Rarely I have been more proud of a church leader than when Bill Hybels recently repented for doing church the wrong way. I love Bill's honesty and respect him even more than I did before his repentance.
I also found his confession deeply affirming. I have been endeavoring to teach, write, model and call pastors and leaders and fellow believers to do simple church by focusing on the basics.
Excellent programming and systems was the Willow Creek claim to fame. What Bill Hybels did was issue a public statement repenting for some of their leadership practices. After an in-depth evaluation of the success of their programs they had concluded that much of their programming had not resulted in true spiritual growth. Their conclusion was that a church that builds a dependency on programs for discipleship will ultimately fail. Bill and the Willow Creek team concluded that Bible study, prayer, discipleship and missional community are all practices that must be instilled into people in a way that makes them depend on God for growth. It always just comes back to the basics. You can't program the basics, you have to instill them into people through one-on-one personal discipleship in a small community of outward focused people.
Reading about Bill's repentance confirmed to me that we are on the right track in emphasizing the following three "basics" as the only foundation for training and discipling leaders and workers in the kingdom:
1. Love for God by cultivating a lifestyle of prayer, fasting and reading the Word
2. Love for each other as members of the same community by intentionally investing and discipling in one another
3. Love for those who do not yet follow Jesus
I would like to quote the following article from another website about the Willow Creek Repentance to give you more background.
May god strengthen us all in our commitment to live a life of simple yet focused obedience,
Willow Creek Repents?
Few would disagree that Willow Creek Community Church has been one of the most influential churches in America over the last thirty years. Willow, through its association, has promoted a vision of church that is big, programmatic, and comprehensive. This vision has been heavily influenced by the methods of secular business. James Twitchell, in his new book Shopping for God, reports that outside Bill Hybels