

    It’s when people want to challenge Your Words that I am speaking, not that I am SPEAKING MY WORDS, just the look of murder and the words of hatred that come to me, well, Lord, I realize it is costly and I guess I am still in need of nerves of steel and a will as iron because I wilt to easily when conflict comes because of You.

    Couldn’t the conflict come because of me Lord, that is better for me to understand. I can understand punishment now and for all eternity because of my own failures and pleasures and success, but Lord, to have to suffer for no reason of my own, well Lord….

    But Lord, when the conflict comes because of Your Sovereign Grace being spoken through me, your spoken Word in the Power of the Holy Ghost and some hate me, all it does is settle the facts about me and You, You were hated when You spoke the Truth and so will I be hated in this world when I speak the Truth Spoken by You in this world.”

    Oh well, let us pray:



  2. Good words, Michael. Much conflict arises due to the fault of Christians. But woe to the one because of whom the conflict arises, unless it is Jesus about whom the conflict ariese. Sanctification and glory will come to the one who suffers conflict because of Jesus rather than because of his own unchristian words or deeds.

    It is because of the desire expressed in the prayer at the end of your comment that I posted on this topic. When we hear a megachurch leader confess a mistake, we genuinely want to see him turn in the right direction. How sad that it seems not to be the case with Hybels. As long as there’s life, there’s hope.

  3. Cap’n,

    I’m afraid that Hybels words reveal his view of the job description of a pastor/undershepherd. I’m afraid that self-feeding is the diet that is proposed all across the land. His job as CEO is simply visionary, and to enact another program. Sad.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  4. Gage,

    Sad indeed. Last weekend at the conference I attended, Sean Michael Lucas pointed out that Presbyterian/Reformed piety works from corporate worship as most basic, regular family worship second, and individual worship last. He made the point that modern evangelicalism has reversed this hierarchy, elevating individual worship above all other forms. Hybels’ mistakenness is symptomatic of this fundamental flaw.

  5. Cap’n,

    That is probably the best point I’ve heard in a long time.

    Gage Browning
    Post Tenebras Lux

  6. […] teaching or worship.” Willow Creek concluded from that, “Yep. We’ve gotta make people ‘self-feeders.’” We’ve got to make it where they don’t have to depend on the church, whereas, Jesus said, […]

  7. […] the record, here  and here were my responses back when the survey originally made the […]

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