Ten days after the attacks on the World Trade Center Towers, I stood at Ground Zero and tried to take in the aftermath of one horrific day. The thoughts of that made me cry out to God, No way! Theres just no way evil can be that deep and that dark! But strangely, while the ashes smoldered around me, and the grief of it overwhelmed me, a profound hope rose in my heart--the local church is the hope of the world. There were many people and organizations helping out after the disaster. But a work of a deeper kind was happening behind the scenes in downtown Manhattan. The most important work of all was being done by pastors and church members, volunteers of churches, ordinary Christ followers. They were in the middle of all the misery, addressing the concerns of the soul. It was happening 24 hours a day. That was the untold media story. So many other organizations met the external needs of people, but it was the church that reached out to care for the inner needs of their fellow human beings. The church became the physicians for the souls of people. That experience underscored, yet again, the convictions that have been forming in Bill Hybels for the past 30 years--that the church has an unique mission to fulfill on planet Earth. And that the future of our society depends on whether or not church leaders understand that and focus the vision of local churches accordingly. Where Bills heart beats the fastest is with leaders in local churches. He believes to the core of his being that local church leaders have the potential to be the most influential force in the world. If they "get it," churches will be the redemption centers for change that Jesus imagined them being. So thats Bills hope--that the spiritual gift of leadership will come alive in churches everywhere and, as a result, the church will become the force in the world against which the gates of hell cannot prevail.
Bill Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., and chairman of the board for the Willow Creek Association. The bestselling author of more than twenty books, including Leadership Axioms, Holy Discontent, Just Walk Across the Room, The Volunteer Revolution, and Courageous Leadership, and classics such as Too Busy Not to Pray and Becoming a Contagious Christian, Hybels is known worldwide as an expert in training Christian leaders to transform individuals and their communities through the local church. He and his wife, Lynne, have two adult children and two grandsons, Henry and Mac.
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