About the Post

Author Information

Mike is the general manager of Q90 FM and co-host of Stand Up For The Truth. His new book, "Are You Really Saved?" Understanding Sin, Grace, Salvation, and Sanctification, published in 2014.

Leadership and the Willow Creek Summit

Bill Hybels and stagingI confess that I may have been a little hard on the Willow Creek Leadership Summit on today’s show, but I think we live in a time when tough questions and a tough self-examination is sometimes necessary.  By no means are we saying you should not attend, just understand that not every leader presented lines up with biblical truths and worldview.

But I think the most important question we need to examine is this:  What is leadership?  Leadership is being defined many different ways these days, and one of the ways is that a leader is an influencer.  But then don’t we have to examine what kind of influence a leader has—after all there is negative and positive influence.

Servant Leadership is also a big buzz word these days.  But sometimes servant leadership can just be code words for manipulating those we lead to get them on to our agenda.  Sometimes it is making people feel they are important and valued, when in reality the real goal is to increase productivity and profitability to the organization.

To me a true Christian leader is one who helps those he leads productively and effectively serve and love God.  It is not about the leader’s agenda—it’s about God’s agenda.  Too often we see leaders who expect all sorts of privileges with leadership—wealth, fame and other perks.  The only problem with that is where is the biblical foundation for that?  What did Jesus gain by taking human form and dying on the cross?  The only agenda He served was that of His heavenly Father—to become the perfect sacrifice for sin, paying the price for sin that no man could, so others might come into rightful relationship with God.

What about Paul?  What perks did he receive as a leader?  He lived off the charity of others with no place of his own, no retirement income and spent a great deal of time being beaten or imprisoned for the gospel.

Unfortunately these days leadership has often been turned into a self-serving form of narcissism where the only person who truly benefits is the leader.  Name it claim it pastors living in multi-million dollar mansions and driving a fleet of Cadillacs, along with personal jets.  Leadership—true Christian leadership—calls for personal sacrifice.  But these days many leaders are all about the perks, not the sacrifices of leadership.

I am not in any way accusing Willow Creek leadership of acquiring excessive gain from their leadership summit.  I don’t know the leaders and I have no reason to believe they are gaining anything personally from this event.  My concern with the conference is how it is continually morphing into a social justice conference, more concerned with solving the world’s problems instead of advancing the only solution to the depravity of man—the gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

Look, of course we are to be light and salt to the world.  We need to show the love and hope of Jesus Christ to everyone we encounter, and one way we can do that is by helping the poor.  But it is a very short step from helping the poor so we can share the gospel, to believing helping the poor is our gospel.  No matter how much money we pour into social justice programs, there will always be poor people, wars, famine and pestilence.  We need to be very careful that we do not misunderstand our calling and mission straight from Jesus’ mouth:  Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Man cannot solve all the problems of this world and Jesus said if he does not return at the appointed time, no flesh would be spared.

So by all means help the poor and stand up for true biblical justice.  But be careful who is defining “social justice” because many who are doing so oppose clear biblical doctrine on sins like homosexuality and abortion.  Their idea of ‘justice” doesn’t necessarily line up with God’s.

So if you are attending this weekend, I hope your time is blessed.  But just be careful about what you hear and choose to believe at the summit—as always take it to the Word of God to discern truth from deception.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “Leadership and the Willow Creek Summit”

  1. Steve #


    Steve Denny/Berean

    August 13, 2012 at 3:46 PM
  2. Karrie #

    Goodness, discipline, unity, kindness, honor, equality, humility, integrity, community, focus, patience and love are all key take aways for me from Willow Creek's Leadership Summit. The highlight for me was when John Ortberg shared a message that Jesus is the most influenial man to walk on this Earth and Jesus also revealed the fullness of God in himself.

    Mike, I agree we always have to be aware and open to what we are hearing and thank you for always directing everyone to God's Word for the truth.

    August 10, 2012 at 5:25 PM
  3. Tim #

    I just attended the leadership summit for the 5th year in a row and am a more fully devoted Christ follower because of it.

    August 10, 2012 at 4:24 PM
  4. Darrel #

    Hi Greg, if Hybels did preach the Gospel to TDJ and O why haven't we heard about it? It would be a first for him to do so. God-haters as in the religious hierarchy and the religious elite of our day. If you would read the four Gospels you would see the attitude Jesus had to those self-righteous, self-appointed "leaders". Nicodemus was the only exception. But you've read all the stories and know of our Lord's disdain for these types and you even know that is what I was talking about in the first place, don't you? Follow these clowns at your own peril.

    August 10, 2012 at 3:08 PM
  5. Darrel #

    Wow, Dion, What a line-up your beloved pastor has set before you. Are all the attendees so without discernment as you? Does it not bother you in the slightest that your beloved pastor, Mr. Hybels, takes to the stage and parties with world renowned heretics such as T D Jakes, Shane Hypes (sp?), and every one's favorite occultist Oprah? Would you seriously want those who love the Lord Jesus Christ in truth to cozy up to God-haters like Bono? The endless parade of heretics and God-haters that you have listened to at Willow Creek will only expand, the deception will deepen, the lost will not be regenerated, and all of this will be done in the name of your god, whoever that may be—-and, no, it is not the Lord Jesus Christ. If you were as well versed in the Scriptures as you would have us to believe then you would know these things and would remove yourself from the evil influence of the wicked men you want us to believe are speaking for God. 2 Cor. 13:5

    August 10, 2012 at 5:31 AM
  6. Dion #

    Mike, I respect you in your work and ministry and deeply appreciate you and your talent. I believe that I must chime in as a matter of "Standing Up For The Truth".

    How many times do we "Christians" get challenged by non-believers who spout bible verses out of context? I say all the time. It is not uncommon for some of my non-believing associates to bring up a verse from Leviticus (seems to be a favorite book of attackers) and say…..the bible sanctions inequality….. but dig a little deeper and discover their true understanding of the Word in it's context, is no where close to truth, because in most circumstances, they haven't even read the whole bible.

    Now this is one thing I am proud of your work Mike, you challenge this type of thinking from the "nay-sayers".

    However, in regards to Willow Creek's Leadership Summit, I believe you might be doing exactly what it is that you challenge others for. You have openly stated that you have not attended the summit. Could it be possible there is more to it than disseminating other people's commentary and highlighting the shortcomings of some of the speakers?

    I have attended the Willow Creek Summit for several years and find it to be a great Christian leadership experience every year. From an outside perspective, I can relate to many of your points and concerns, but experiencing it in person brings a whole new light of understanding. Just like those that just talk about Christ and those that lead a "Christ-centered" life and experience the Holy Spirit move within them.

    For every secular speaker that speaks at the conference, there are at least 3 that speak from a Christian faith based standing, many are not even listed in the line up. The secular speakers at the event are actually a part of the ministry, meaning that they are challenged on where they stand on their faith. Some of the speakers are brought in year after year and part of the whole "summit experience", is witnessing these secular speakers get softened hearts that open to the good news of Jesus and you get to watch them transform. Today at the summit we saw former CEO Carly Fiorina give her testimony and talk about how Bill Hybels and the summit opened her heart to the Word, but then God moved her.

    Secular speaker Jim Collins was at the summit and spoke today in a clear contrast of his speech last year. He barely addressed faith in his last year's message and this year, myself and several others, thought he was about to commit his life to Christ on stage. Instead he talked about the impact of his relationship with Bill Hybels surrounding his family during some very difficult times, and how he witnessed a true love he had not seen before. He didn't say he was a believer, but I believe the seed has been planted well here, and I pray for his continued involvement so that he will realize the gift God has waiting for him.

    On air, you mentioned Bono. 2yrs ago Bono was invited to speak at the summit and he pretty much attacked the church for being hypocrites and not doing enough to make the world a better place. Bill met with Bono several times after that summit session and showed Bono what churches (not just Willow Creek) were doing around the world. Bono returned to the summit the following year with his eyes open and apologized for his characterization of the church and was genuinely moved by what he witnessed. It was powerful.

    I can go on about these "secular" speakers and their role, but my point is that you cast a belief that most of these people are there to sell their secular agenda, when in all truth, they are apart of the ministry and attendees get to witness their transformation.

    Bill Hybels as well as many of the other leaders at this summit were true to the Word in my belief today. Every session that had a secular speaker was followed by a biblical connection or that speakers humility, acknowledging their own personal growth towards or with Christ. There was no "watering down" of the Gospel. It was spoken in truth from the bible constantly by Bill Hybels, Jim Mellado, Craig Groeschel and several others.

    Out of context, I get what you are saying. In line with the truth of what actually happens at the event and in context, there is a whole lot more to it than the picture I believe you spent most of your airtime on Wed. painting. Mike, join me for the final session tomorrow, free of charge with no strings, and you can witness all of this in it's intended context. If you still feel the same, I can't fault you then.

    But please consider that you may be right on some things and that you could also be wrong and hurting something that many mature Pator's believe has HIS blessings.

    God Bless you Mike and your ministry! I love you brother!

    August 9, 2012 at 3:56 PM
  7. Mr. Diehl #

    "Servant leadership is just words these days a clever guise to coddle subordinates into buying into the vision of the one leader."

    Mr. Davis I could not disagree more as this is a pretty blanket statement. There are good leaders and there are bad leaders like anything else in this world. I don't see this as a valid statement when there is not a comprehensive context added with the person who may have spoke it.

    Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is an example of Christian based servant leadership.

    August 9, 2012 at 2:46 PM
  8. Mr Davis #

    Servant leadership is just words these days a clever guise to coddle subordinates into buying into the vision of the one leader. But where does the vison come from. You want to be great do you? Someone else thought to make himself great: Satan.
    You want to be proud someone else loved pride too: Satan.

    Its funny really or at least I think so. Christ says you are either for me or against me. If we do not accept Christ, our father is the devil and we do what he does. If you do accept Christ then you do what he does.

    He came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransome for many.
    The God who created the universe and is holding it together today by His divine power, preserving it unto the day of judgement, That God subjected HImself in Christ Jesus to public Scorn and Humiliation on the cross and became in man's sight less than a man.

    Psalm 22
    6 But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. 7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn : they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, 8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.

    If we are learning our leadership from Christ we will look more like him won't we? So who are we learning from then?

    There is but one option: the one who came to seek and destroy, the father of lies, the great deceiver.

    Time to ask ourselves what are we doing?

    August 9, 2012 at 2:42 AM