This morning, following the announcement of Pastor Bill Hybels last night, I suspect most of us just want to take a deep breath, exhale, and move on. This entire situation has been heartbreaking, divisive, and, frankly exhausting. All of us have jobs to do and families to lead.
In our culture we live with a rapid news cycle and a tiny attention span. We want the big picture, the bottom line, the headlines. This story, for most people, surfaced less than three weeks ago. But we all want it to be done. We want healing and reconciliation and a new day for the church, Willow and beyond.
So why can’t we just MOVE ON? Here’s why:
- The Womens’ Stories Are Not Yet Fully Told - There can be no healing until the truth is all brought into the light. I know you don’t want to hear this…..but there’s more to come. And we must not ignore the voices of these women or they will be abused all over again. Bill Hybels is not the victim here!
- There Can Be No Healing Without Repentance – Last night I heard no confession of deceit or admission of guilt for sexual misconduct. For the church and its leaders to move on there must be full ownership of what was sinful and flawed in the process. Only then can we hope for healing and restoration, for light to come from the darkness.
The goal for me was never connected to Bill resigning. The goal is to usher in the truth, to reveal an abuse of power that spans over 30 years, with women who are scarred and in some cases, terrified to come forward.
So here’s what I call all of us to do:
- Keep Leaning In -Take only one brief exhale and then buck up and prepare to head into the fray once again. This is a very complicated story. I have been wrestling with it for over three years. I call all of us to be thoughtful, to dig deep, to ask questions, to read fully. Resist the temptation to ignore the story or sum it all up in a quick sound bite.
- Keep Praying – ask God for wisdom to discern the truth and then for guidance for next steps.
- Be Slow to Speak and Quick to Listen – All of us need to slow down our responses, especially on social media, and be much more careful with our words. Let’s speak with civility.
God wants to bring healing and wholeness to Willow Creek and to all local churches. But that will not happen if we think last night was the final chapter. Eventually, if we seek the truth and respond with humility and repentance, there can be a New Day. But Not now. Not yet.