In October 2007, Out of Ur posted what has now become a much read and much quoted commentary that we titled "Willow Creek Repents?" It was based on comments that Bill Hybels and Greg Hawkins, Willow Creek's executive pastor, presented at The Leadership Summit 2007, announcing the release of Reveal, a book emerging from an extensive study of Willow and other churches.
Earlier this month, Bill Hybels and Jim Mellado, president of the Willow Creek Association, posted a video on YouTube objecting to the "misinformation" published by Out of Ur and our sister publication Christianity Today regarding Reveal.
The week following the release of the video, I went to South Barrington to meet with leaders of Willow Creek to hear their concerns face to face, which was a very helpful experience. They shared with me new approaches to ministry prompted by Reveal that are in process and things they are not ready to have published. I will honor their trust. I certainly affirm the steps Willow is taking to more effectively turn irreligious people into fully devoted followers of Christ.
I do need to respond publicly to two items that were aired in the YouTube video.
1. What does it mean to "repent"?
In the video, Bill Hybels says of the title "Willow Creek Repents?":
"I wondered, What horrible, immoral thing have I done? I think it was a poor choice of words, actually. . . . I don't think when you make a strategic adjustment, it qualifies under the term repent. I think every evangelical knows that's kind of a loaded-up term, and I think someone wanted to get some action on a blog, and I think it was very unfortunate and quite disingenuous to title the article that way."
Okay. It did get attention on the blog, and the term provided Willow critics ...