Bill Hybels:  The Goal of the Church is to Make Believers Independent

Orginally published on Wednesday, February 28, 2007 at 6:01 AM
by Todd Rhoades

Chris Elrod shares a quote at his blog from Bill Hybels about what the end-game should be for believers. Bill says, ""The goal (of the church), is to slowly make believers independent. We (as a church and pastors) should focus our attention on introducing people to Christ, and then helping them grow to a certain point. After that--they should..."

“...feed themselves and focus on helping the church introduce more people to Christ.”

Chris follows up with this question:  If a pastor looks out from his pulpit to a congregation of thousands...and only half of them can feed themselves spiritually and lead others...is the church truly a success?

You can read his whole post here...

What do you think?  Do you agree with Hybels quote; and if so, what qualifies as a success going by this definition?

This post has been viewed 1428 times so far.

  There are 9 Comments:

  • Posted by Leonard

    The quote in and of itself it accurate but incomplete.  As for a measurement of success, I would rather think of it as an objective.  It is a piece of the whole but not the whole.  I think we try to ask this question, “What kind of person do we seek to produce?”

    If I were to look at my congregation and see half not knowing how to feed them self I would say awesome simply because that means we led half of our church to Christ. 

    Finally, I would add that many people do not lack for knowledge of what to do, they lack for knowledge of how and for someone to go with them as they do it.  Many churches tell people what but do not know how to instruct in the “how” portion of faith.  Many systems send people home to grow when people need a healthy partnership of faith to grow.  If a church seeks to make disciples of Jesus independent it must tackle the how and build structures whereby people can grow together.

  • Posted by

    I maybe understand where he is going with the quote but I dislike his use if the word independent.  Believers are never called to be independent.  We are to be dependent on the Holy Spirit and one another - at least that is the impression I get from the NT.

  • Posted by

    I liken Bill’s comment to this:

    When I was homebound, I was told by more than one person that I could not be growing stronger in my relationship with God/Christ. Why? Because I was not able to physically be inside the walls of the building to hear the pastor-preacher preach, the Bible study leader lead, and etc. While all of those things in of themselves are good and important, they do not substitute for personal study, prayer, and etc.

    Okay. For all those FANTASTIC pastors and leaders out there..... Yes, you do a great work. But you do not do it alone. Yes, we should be meeting together and encouraging one another...... Please do not misunderstand me here. With that said:

    If one were left alone on an island, would that person really be all alone? Could they not still grow in their relationship with God/Christ? If someone else were to suddenly be plopped down on the island with them who was not a Christian and did not know about God/Christ.... would it not be their responsibility to share with that person? Or should they wait for the preacher, teacher, and etc to show up?

    Hope that makes sense to someone out there!

  • Posted by

    I really respect Hybels on many things, but I think that this might be a pretty near-sighted quote.  Where does 1 Cor. 12:12-31 ("For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.") or the many Pauline verses like it fit into this theory.  You’ve got to think that Paul wasn’t just laying out a “volunteerism” strategy for the early church but, instead, painting a picture of how believers can interact and truly glorify God.

    How does this quote work to feed this Western idea of Individualism that has already softened so many of the revolutionary ideas of the new testament?

  • Posted by

    Chris has done Bill and all of us a disservice by not providing sufficient context for the quote.  I have been around Willow long enough and sat in on enough of Bill’s Q and A’s to know he rarely is that simplistic in what he says.

  • Posted by Chris Elrod

    I apologize if it feels that I was doing a disservice to Bill Hybels...that was truly not my intention.  I respect and admire him and would never willingly cause any doubt to be cast on his words or ministry.

    However, in this particular post I was re-quoting a statement that was made in a Q & A session between Tim Stevens of Granger Community Church and Bill Hybels.  I imagine there was probably more to the statement than what was posted on Tim’s blog, but that quote/idea was the one that grabbed me.

    My goal was not to question the statement itself, but to question the implication of what that means to me as a shepherd of sheep.  I guess my secondary goal was to point out that...in this current trend of measuring church success by the same yard stick as the world’s definition (total numbers)...maybe we should begin defining something much more important - life change.  It was a valid statement by Bill and a valid question by me.  If either offends, then I suppose that was what they were intended to do.  grin

  • Posted by


    Good for you for not wanting to meaure church success by the same yard stick as the world’s definition (total numbers).

    Do total numbers really mean anything if each individual’s life is not changed, changing, and inspiring/encouraging others to want to change?

    If you’re looking out into the congregation and there are thousands and only half of them can feed themselves spiritually and lead others? Well, my questions to you would be… Who are they following? Who are they worshipping?

    Thanks for responding!


  • Posted by Marie McCoy

    I stumbled onto this site by accident, decided to read a little.  Wow, you’re a tough bunch!  ‘Just seems like a drain on our energy to split hairs over this guy when we could be out loving God, loving others or serving the world.  It’s a relief to know you won’t hear me speak.

  • This post is really a good post, as it is a knowledge providing and an interesting post.

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