Willow Creek Exodus

Willow Creek has ended its formal relationship with Exodus International.

According to a write-up at Christianity today, the two sides are saying two different things:

WILLOW CREEK Elder Scott Vaudrey says the decision was not intended as a social or political statement.  In fact, it was the result of “a season of reviewing and clarifying some of our affiliations with outside organizations.”

EXODUS president Alan Chambers thinks differently though:  “The choice to end our partnership is definitely something that shines a light on a disappointing trend within parts of the Christian community, which is that there are Christians who believe like one another who aren’t willing to stand with one another, simply because they’re afraid of the backlash people will direct their way if they are seen with somebody who might not be politically correct…Biblical truth is unpopular, and when you’re supporting unpopular truth, you are unpopular too; which means, some days, getting upwards of 10,000 phone calls and emails, and it can be overwhelming.”

Hmmm… which to believe??

I think Mark Yarhouse from Regent University gives a better understanding to this trend in general:

“Churches are realizing that while there is a small contingent of the gay community responding to language like ‘freedom from homosexuality’ or ‘freedom is possible,’ the vast majority strongly disagree. They’re angry and they believe it’s impossible to change, and to hear this is so offensive that they will have nothing to do with Christians. So I think churches, in response to that vast majority who say, ‘We’re not interested,’ have decided to look at other approaches in an attempt to connect with the gay community on at least some level. That doesn’t mean that churches disagree with the language of ‘freedom from homosexuality’ doctrinally; they’ve just found that it doesn’t work on a social level.”

I think Mark’s right.

Was there more to Willow’s severing the relationship than just shuffling around their partners?  Could be.  I think Mark may have hit the nail on the head though.  The church may just not have been comfortable with Exodus’ delivery methods.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ve changed their views on the core subject of homosexuality.  If that’s the case, it’d be good to clarify.

And for Exodus’ point of view:  just because someone doesn’t partner with you doesn’t mean that churches are going to hell in a handbasket, or that no one will stand for truth anymore.  That’s a pretty stark message.  Oh wait…

What do you think?

You can read more here…



  • james malone July 26, 2011 Reply

    I agree that the msg EXODUS sends does NOT work on a social level and glad WCCC has taken the stance they have. What I’m having a hard time understanding is they made this decision approx. 2 years ago and it is just now becoming a issue.

  • Andrew Chapman July 26, 2011 Reply

    I had never heard of Exodus before. My reaction when I saw their logo above was to recoil from it. “Proclaiming freedom from homosexuality since 1976” might have worked in 1976, but that language probably does more harm than good today. Interesting how this is coming right on the heels of Cru’s recent name change.

  • Rebel Saint July 26, 2011 Reply

    My understanding is that the gospel doesn’t work particularly well on a social level either. “You are inherently sinful and need to be changed” is as unpopular with heterosexuals as it is with homosexuals and everything inbetween.

  • John Burton July 26, 2011 Reply

    I think we need to spend less time on trying to be relevant and more time trusting the ageless gospel (older than 1976). Jesus does set people free from homosexuality… in fact, he’s the only one who can. That bold declaration is what we need, not some soft, psycho-sensitive casual, subtle, hidden message.

    • Pastor Steve July 27, 2011 Reply


  • steve miller July 26, 2011 Reply

    I think the gospel should never change, but our delivery can.

    Maybe Exodus should use this as an opportunity to widen its focus to “offering freedom from all sexual sins,” rather than being so specific.

  • TJ Reid July 26, 2011 Reply

    Smart move by WCC. Our approach to loving and helping people involved in homosexual eroticism definitely needs to change. I believe God can help our strategies. Thanks for sharing this article.

  • Jeff Buchanan July 26, 2011 Reply

    Hi Todd,

    I was forwarded your post by a friend and thought I would see if I could provide some helpful information. Our organization exists to equip the Church to provide ministry to those who struggle with unwanted same-sex attractions as well as family and friends who have been affected by this issue. Our desire is to give hope to those who struggle and help them to live lives through the filter of their faith rather than their sexuality. It is because of the ministry of Exodus that I have the life and family that I have today. This story is shared by countless men and women over the past 36 years. Like many ministries, we are always evaluating how we can effectively communicate without diluting the gospel in a culture that says there are no other options to a gay identity. We are always open to gracious and constructive feedback.

    To clarify, we do not believe that a church is “going to hell in a handbasket” because they will not partner with us. To take such offense would be detrimental to the ministry of Exodus. In fact, I just spoke at a church this morning where I can honestly say that I would not recommend direct affiliation due to the community and area in which they serve. I don’t believe any of Alan’s statements communicate the inference you made in your post.

    The fact is that Willow Creek dissolved their affiliation 2 years ago. During that time we made no mention of their actions out of respect of their decision. A gay activist blog broke the story 2 weeks ago which prompted media to contact us for a response. As a result we have shared our experience and concern.

    I hope this has provided some clarity and please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance. Blessings to you.

    Jeff Buchanan
    Executive Vice President
    Exodus International

  • Caleb Kaltenbach July 27, 2011 Reply

    I’m a senior pastor of a growing church in Dallas. My parents were divorced when I was 2 yrs old, and both of them entered the homosexual lifestyle. I was raised in the gay community. When I was young I was taken to gay bars, clubs, parties, GLAAD meetings, marched in pride parades, etc. I found Jesus when I was in high school. I can say that I think Todd is right. I have a heart to reach the GLBT community, and we have to rethink and realign how we do it. Taking strong political stances may not always be the best way. Whether or not we choose to partner with a parachurch ministry shouldn’t define if we’re “for” or “against” the issue. Perhaps encouraging genuine relationships and helping people to treat GLBT people as normal people and NOT projects would help. When it comes down to it, it’s our job to introduce people to Christ, help the follow Jesus, and leave the rest to the Spirit of God. This is going to be a HUGE hot-button issue as the years go on (as if it isn’t already) and we have to be as strategic as we can to honor the Word and love people at the same time.

    • J. July 27, 2011 Reply

      Well said… I would dare say that it would be hard to “honor the Word” and NOT Love people at the same time…they have to go together or something is missing.

  • T J August 5, 2011 Reply

    It sounds like Alan Chambers is calling Willow Creek out for their lack of a continued stance in this matter.

    Willow Creek is a sophisticated political animal and I would reckon they did not want Soulforce invading their campus a couple of years ago, so the deal was done.. no Soulforce in exchange for no Exodus affiliation.

    Willow Creek and Saddleback have lead the dumbing-down movement in the Evangelical church to the extent the church is becoming increasing culturally irrelevant.

    Gay-Marriage which was unthinkable two years ago is in full stride in the legislative bodies in the various states throughout the U.S.

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