Just a note to those falling all over themselves to say “I told you so” in response to the Bill Hybels/Willow Creek apology/confession: Don’t be lame.

It is most unhelpful. Okay, you were right all along (as you so gleefully want everyone to know). Now what?

One blog post I read was from a guy who, after pondering whether to credit Hybels for his very difficult announcement, decided “Nah. It’s too late.”

Well, look: Congratulations on your precognition. Now let’s figure out how to be graceful in our right-ness.

Exulting in the confession of failure of someone you expected to fail all along does not seem particularly Christlike to me, and if we’re going to make this about spiritual maturity . . . See where I’m going with that?

A request: If you’re going to rejoice in whatever you perceive someone’s failures to be, at least take a next step and offer some solutions to the problem.

Despite my own concerns with (my perception of) Willow Creek’s planned response to this development, I think Hybels’s announcement took tremendous courage and humility, and that is a success all Christ-followers ought to strive to emulate.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
– Philippians 2:3

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3 thoughts on “Triumphalism”

  1. DLE says:

    Jared,I hope that if you read my post on this you read it to the end.In many ways, the gloaters have some of the same problems. Yes, Willow Creek had a serious problem with generating the proper level of commitment in many of the people who wafted through the church. But they also had problems with communication within the hierarchy AND generating what it means to be a true community. The very nature of megachurches makes those last two a real trial.So, some churches have the commitment down more. I still don’t see that many churches that have a consistent flow of communication from the bottom to the top and vice versa. And we’re not all that great at community, either. Again, let’s fix our own problems.Still, this crash and burn at Willow Creek is astonishing. Yes, given them credit for standing up and saying, “We goofed.” But this, I believe, is the nail in the coffin for the Church Growth Movement. Since Willow Creek practically defined the Church Growth Movement, this is enormous because it calls the whole model into question. If Willow Creek can’t make the model work, then no one emulating Willow Creek will.

  2. Jared says:

    Dan, I did read your post all the way through. :-)You’re not who I had in mind with this post.I appreciate your analysis and your concerns resonate with me. While I share your concerns (and I’m pretty sure I share your values), I’m not sure I share your cynicism. I think there’s a great opportunity before us.

  3. DLE says:

    Jared,I hope I’m not being cynical. I’m simply concerned that Willow Creek’s new realization is going to become another programming point. I’ve been in these kinds of churches. Their laser-like focus on their model makes it almost impossible to change unless they blow the model up and start over.It reminds me a bit of the fable of the scorpion and the turtle. A scorpion needs to cross a river and asks a turtle to take him across. The turtle balks, knowing the scorpion’s got a killer sting. But the scorpion assures the turtle that all is well. He simply wishes to get to the other side of the river.So the turtle takes the scorpion on his back, but halfway across, the scorpion stings the turtle in the head. As paralysis sets and and both begin to drown in the river, the turtle asks, “Why?” To which the scorpion replies, “Sorry, but it’s what I was made to do.”That’s Willow Creek’s problem. Their model does what it is made to do. They’ve got to blow it up and get a new model. I don’t see that they’re willing to do that. And that’s a tragedy.

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Jared C. Wilson


Jared C. Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont. You can follow him on Twitter.

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