Bill Hybels

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

William Hybels (1951-) is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, one of the most attended churches in North America, with an average attendance of nearly 24,000 as of 2011. The church has been listed as the most influential church in America for the last several years in a national poll of pastors. He is the founder of the Willow Creek Association and creator of the Global Leadership Summit. Hybels is also an author of a number of Christian books, especially on the subject of Christian leadership.

Hybels and Willow Creek Community Church

In 1971, Bill Hybels, youth pastor at Park Ridge's South Park Church, started a youth group with friend Dave Holmbo called Son City. Modern music, dramatic skits and multimedia were combined with Bible studies in relevant language helped the group grow from 25 to 1,200 in just three years.

After 300 youth waited in line to be led to Christ in a service in May 1974, Hybels and other leaders began dreaming of forming a new church. They surveyed the community to find out why people weren't coming to church. Common answers included: "church is boring", "they're always asking for money", or "I don't like being preached down to." These answers shaped the group's approach to the new church.

In 1975 the group held their first service in Palatine's Willow Creek Theater. One hundred and twenty-five people attended the service. Within two years the church had grown to 2,000.

Challenges in 1979 led to a recommissioning of the church's vision to be broader and deeper than before. Hybels apologized for the example of his relentless schedule and overemphasis on grace. "We've set up all our leadership structures and goals to grow a full functioning Acts 2 community, as opposed to just an evangelizing machine that doesn't drive the roots down deep and do all the other things it's supposed to do."

In 1981 the church moved to its current location in South Barrington. By 2000, 15,000 were attending weekly services over six weekend services. In 2004, the new Worship Center was opened. With a capacity of more than 7,000, the state-of-the-art auditorium is one of the largest theaters in the United States and the church currently averages 24,000 attendees per week, making it the third largest church in America.

Willow Creek Community Church has become well known as the prototypical megachurch, with contemporary worship, drama and messages focused toward both Christians and those exploring the Christian faith. Willow Creek's three weekend services were more "seeker sensitive", but have now become less so, since the "Reveal Study" which showed members desiring a deeper dive focused on scripture and spiritual growth. Most recently (September 2011), Willow brought an even deeper dive into scripture by promoting Shane Farmer as Discipleship Director, and having him lead the Mid-week experience, meeting on Wednesday evenings.

On July 1, 2010, Hybels introduced President Barack Obama for a speech on immigration reform.

Misconduct allegations and resignation in 2018

March 23: The Chicago Tribune published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Hybels spanning decades. The article reported that Hybels had engaged in a prolonged affair with a married woman; however, this allegation was retracted by the woman herself. The Tribune wrote that the elders of Willow Creek had conducted an internal review of Hybels' behavior which led to no findings of misconduct; following this report, at least three leaders of the Willow Creek Association board reportedly resigned their posts because they believed the inquiry to have been insufficient. All accusations have been denied by Hybels.

Hybels had planned to retire in October 2018 to focus his energy on the Willow Creek Association.

April 10: Hybels announced that he was resigning effective immediately, stating he didn't want to be a distraction to the church's ministry. He also announced that he would leave the board of the Willow Creek Association and would no longer lead Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit.

April 21: The Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported more misconduct allegations not included in the initial investigation. In response, the Willow Creek elders stated their intent to examine reports regarding "allegations that have not been previously investigated by the Elder Board."

May 9: The Willow Creek Board of Elders released a statement that indicated that the Board "[does] not believe the stories were all lies or that all the [accusers] were colluding against him."

August 5: The New York Times published allegations from a former employee of Hybels, who alleges that he repeatedly sexually harassed her in the 1980s.

August 7: Steve Carter, one of the two lead pastors who would have taken over leadership at Willow Creek, tendered his resignation, citing the untenable position he's in given the church's inadequate attention to the matter once Hybels' indiscretions became known. The following day, on the eve of the Global Leadership Summit, Heather Larson, the other lead pastor, also resigned, and the members of the elder board have stated they will step down by the end of the year. Steve Gillen, lead pastor of Willow Creek’s North Shore campus, will assume interim leadership as the church rebuilds.


Books which he has authored or made a contribution to include:

  • Honest to God? Becoming an Authentic Christian (1992)
  • Fit to be Tied: Making Marriage Last a Lifetime (and Lynne Hybels) (1993)
  • Descending Into Greatness (1994)
  • Too Busy Not to Pray (1994)
  • Who You Are When No One's Looking (1995)
  • The Real You (1996)
  • Becoming a Contagious Christian (and Mark Mittelberg) (1996)
  • Transparency (1997)
  • Rediscovering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church (and Lynne Hybels) (1997)
  • Making Life Work: Putting God's Wisdom Into Action (1998)
  • How to Hear God (1999)
  • 1 Peter: Stand Strong (1999)
  • Philippians: Run the Race. (1999)
  • James: Live Wisely (1999)
  • Romans: Find Freedom (1999)
  • Engraved on Your Heart: Living the Ten Commandments Day by Day (2000)
  • Revelation: Experience God's Power (2001)
  • Sermon on the Mount 1: Connect with God (2001)
  • Sermon on the Mount 2: Connect with Others (2001)
  • Courageous Leadership (2002)
  • Finding God in the Storms of Life (2002)
  • Courageous Faith Through the Year (and Keri Wyatt Kent) (2004)
  • The Pastor's Guide to Personal Spiritual Formation (and Reginald Johnson, Neil B. Wiseman) (2004)
  • The Volunteer Revolution (2004)
  • Authenticity: Being Honest with God and Others (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Character: Reclaiming Six Endangered Qualities (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Commitment: Developing Deeper Devotion to Christ (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Community: Building Relationships Within God's Family (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Essential Christianity: Practical Steps for Spiritual Growth (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Fruit of the Spirit: Living the Supernatural Life (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Getting a Grip: Finding Balance in Your Daily Life (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Jesus: Seeing Him More Clearly (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Lessons on Love: Building Deeper Relationships (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Living in God's Power: Finding God's Strength for Life's Challenges (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Love in Action: Experiencing the Joy of Serving (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Marriage: Building Real Intimacy (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Meeting God: Psalms for the Highs and Lows of Life (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • New Identity: Discovering Who You Are in Christ (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Parenting: How to Raise Spiritually Healthy Kids (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Prayer: Opening Your Heart to God (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Reaching Out: Sharing God's Love Naturally (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Significance: Understanding God's Purpose for Your Life (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • The Real Deal: Discover the Rewards of Authentic Relationships (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Transformation: Letting God Change You from the Inside Out (and Kevin Harney) (2005)
  • Just Walk Across the Room: Simple Steps Pointing People to Faith (2006)
  • Holy Discontent: Fueling the Fire That Ignites Personal Vision (2007)
  • When Leadership and Discipleship Collide (2007)
  • Axiom: Powerful Leadership Proverbs (2008)
  • The Power of a Whisper: Hearing God, Having the Guts to Respond (2010)
  • Courageous Leadership: Field-Tested Strategy for the 360° Leader (2012)
  • Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs (2012)
  • The Call to Lead: Following Jesus and Living Out Your Mission (2012) with John Ortberg and Dan B. Allender
  • Sermon Preparation (2012) with Timothy Keller, Jeffrey Arthurs, Mark Driscoll, Kent Hughes, Dave Stone, Scott Weng and more
  • Life Lessons from Jesus: 36 Bible Studies for Individuals or Groups (2014) with John Ortberg
  • Wiser Together Study Guide: Learning to Live the Right Way (2014) with Shane Farmer and Todd Katter
  • The Road We Must Travel: A Personal Guide for Your Journey (2014), by Francis Chan, Eugene Peterson, Mark Buchanan, Gordon MacDonald
  • Ministry Essentials Bible -KJV (2015)
  • Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul (2015)
  • The God You're Looking For (2015)
  • Leading from Here to There Study Guide: Five Essential Skills (2016)

Lynne Hybels

Lynne Hybels is the wife of Bill Hybels.  The views expressed in her blog, articles and advocacy roles flow from her personal convictions; they may or may not reflect the official positions of Willow Creek Community Church or the Willow Creek Association.

From posted on October 31, 2011:

Intimations of an Astounding Destinyp

Meister Eckhart wrote, “As thou art in church or cell, that same frame of mind carry out into the world, into its turmoil and its fitfulness.” Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continually return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us with intimations of an astounding destiny, calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions, gladly committing ourselves in body and soul, utterly and completely, to the Light Within, is the beginning of true life. It is a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us. It is a Light Within that illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the human face. It is a seed stirring to life if we do not choke it. It is the Shekinah [Hebrew for the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God and his cosmic glory] of the soul, the Presence in the midst. Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all.”

With this paragraph Quaker scholar Thomas Kelly opens his profound little book, A Testament of Devotion. I first read this book during a time of deep spiritual emptiness—a crisis of faith, really, during which I had reached the limits of my tolerance for a soulless Christianity. Kelly spoke to my soul and drew me toward the soulful Christ. I return to Kelly during periodic episodes of spiritual weariness, such as I am experiencing now. Life has been good and ministry has been fruitful, but for too long my days have pushed me a bit too much “out there,” leaving little time and internal space for pondering and prayer. I feel disconnected from unseen realities.

So I pick up Kelly again. And other trusted soul-friends. Brother Lawrence and The Practice of the Presence of God. Dallas Willard and The Divine Conspiracy. Scot McKnight and Praying with the Church. Brian McLaren and Naked Spirituality. N.T. Wright and his latest release, Simply Jesus.

After I read, I close my eyes and listen to A New Liturgy: God is Love—described by its producer, Aaron Niequist, as “a moveable, sonic sanctuary.” For the next twenty-five minutes my office, my kitchen or my car becomes a place where my soul is nourished and my mind refreshed. (Check out A New Liturgy at )

From :

For the last ten years, first at Mars Hill Church [founded by Mark Driscoll in Seattle] and now at Willow Creek Church, Aaron has been trying to invite people into a worship journey that moves beyond singing songs. Singing is a wonderful practice, but only one piece of what it can look like to worship God in spirit and truth. However, as Aaron tried to create something "new", he discovered that many have had this figured out for generations and generations. They call it "The Liturgy".
Number 6 of these new liturgies is The Examen. It is "a 28 minute journey to help us find God’s fingerprints in our actual life". The Jesuit Father Michael Sparough guides and teaches on Ignatius Loyola's The Examen.



Willow Creek Community Church

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Willow Creek Community Church (or simply Willow Creek Church) is a non-denominational, multi-generational Evangelical Christian megachurch located in the Chicago suburb of South Barrington, Illinois. It was founded in 1975 by Bill Hybels, who is currently the senior pastor. The church has three weekend services averaging 24,000 attendees, making it the third-largest church in the United States. The church has been listed as the most influential church in America the last several years in a national poll of pastors. Willow Creek's state-of-the-art Worship Center (completed in 2004 at an estimated cost of $73 million) seats 7,095 people.

the Willow Creek Association

In 1992 Hybels launched the Willow Creek Association (WCA) to link like-minded, action-oriented churches with each other and with strategic vision, training, and resources. Hybels is currently chairman of the board for the WCA. "When God transforms the life of just one leader, that leader can transform a church. When one church is transformed, you can transform a community. And when enough churches are thriving, you can affect a region, a country, and eventually the entire world with the positive, life-changing power of Jesus Christ and the redeeming and restoring work of his people." - Bill Hybels

WCA is an international, evangelical Christian association of more than 9,000 member churches from 90 denominations and 45 countries.

WCA President Jim Mellado describes WCA as follows: "Since 1992, the Willow Creek Association has been linking like-minded, action-oriented churches with each other and with strategic vision, training, and resources. Our desire is to serve local church leaders in building biblically functioning churches that reach increasing numbers of lost people, not just with innovations from Willow Creek, but with God-given breakthroughs with widespread potential from any church in the world."

The Global Leadership Summit

Hybels started the Global Leadership Summit (hosted by the Willow Creek Association) in 1995 as an annual training event for church, ministry and other leaders to sharpen their skills. The Global Leadership Summit exists to transform Christian leaders around the world with an injection of vision, skill development, and inspiration for the sake of the local church. Summit 2010 attracted 122,000 leaders.

The Global Leadership Summit 2011 videocast events took place from late September through January 2012 and were planned to reach 268 cities within 75 countries. The Summit is translated into 34 languages. Over 165,000 leaders from over 20,000 churches worldwide experienced the 2011 Summit.

Each year this event features experts in the arena of leadership in lecture and interview formats, plus worship and dramas. Past speakers have included the U2 singer Bono (2006 and 2009), Ken Blanchard (2000 and 2005), Rob Bell (2000), Rick Warren (2005), John Ortberg (2002, 2007, 2008 and 2012), Erwin McManus (2003, 2011), Craig Groeschel (2008, 2010, 2012, 2015), Bill Clinton (2000), Jimmy Carter (2007) and Tony Blair (2009).

The Practice

"The Practice is an experimental gathering at Willow Creek Community Church where we immerse ourselves in God’s dream for humanity, practice the historic disciplines that align us with His dream, and carry each other along the way. We are learning to live out Jesus’ teachings in the world."

The Practice started 7th of April 2015 and is scheduled for most Sundays. It is the brainchild of Aaron Niequist.


  • Aaron Niequist (3/100). Aaron is married to Bill and Lynne Hybel's daughter Shauna. Aaron is also the Worship Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church. He was earlier a worship leader at Rob Bell's Mars Hill Church.  His book The Eternal Current (2018) is endorsed by Richard Rohr and Fr. J. Michael Sparough, SJ (the spiritual director for Aaron).
  • Shauna Niequist (2/100).  Married to Aaron Niequist and daughter of Bill and Lynne Hybels.
  • The Jesuit Fahter Michael Sparough (7/100). He currently serves on the staff as a retreat master at the Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House, Barrington, IL. He guided through the practice of Prayer of Examen and the Jesuit practice of The Prayer of Imagination  He is the spiritual director for Aaron Niequist.
  • Kellye Fabian (5/100). She is a contemplative activist with a background from St. Ignatius College.
  • Ruth Haley Barton (1/100). Ruth holds a Doctor of Divinity from Northern Theological Seminary (Lombard, IL), along with a Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College (IL) and Master's studies at Loyola University Chicago Institute for Pastoral Studies. She received her training in spiritual direction through the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation (Bethesda, MD) under the guidance of Tilden Edwards, Rosemary Dougherty and Gerald May.  Her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence (2010) has a foreword by Dallas Willard and is endorsed by Tilden Edwards.
  • Mark Scandrette (3/100).
  • Scot McKnight (1/100).


 "For centuries, the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola have been widely practiced for formation in Christlikeness. It is an invitation to a profoundly personal encounter with Jesus, fostering a deeper relationship with him and the freedom to join his work in the world. This fall we will begin a journey inspired by the Exercises."


Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

 [28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” English Standard Version]

  • Bill Hybels in The Volunteer Revolution: Unleashing the Power of Everybody, p. 13: ... God is ... filling his followers with grace and mercy and power to reclaim and redeem and fix this broken planet.

  • Bill Hybels participated on Peter Drucker Summit Conference, YMCA of the Rockies, August, 1986.
  • Bob Buford: The first Foundation conference was held in Dallas and was the beginning of a partnership between Bob and Linda, Leadership Network and Willow Creek Community Church.
  • Conference speeches of Bob Buford, Shane Claiborne, Dan Kimball, Scot McKnight, Brian McLaren, Erwin McManus, Donald Miller, John Ortberg, Rick Warren, Dallas Willard and N T Wright are sold as Resources at Willow Creek Association.
  • Bill Hybels was an early member in the Leadership Network. With the aid of Buford and Drucker’s counsel he built Willow Creek to more than 20,000 parishioners.
  • Brennan Manning’s book Ruthless Trust was #9 on Seeds Bestseller List July 2001. (Willow Creek website)
  • Brennan Manning’s book A Glimpse of Jesus was front cover endorsed by Bill Hybels.
  • Bill Hybels in his book Honest to God uses M. Scott Peck as a positive resource from The Road Less Traveled and The Different Drum. Hybels also wrote an article for the Grand Rapids College newspaper entitled Truth Telling which favorably and extensively quoted Peck.
  • Richard Foster wrote the front cover endorsement on Dallas Willard's The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives (1999). Bill Hybels, Sue Monk Kidd wrote the back cover endorsements.
  • Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul (2015) is endorsed by John Ortberg and Craig Groeschel
  • Leadership Axioms: Powerful Leadership Proverbs (2012) is endorsed by Ken Blanchard.

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