Friday, August 12, 2011

Who is Willow Creek trying to please?

The mega-church Willow Creek has some sort of leadership conference everywhere year, at which bizarrely the non-Christian CEO of Starbucks was scheduled to speak. Why? Who knows?

However, an online gay-rights advocacy group created a petition pressuring him not to speak, claiming that Willow Creek is anti-gay. After a whopping 717 people signed this petition, Howard Schultz withdrew from the conference. The senior pastor of Willow Creek issued the following statement (excerpt):

First, if the organizers of this petition had simply taken the time to call us, we would have explained to them (as we have to many others ) that not only is Willow not anti-gay, Willow not anti-anybody.

Our church was founded on the idea that people matter to God. All people. All people of all backgrounds, all colors, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. The mat at every door on this campus has always read “Welcome.” And for over 35 years we have flung the doors of this campus open to the widest array of humanity I have ever witnessed in the global church. And thousands--tens of thousands--have come to learn the teachings of Jesus. So to suggest that we check sexual orientation or any other kind of issue at our doors is simply not true. Just ask the hundreds of people with same-sex attraction who attend our church every week.

Now what is true is that we challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in the Scriptures--which encourages full sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage and prescribes sexual abstinence and purity for everybody else.

But even as we challenge all of our people to these biblical standards, we do so with grace-filled spirits, knowing the confusion and brokenness that is rampant in our fallen world. And at Willow we honor the journey of everyone who is sincerely attempting to follow Christ. So it’s unfortunate that we could not have explained this to those called us anti-gay and started this petition.

Some thoughts:

1. Why have a leadership conference with non-Christian speakers?

2. Are you seriously trying to convince the world that you are not anti-gay? I suppose Hybels means that they don't despise homosexuals. But this will not convince the world of anything. If they are faithful to the Bible, then they are against homosexuality. The world is not asking them, "Do you allow people struggling with same sex attraction to attend your church and receive help being transformed out of these attractions?" The world is saying, "Do you place any hindrance on following every sexual desire that occurs to anyone at anytime, so long as it is consensual?" Saying no to this equates to being anti-gay.

3. This attempts to placate, to give ground in the name of love, to please those who cannot and will not be pleased, will only lead to a fatal compromising of the Word, to detriment of those struggling with the power of homosexual attraction.


Blogger Josh said...

I read this post and then saw on Facebook this status (by the mother of a friend from elementary school):

"Amazing day at the Willow Creek Leadership Conference! Inspirational speakers!!"

11:07 PM

Blogger Josh said...

from the clip, it appears that Hybels isn't trying to convince the world of anything so much as speaking to the conference attendees.

He (and willow church as a whole) seem to be getting some very positive feedback in the Christian community for the way they handled this...interesting...

Bonus points: I like his misapplication of Matthew 18:15-16 at the end (unless the people who started the petition are members of his church?)

11:01 AM

Anonymous Tim said...

Steve-o I'm somewhat disagreeing with you on this one. I think Bill was unequivocally clear about Willow Creeks's theological stance on sexuality. Bill's mention about Willow's welcoming attitude towards people from all walks of life is nothing new or theologically-compromising (nor is it surprising, as they are the original "seeker-friendly" church).

(disclaimer: Willow was my home church for 7 years of my life)

5:39 PM


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