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Willard vs. Hybels

4 March 2008

An interesting excerpt from an interview of Dallas Willard: 

Willard has avoided many of the trappings of a high-impact ministry; colleagues like Moreland, Foster, and Higginbotham mention his generosity of spirit and his patient humility. He doesn’t have a book agent, has never pursued a book deal, doesn’t charge a set speaking fee, and doesn’t sell his books when he speaks.

Willard’s influence has sometimes led to radical changes at churches. Oak Hills Church in Folsom, California, was running along smoothly according to the Willow Creek model throughout the 1990s. Senior pastor Kent Carlson says that after a period of rapid growth, the church leadership finally had “time to think.” The leaders read a book that essentially said consumerism was a mainstay of American culture, so if the church couldn’t beat the culture, it might as well join it. Carlson says, “This was a distasteful concept to us.” At the same time, senior co-pastor Mike Lueken was taking a course taught by Willard at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.

While church leaders were grappling with these conflicting ideas, they had a powerful experience with God at a leadership retreat. Carlson says that afterward they made a decision to “restructure the church so that people would have a genuine encounter with God that leads to transformation.” Oak Hills’ seeker service was canceled in the belief that evangelism would be more effective as people began to “live more contagiously.”

Instead of “trying to get people’s papers in order for heaven,” the church began concentrating on helping spiritually hungry people “pursue their life with God.” Carlson adds, “We probably didn’t do a very good job at this. We had a bit of an attitude that didn’t always come across as positive. There was anxiety at having built this large organization that we had to keep functioning while we were more enthralled by the more substantive thing.”

Somebody apparently thinks it can be done.  Hallelujah.

BTW, qb’s not suggesting Willard and Hybels are enemies.  But they obviously have very different conceptions of how the church functions in a consumerist, materialist culture.  The Hybels model is clearly the way everybody seems to be going.  But Carlson seems to have concluded that the Hybels model does not resonate cleanly with Jesus’ concept of the kingdom of God.

 qb 

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. b-man permalink
    5 March 2008 9:43 am

    Amen, broha!

  2. 14 March 2008 10:53 pm

    qb,

    Willard’s approach points toward satisfying a hunger for transcendance: taste and see that the Lord is good. Hybel’s seems to me to satisfy the need for friendship in a socially fragmented suburban world. Friendship is good. Friendship with the Lord is better.

    Coop

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