Bill Hybels: What Bono Taught Me About Fighting Poverty

At U.S. News and World Report, Bill Hybels is talking about Bono.

Hybels is the founder of Willow Creek Community Church outside of Chicago, the fourth largest congregation in the country. He says:

Nearly two weeks ago, I stood before 7,000 people—and an additional 60,000 connected via satellite feed—who gathered for the Willow Creek Association’s annual two-day conference the Global Leadership Summit to hear from diverse faculty on the subject of how to get better at leading whatever it is that we lead. Part of the assortment this year included Bono, who agreed to a follow-up discussion to our 2006 interview, during which he called out the local church for being inexcusably late to the game of fighting extreme poverty and treatable disease.

The evangelical church has taken a lot of justifiable heat in recent years for being vocal about the things we hate while staying silent about some of the most pressing needs in our world. There are times when I believe the church should be the conscience of our culture, but to Bono’s point, a reframing must occur, one where the divisiveness that once defined us as people of faith gets edged out by a unity around great societal causes. And what has to unite us in this day and age is the fight against poverty and disease. Faith leaders the world over expected this day would come. What we didn’t expect was that it would take an Irish rock star to demand the dawn.

As leaders, there are so many things we must get better at: casting vision, building teams, solving problems, enforcing values, and building the next generation of leaders. But if we excel in those areas and still neglect to use our leadership octane to address God’s clear mandate to serve the poor, what have we really gained?

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  • Chris Overholt

    About time someone calls the church out. It made me so sick that I left the organized church. I think that the church should also be uniting not only against poverty and treatable diseases, but against the root of them – oppression – which we as a country in the USA have been supporters by not speaking out against it. I think that the church has lost its way and has been usurped by politics and is too closely aligned with the Republican party – not that they should be aligned with the Democratic party. Just that they should be aligned and united with speaking out against any state sponsored oppression and aligned with doing what they can to fight disease and poverty. What a great social change agent they could be and by doing so truly living their lives the way Christ meant them to be lived.

  • Matthew B.

    Jeffrey, are you familiar with Dambisa Moyo? She’s a highly educated Zambian author who argues in her new book “Dead Aid” that the majority of aid to Africa, including the “glamour aid” by celebrities, has not only not done any good to the continent, but done *significant* harm. While not necessarily questioning their intentions, she has some pretty stern words for Bono and other celebrities’ aid efforts in Africa. Here’s a very compelling interview with her: (parts 2-5 on main page)