Was Bill Hybels All Wrong?

I don’t believe Bill Hybels was all wrong in his teaching about evangelism. However, if there is a term I have not really agreed with, it’s the term “Seeker Sensitive.” I cannot agree that the bible gives any strong teaching about there being any such thing as a seeker. In fact, Paul very explicitly quotes that “no one understands, no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:11-12).

In saying this, I would also suggest that Bill Hybels highlighted something that was an extremely helpful observation for the church as we seek to reach people with the gospel. Hybels recognized that the Scriptures give examples of many different styles of evangelism. Matthew brings his known friends into his home and introduces them to Jesus in a social situation. Peter stands in front of an attentive crowd and confronts them with the death and resurrection of Christ. Paul moves into the circle of philosophers and engages in intellectual arguments for God and the gospel. The woman at the well invites the people of her town to come and hear the amazing message of Jesus. The blind man gave a testimony to everyone of what Jesus did in his life.

Bill Hybels helped us understand that evangelism happens in all avenues of real life. It can be an intellectual argument to the academic elite, but it can be a loving hospitality to ordinary everyday friends. It can be achieved in a one on one conversation, but it can also be done with the help of inviting someone to sit under gospel instruction. We can stand in front of a group of unknown people or help a hurting friend know how the hope of Jesus is greater than the despair of her cancer.

Sometimes, as conservative, bible-teaching evangelicals, we are quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Sure, I am not a Hybels fan. I completely disagree with his church growth strategies that miss the greater sense of intensive discipleship. At the same time, I am very thankful that he emphasized our need to see that none of us have an excuse. We all have opportunity to use our strengths and abilities for the sake of Christ and his good news. If we don’t have what it takes to stand in front of a group, we have friends. If we don’t know how to answer the tough questions, we can all use our own testimonies as a personal example of the regenerating power of Jesus. Whatever approach we use, the common denominator in all of them is the clear and verbal explanation of the gospel - the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for our sin to rescue us from this present evil age.