Sometimes it takes an outsider to see the most basic facts.
When I was teaching at Denver Seminary in the early 1990s, the Denver area was in the middle of a remarkable boom era for evangelical megachurches. There were congregations that -- in the space of 12 months or so -- attracted several thousand members.
During a classroom discussion one day. a student from overseas (I think it was Russia) asked an interesting question: Why are there no old, unattractive, balding superchurch pastors? Why are they all young, super attractive and really funny? And how can you be a pastor when you have 7,000 members or more? Were these men pastors or celebrities?
The Americans laughed, but the laughter was rather weak.
I thought about that exchange when I was reading some of the early coverage of the latest scene in the ongoing drama of the Rev. Bill Hybels and the massive Willow Creek Community Church outside Chicago.
Obviously, Hybels is more than a pastor who founded a giant evangelical megachurch 42 years ago. He is the creator of what amounts to a new Protestant mini-denomination -- more than a mere parachurch network. He has been a hero -- a celebrity -- among moderate evangelicals who want to make sure that the world understands that they aren't like all of those other tacky evangelicals.
There's a reason that GetReligionista Julia Duin's original #ChurchToo post about the accusations against Hybels has attracted nearly 18,000 readers.
With all that in mind, let me say something very obvious about the main news reports about the Hybels resignation.
These stories are, as a rule, long, detailed and full of nuance. In other words, look at the bylines on the following stories in the Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post and the hard-news website at Christianity Today.