It's hard to ignore Bill Hybels. He does everything on a huge scale and he clearly strives to 'do all things well'. A pal of mine always says if anyone manages to make a Willow Creek-style church work in Gateshead then he will start to sit up and notice. This model is a very American one, with a very American leader, leading in a very American way. Having said all this, there is much to learn in the Power of the Whisper, to be inspired by and to admire. The story it tells is of God's work in a remarkable man's life. It's hard to work out though if Hybels built the church by hearing God or working really really hard and applying the methodology of the Harvard Business School. I have concluded having read this that it is a bit of both.
Hybels seems not to be a charismatic. To write a book on hearing God's voice and make little mention of 1 Corinthians 12-14 is quite an achievement. He does however talk of nudges, the voice of God from others, hearing the call for justice and he writes a moving chapter on dark nights of the soul. Willow Creek was birthed out of one question that Hybels was asked as a teenager by a mentor in his church. It a question we would all do well to ponder. Yesterday, I buried a man of 98 and the only thing his family was able to tell me was that "he worked and liked football and bowls." One life one sentence.
So here is the question and listen up:
"What are you going to do with your life that will last forever?"
It is this sentence that stuck with him and it will stick with me.
He also offers a simple observation about the dark nights of the soul. He says there are only three places you can be in.
1. Before pain [BP]
2. In pain [IP]
3. After pain [AP]
"Wherever you find yourself on this continuum- BP, IP or AP-I encourage you to commit Romans 8:28 to memory. God promises goodness for your tomorrows, regardless what realities your living through today" [P 126] He was deeply impacted at one stage in his life by reading a book by Mother Teresa called Come be my light. If you are in pain right now or feeling distant from God this might be good for you to read.
This book blessed me. It is worth an explore if you want to encounter one of the most impressive church leaders of this generation and tap into the things he has learnt about hearing God. The appendix of Hybels key life Scriptures that he has committed to memory are well-worth looking at and I should probably commit them to memory too. Maybe if I do, I might be able to plant a mega-church in Gateshead?
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