“I had no idea that the church that I loved would not believe me and the nine other women as claims mounted.” Dyer said. “I did not imagine that they would assassinate my character publicly. I was naïve and could not imagine being persecuted, slandered, lied about and continually bullied by the church on a global scale for reasons I may never fully know.”
“They (Willow Creek Community Church and the Global Leadership Network) believed him (Hybels) and called my wife a liar in front of the church we loved and had given our lives to help build,” Scott said. “And then they told the entire global church community that she was a liar. My wife—who has done nothing but love and serve and sacrifice herself for the church, and live her life with the utmost integrity—had a cloud of suspicion placed over her that was incredibly unfair, unwarranted, and untrue and unkind. And by connection, that cloud was placed over me, as well.”
The Dyers recently told their powerful and moving stories at the No More Silence conference, sponsored by the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. Videos of their talks are posted below.
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“I did not imagine that they would assassinate my character publicly. I was naïve and could not imagine being persecuted, slandered, lied about and continually bullied by the church on a global scale for reasons I may never fully know.”
“Why is it that the corporate world seems to have responded in a healthier way to the #MeToo situation than the church has?” Little asked and then answered: “Corporations are more afraid of their shareholders than churches are. The church has only one shareholder. And it’s a fear of the Lord problem.”
Little also gives valuable advice for church leaders on how to handle allegations of abuse in the church, yet admits, “If your leadership lacks the requisite character and experience, no manual will help you. If you have the appropriate level of character and experience, no manual is necessary.”
Little’s, as well as Scott and Vonda Dyers’ messages are sobering, yet helpful and important for anyone wanting to understand the dynamics of abuse and coverup in the church and how to guard against it. I wish every church leader and church member would watch these videos.
I also hope those who are associated with Willow Creek or the Global Leadership Network will watch these videos, as well. Willow Creek members need to hear from victims like Vonda, and Scott, so they can understand why the church’s initial response to victims was so devastating. Also, according to these women, the church has never adequately named the abuse nor apologized for what happened.
“If your leadership lacks the requisite character and experience, no manual will help you. If you have the appropriate level of character and experience, no manual is necessary.”
Yet GLN continues to host training events for other churches. Just last week, the GLN hosted a conference at Willow Creek promising to teach “pace-setting best practices in all aspects of local church ministry,” including “governance.” This is stunning, given the GLN’s abhorrent actions in the past, which have never been fully owned.
Also remarkable is the fact that four of the conference’s 10 speakers were Willow Creek employees. We now know that the scandal at Willow Creek was not confined to Hybels. It was systemic and included an enabling elder board, high-level employees who looked the other way, and lawyers who intimidated would-be whistleblowers into silence with non-disclosure agreements. Willow nurtured a toxic culture of leadership, so why would others look to Willow to train others in how to lead?
So much more needs to be done to make things right at Willow and GLN, and to stem the epidemic of abuse in the church. The No More Silence conference was a step in the right direction. But I pray victims and their advocates continue to speak out. And I pray that the church increasingly listens to these victims, supports them, and takes their messages to heart.
Vonda Dyer at No More Silence:
Scott Dyer at No More Silence:
Mitch Little at No More Silence: