Comments 3

  1. I can’t speak specifically to Willow Creek, but in my experience, having grown up in a large church of over 1,000 families, what was missing foundationally was relationship. Without effective relationship and community between pastors and congregation, between congregants, between consistory and congregation, discipline will likely not have a positive effect. My experience in a church that large was one of anonymity. If a member didn’t take the step of getting involved in a small group study, it was easy to have little or no contact with others in the church beyond Sunday morning. Elder visits in the home were nonexistent, unless a member specifically requested a meeting. The only pastor who knew me by name was our mission pastor, and he rarely got my name correct (always the correct first initial letter, the rest was variable…). I would assume the average congregant’s experience at Willow Creek is similar. As with parenting (I’m a mom of three teenagers), a positive relationship is the foundation of effective discipline. It’s difficult to guide people you don’t know.

  2. There is nothing wrong with the things you suggest, but I do believe they fail to identify and address the core problems.

    What we see in the details of abuse cases like this again-and-again is a consistent set of profiles, of a male leader and the environment he works in. Some of the traits include a leader with far too much unchecked, unanswered-to power to control the work environment and isolate potential victims, even insinuating himself into their private lives. If a pastor is an executive running a business and a workplace with employees, he cannot also be their confidant, confessor, or spiritual guide.

    Traits in Warren’s own psyche are also typical, especially for a man of his age/generation: unsatisfied sexual desires and perhaps a sense of having “missed out” on some things as the culture became more permissive, less repressive, and Warren’s work with Dobson on pornography (a project that was, in itself, a very bad idea) gave Warren an education in things he hadn’t considered or allowed himself to consider before. It does not take too much reading between the lines about the things Warren has said and what has been publicly exposed to see this. Warren’s excuses and justifications for his inexcusable actions were a marriage that had gone cold, but perhaps there was a lack of communication with his wife or other, appropriate confidants about things he found too shameful to discuss. Had those things been addressed in an appropriate way, he might not have acted out in an immoral, unethical, and pathological way that suggests a degree of compulsive behaviour had set in.

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