Bill Hybels – The Local Church is the Hope of the World

These are my notes from Bill Hybel’s closing message at the Summit. 

Everyone wins when a leader gets better.

My vision for the Summit has always been that we leaders realize we all need, at the very least, an annual heart-check and gut-check and time of refreshment and encouragement and refining our leadership skills. That we treat doing this as a non-negotiable, essential part of our practice.

At the end of the day, we want to be able to stand before God and say “I did my absolute best with the leadership gifts you’ve given me.”

Could you imagine the impact of several hundred thousand leaders gathering annually for a recalibration? This is within our grasp and I hope you’ll join this great vision.

Matthew 16:18. Who is ultimately building the church? Will he allow it to be defeated?

I believe the local church is the hope of the world. But the first 18 years of my life, the one word I would have used to describe the church was “hopeless.” I thought that at the very best I would be minimally engaged with the church for the rest of my life. The church we attended when I was growing up was one I practically wanted to protect people from coming to so it wouldn’t do more harm to the reputation of Christ.

But in the next stage of my life, my perspective changed on the local church from “hopeless” to “hopeful.” I learned in one of my seminary classes about how God moved in the early church, and the professor would say things like “why can’t someone in this room chuck their life plan and give their life to building the local church like this?”

Vision is the picture of a future that creates passion in people. It propels people forward who would normally be comfortable with the status quo. It puts a bounce in your step when you’d normally be dragging your feet.

I was seized by a vision of what the church could be. Of the church’s vision and power and potential. I determined I would seek to play some role in this. I moved to Chicago to help a friend build a youth group, and without realizing it I had signed on to the ride of a lifetime. [Tells great story of how he was called to ministry and Willow Creek started.]

I then moved from “hopeful” on the local church finally to “the local church is the hope of the world.”

The hope of the world is not government, academia, business, but the church because it is to the church that God has entrusted the message of salvation, which truly changes people’s lives and hearts.

And I realized this meant we need to enable everyone in the church to make the maximum contribution they can, and we need to get leaders to lead, and we need to teach everyone to serve and to give generously, and invite young people to be a part of things as soon as they can. And then it occurred to me that we need to see every church reach its full redemptive potential. And I’m really eager to see that day.

What gives us confidence that the church will endure to the end of history? Many empires and massive companies that seemed durable have evaporated. Why will it be different for the church? Because Jesus is building the church.

Jesus is not directing the angelic choir, taking long naps, or doing crossword puzzles. He is completely focused on building his church, the hope of the world.

One of the greatest privileges in all of life is when Jesus taps you on the shoulder and says, “Hey Brian (or Fred or Melinda or etc.), I have a critical role for you as I am building my church in this world. And I’ve been preparing you your whole life for it.” How do you say no to that? How do you blow that off? How do you say “I’ve got my own thing going on, and I want to build my retirement and golf game instead.” Don’t be that guy. You’ll regret it forever. Don’t say “no thanks, I’m building my thing.”

In my view, the morning prayer of every sincere Christ-follower on earth should be “Lord, today I freshly commit myself to your work today as you build your church in the world. I commit all of myself to the role you’ve assigned to me in the building of your church.” Have you ever prayed that prayer? How about praying that prayer every day for the next 30 days? Could you imagine if the 2 billion people in this world who claim to be Christ-followers prayed that every day and sought to do it? Or the 160,000 leaders who are part of the Summit this year did that? My mind can barely grasp what would happen in the church and in the world if we were to do this.

Will you say to the Lord, “Yes, I will join you fully in your work of building your church”?