Pastor Bill Hybels, the former senior pastor of the 12,000-plus-member Willow Creek Community Church in northwest-suburban Chicago, at American University in Washington on July 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Publishers stop printing Hybels' books amid allegations of inappropriate behavior

(RNS) — Several publishers have stopped printing books by former Willow Creek Community Church pastor Bill Hybels as the Chicago-area megachurch he founded investigates new allegations of his inappropriate behavior toward women.

Hybels has denied the allegations.


RELATED: Willow Creek responds to new allegations against former pastor Hybels


Tyndale House Publishers has suspended publication of Hybels’ "Everyone Wins When a Leader Gets Better," set to be released in August, according to Publishers Weekly.

InterVarsity Press also told Publishers Weekly this week it will not reprint Hybels' popular 1987 book "Who You Are When No One’s Looking," though it won't pull existing copies from shelves.

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And a Zondervan spokesperson reportedly said the publisher is taking the allegations seriously and considering what to do with a number of books it has printed by Hybels over the years. Those titles include "Just Walk Across the Room" and "Becoming a Contagious Christian."

Former Zondervan president Maureen Girkins is among the women accusing Hybels of acting inappropriately and abusing his power as head of Willow Creek. Among her allegations, Girkins said Hybels insisted they personally work out the terms of a publishing contract on his private jet and made it clear that her husband — who had been hospitalized during a conference they were attending — had to find his own way home.

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At least seven women have come forward, by Christianity Today's count, alleging invitations to hotel rooms, comments about appearances and an unwanted kiss from the former pastor. One unnamed woman also claimed she had a consensual affair with Hybels, though she later denied it.

Previous investigations by Willow Creek elders and a lawyer they hired cleared Hybels of any misconduct, a Chicago Tribune investigation revealed. In a letter posted on the church's website last weekend, elders announced they will examine the latest allegations.

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Hybels has called the allegations “flat-out lies.” He resigned as lead pastor of Willow Creek earlier this month — several months ahead of his planned retirement. He also stepped down from Willow Creek's Global Leadership Summit, held in August at its main campus in South Barrington, Ill., and broadcast around the world.

Additional fallout includes actor Denzel Washington and author and speaker Lisa Bodell pulling out of the summit, according to the Tribune.

Comments

  1. That’s got to bite! If he has to solely depend on a retirement from the Willow Creek empire, and not also book royalties, he may not be able to live in the manner to which he has grown accustomed. 🙂

  2. I have tried to avoid weighing in before a final accounting has been made, and yet it seems the tipping point may have already been reached. Personally, I couldn’t care less if he has any more books published, marketed, or otherwise. I find most publications by mega-church pastors to be something less than useless in most instances. Sadly, though I disagree with my friend Ben in Oakland about the nature of the Christian faith and the Church, his assessment that it is about “Money, Power, and Dominion,” is unfortunately, too often, spot on.

  3. Edward, I don’t think that the faith and the church are about those three things, and have not said so.

    But certain people, certain political movements, certain denominations, are definitely about those three things.

  4. My apologies if I have misinterpreted your usage of those terms. You have used them frequently and perhaps I have missed the nuances and delineations you have intended.

  5. With how book contracts tend to work, most of his payment is probably in advances rather than royalties—but he probably hasn’t gotten his full advance yet, and some contracts can actually allow the publisher to demand payment back if a book’s not published. Since it’s their decision to stop publication, you might assume that such a repayment clause wouldn’t apply, but I’ve heard of precedent from another publisher. Can’t remember which it was, to track that down.

    I am unfamiliar with him as an author and therefore have no real opinion, but I doubt he publisher would act against him if there weren’t evidence.

  6. ….that anybody ever rose from the dead. I agree !!

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