“Have you heard about Willow Creek?” used to mean, “Do you know the incredible work Willow Creek is doing to advance the gospel and strengthen believers?”
Now “Have you heard about Willow Creek?” means, “Do you know about the sex scandal involving Pastor Bill Hybels and his staff? #churchtoo”
This story is possibly the most high-profile of the #churchtoo movement for Protestants, revealing the uncomfortable fact that the church is far from immune to sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and cover-up.
If you’re like me, this entire movement makes you very, very angry and so, so, sad—all at the same time.
It’s not new to know that the church is full of broken, sinful humans. It’s a hospital with the only Healer whose work is eternal. It’s also not new for the world to talk about the problems within the church; many Christians have fallen into grievous scandal.
But let’s respond with something new.
I think the first step in something new is having conversations. Conversations that listen to stories that have been covered up or hidden. Conversations that acknowledge the pain and seek to comfort and strengthen victims. Conversations that hold perpetrators accountable.
And then, we need conversations that don’t run from close relationships between females and males. We work to make them healthy.
It’s easy to run and hide behind rules when faced with scandal. The “Billy Graham Rule,” that he would not be alone with a woman, is one that many support–even Vice President Pence. And yet, that blanket rule does not necessarily help create good working relationships between women and men.
And that’s what we want, right? Healthy relationships. Healthy leading relationships. Healthy relationships in the church. We need to talk about a new paradigm for healthy relationships between men and women.
Missio Alliance is on the forefront of these conversations, and Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary want to join them. That’s why we’re hosting the #ChurchTogether summit on our Manhattan campus November 10. Registration is still available.
We will begin with a meet and greet at 11:00 AM, and then start the livestream at noon. We will get to hear world-class speakers, including Oneya Okuwobi, pastor, academic, and author of Multiethnic Conversations; Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary and author of several books, including The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice; and Jo Saxton, author, leadership coach, church planter, and visionary.
Don’t worry—we won’t be watching a screen all day. There will be time for lunch and snacks, as well as roundtable chats that respond to the speakers. Further, we will have a fantastic local panel of world-class practitioners who reside in and around Manhattan.
So come. Come and start or continue conversations around this topic. Come prepared to process the anger and sadness that go along with #churchtoo. Mostly, though, come ready to change and be changed by the power of the Holy Spirit to move forward into healthy relationships that make the Kingdom of God visible in the world!