Instructions: Please fill out each field as best you can. The text in Green provides examples, and should be deleted when you are filling your your worksheet. After you complete this table, use the information to write your 2-3 page Conceptual Narrative for your SSSR.
Combine 5 articles/Journal and answer each question. Please keep every question in your paper.
1. Describe the topic or issue you are interested in studying.
I am interested in studying Traditional Family – Christian Marriage Struggles
2. What specific parts of area of the topic are you interested in examining? (hint: this may involve naming the variables you might be interested in studying)
I am interested in: FOR EXAMPLE (a) messages parents communicate to their kids, (b) do some parents avoid talking to their kids about race, (c) do moms talk to their kids about race more than fathers, (e) does the race of the parent(s) make a difference in how they talk about this?
3. What do you know about the magnitude or severity of the problem underlying your topic? (hint: find at least 2 scholarly articles that describe the problem in terms of how it impacts the population or how it is related to negative outcomes)
Schools in the U.S. continue to be racially stratified, resulting in racial disparities in among children of various ages (Warikoo et al., 2016). Black, Latino, and Asian students have reported an increase in racially motivated incidents at schools in recent years (Pew Research Center, 2021). Efforts to reduce racial bias may be more effective in childhood than in adulthood (Gonzales, Steele, and Baron, 2016).
4. Based on #2 and #3, list a few possible questions about your specific topic and the problem you are trying to address or learn more about (hint: ask what, who, when, where, why, how?)
What do parents say to their kids about racism in schools? How do Asian parents talk to their kids about race and racism? Is there a difference in the way White parents talk to their White children about race compared to Black parents of Black children? How do parents communicate non-verbal messages about race and racism to their children?
5. Choose one to be your main question (hint: how or why questions tend to be best)
How do parents communicate non-verbal messages about race and racism to their children?
6. Refine your question from #5 and make it as clear and specific as possible (hint: specific population, specific variables or constructs of interest)
How do Black and Latino parents communicate non-verbal messages about race and racism to their preschool-aged children?
7. Does your question explore differences between two or more groups? If NO, continue to #8. If YES, are you proposing an intervention or naturally occurring differences? Describe below.
Maybe. I may propose a secondary question that compares differences between how Black and Latino parents communicate non-verbal messages about race/racism to their preschoolers.
8. Does your question explore how two or more variables are related? If NO, continue to #9. If YES, what is the relationship you are exploring (e.g., associations, predictive)
Im not sure. Im exploring parenting behaviors (nonverbal communications about race and racism), but Im not sure its related to another variable. Im not interested in examining how it predicts any child outcomes, so maybe the answer to this question is no.
9. Does your question explore the how a group of people experience a particular phenomenon or condition? If NO, continue to #10. If YES, what dimensions or aspects of the phenomenons or conditions experience are you interested in learning more about?
Possibly. If I were examining how parents experience talking to their kids about racism, then this could be a yes. But, Im not sure that the way Im defining non-verbal communication is an experience. I think its more of a set of behaviors.
10. Does your question aim to describe a set of characteristics about a particular phenomenon or a particular population? If NO,
continue to #11. If YES, describe below.
11. Use your responses to #7-10, to further refine your research question.
OK, I think I want to change my question so that it reads: What verbal and nonverbal messages do Black and Latino parents transmit to their preschool children about race and racism?
Include any notes that you want to capture as you start planning your SSSR. You may notice that there are areas of your topic that youre not quite sure about or where the published findings are mixed/contradictory. These gaps can be starting points for your SSSR.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO
MAKING CHRISTIAN MARRIAGES, MAKING MARRIAGE CHRISTIAN:
MEGACHURCH EVANGELICALISM AND MARRIAGE EDUCATION
A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO
THE FACULTY OF THE DIVISION OF THE SOCIAL SCIENCES
IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
DEPARTMENT OF COMPARATIVE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
All rights reserved
INFORMATION TO ALL USERS
The quality of this reproduction is dependent upon the quality of the copy submitted.
In the unlikely event that the author did not send a complete manuscript
and there are missing pages, these will be noted. Also, if material had to be removed,
a note will indicate the deletion.
Microform Edition © ProQuest LLC.
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unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code
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Published by ProQuest LLC (2014). Copyright in the Dissertation held by the Author.
UMI Number: 3628068
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1
WILLOW CREEK WITHIN CONTEMPORARY EVANGELICALISM 4
WILLOW CREEK AMIDST CONTEMPORARY SUBURBIA 7
MANAGEMENT EXPERTISE AND THE CHURCH 10
EGALITARIAN EVANGELICALISM AND DUAL-EARNER FAMILIES 14
THEORETICAL ENGAGEMENTS 17
FROM BELIEF TO RELATIONSHIP AMONG US EVANGELICALS 18
SOCIAL MOVEMENTS, HEALTH, AND THE FAMILY IN THE UNITED STATES 23
HEALTHY MARRIAGES AS CULTURAL ACTIVISM 25
COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE IN THE US 28
THERAPEUTIC CULTURE AND SOCIAL COMMITMENT 30
SUMMARY OF THEORETICAL CONTRIBUTIONS AND ENGAGEMENTS. 32
SETTING AND METHODS 35
PARTICIPANT OBSERVATION AT THE MINISTRY AND CHURCH ATTENDANCE. 35
TEXT AND OTHER MEDIA ANALYSIS. 38
OVERVIEW OF CHAPTERS 39
CHAPTER TWO: WILLOW CREEK AND THE CONTESTED AMERICAN MARRIAGE 41
REFORMED PROTESTANTISM AND MARRIAGE IN US HISTORY 42
ESTABLISHING PROTESTANT MARRIAGE IN THE AMERICAS 44
AFFECTIVE INDIVIDUALISM AND RELIGIOUS AWAKENINGS 45
DOMESTICITY – PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SPHERES, RELIGIOUS AND SECULAR 49
THE FIRST DIVORCE CRISIS AND GROWING SECULAR AUTHORITY 51
THE EMERGENCE OF FUNDAMENTALISM 52
COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE AND MARRIAGE ADJUSTMENT 54
THE EMERGENCE OF NEO-EVANGELICALISM 57
GODS FEMININE MYSTIQUE: EVANGELICAL SEX AND POLITICS 60
EVANGELICAL POLITICAL IDENTITY LEADING UP TO ROE V. WADE 63
ROE V WADE, CARTER, AND THE MORAL MAJORITY 66
THE MORAL MAJORITY ERA 71
BIPARTISAN CONSERVATIVE CONSENSUS AND TURN-OF-THE-CENTURY EVANGELICALISM 77
EVANGELICALISM AND THE MARRIAGE MOVEMENT ERA 83
MARRIAGE EXPERTISE AND DECLINE: WILLOW CREEK AND THE MARRIAGE MOVEMENT 86
COMPETING NARRATIVES ACCOUNTS OF CHANGES TO MARRIAGE 87
IVE GOT SOME GOOD NEWS AND SOME BAD NEWS: MARRIAGE PROBLEMS AT WILLOW CREEK 89
CHAPTER 3: CHRISTIAN SPOUSEHOOD AS THERAPEUTIC PROJECT 98
MARRIAGE: ONE IDEAL, MANY STRATEGIES 101
BROKENNESS AND THE NORMALIZATION OF THERAPEUTIC MODALITIES 103
BROKENNESS AT WILLOW CREEK 104
BROKENNESS IN EVANGELICAL MEDIA 108
BRINGING THE WORD TO LIFE: THE SOCIAL SURROUNDS OF THE MARRIAGE MINISTRY 112
MARRIAGE MATTERS: MODELS OF AND FOR EVANGELICAL COMPANIONATE MARRIAGE 117
WIRED FOR MARRIAGE: GENDER, SEX, AND IDENTITY 120
A MEGACHURCH DRIVE THEORY: DESIGNED FOR BASIC NEEDS 121
GENDER NORMS: FLEXIBLE EGALITARIANISM 124
THE FAMILY OF ORIGIN: PSYCHOLOGICAL KINSHIP 135
MAKING NEW FAMILIES OF ORIGIN 141
METACOMMUNICATIVE TECHNIQUES: AUTHENTICITY THROUGH STRUCTURE 143
DIVORCE AND NEW CONNECTIONS 146
CHAPTER FOUR: COMPETING AMBITIONS, CONFLICTED SPOUSES 149
NARRATIVES OF RELIGIOUS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENT 150
KAREN EDGAR- PRACTICAL AUTHORITY VIA SYMBOLIC SUBMISSION 152
GENDER AUTHORITY VERSUS RELIGIOUS AUTHENTICITY 154
TEMPORALITIES OF SUSTAINED MARRIAGE, CHRISTIANITY, AND HEALTH 156
MEN WHO WONT YIELD 161
NAOMI AND BARB: EVANGELICAL FEMINISM AND AUTHENTIC CHRISTIAN FAMILIES 164
PERFORMANCE VERSUS AUTHENTICITY 166
TIME AND RUPTURE 169
REDEFINING EVANGELICAL BELONGING 171
THERAPEUTIC DISCOURSE AND THE MULTIPLICITY OF EVANGELICAL JOURNEYS 171
SOCIOCENTRIC EVANGELICAL INDIVIDUALISM 172
THERAPEUTIC TEMPORALITY AND CHRISTIAN AUTHENTICITY 175
CONCLUSION: RESILIENCE OF THE IDEALIZATION OF MARRIAGE AND THERAPY 176
CHAPTER FIVE: ACHIEVING THE RELATIONAL SELF: THERAPEUTIC CULTURE AND
EVANGELICAL THOUGHT 178
RELATIONAL CHRISTIANITY? THE PROBLEM OF THE INDIVIDUAL-IN-RELATIONSHIP 179
RELATIONAL CHRISTIANITY: EVANGELICAL CHALLENGES TO INDIVIDUALISM 180
CREATING INTIMACY AND EMOTION IN A LARGE MARKET SEGMENTED CHURCH 181
THE MARRIAGE EXPERIENCE: BIBLICAL INTERSUBJECTIVITY 183
INDIVIDUALISM TAKES A STAND 188
KNOWING WHAT GOD WANTS: THE RETURN OF THE CHARISMATIC TO EVANGELICALISM? 191
CONCLUSION: MARRIAGE EDUCATION AND THE REDEFINING OF EVANGELICALISM 198
THERAPEUTIC MARRIAGE EDUCATION AS RELIGION: ETHNOGRAPHY OF EVANGELICALISM 201
COSMOPOLITAN MIDWESTERN EVANGELICALISM: KUYPER AND THE REFORMED TRADITION 203
EVANGELICAL MARRIAGE TEACHING AS CULTURAL ACTIVISM 207
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THERAPEUTIC MARRIAGE ACTIVISM FOR EVANGELICALISM 209
I have been given much by my family and friends and over the past ten years. They are
owed most of the credit, and none of the blame, for what is in this dissertation.
My parents, Tom and Sarah, have always reinforced the value of good reading and good
conversation. Well before I learned words like ethnography they showed me the value of
talking, and listening, to strangers and neighbors. Their generosity and support and that of my
sisters Annie and Kelly, and of Mary Kay, Tony and Zeke, made this possible. My spouse, Sarah
Osten, has been a source of ongoing support and inspiration. Im glad we went through the last
few years of this together.
I wouldnt have been able to finish without the insight, support, and company of my
friends and fellow students in Human Development. I wouldnt have bothered starting if not for
my friends who were with me before I began my graduate education.
I have learned much from my dissertation committee and others at the University of
Chicago. My dissertation advisor, Jennifer Cole, has made me a much better reader and writer,
setting an example of how to encounter new ideas with both generosity and critical rigor.
Richard Taubs gregariousness, insight, and aversion to lazy buzzwords provided his students
with an environment both intellectual and grounded. (It was also nice to be able to show up at the
Department and have a good conversation about the NFL.) Eugene Raikhel helped me see how
my research might connect to other studies of health and wellbeing in the United States and
elsewhere. Dain Borges curiosity and expansive reading suggestions reminded me that
intellectual work can be fun, and represent what I liked best about the University. Jennifer Coles
ethnographic writing seminar and the US Locations and Clinical Ethnography workshops helped
me turn a few fuzzy ideas into chapters, and also provided great company. Bert Cohler, Betty
Farrell, Don Kulick, John Lucy, Tanya Luhrmann and Rick Shweder were all generous with their
time and insight.
Finally, and probably most importantly, it is my pleasure to thank the individuals who let
me interview and otherwise spend time with them for my fieldwork. Their patience and warmth
made research thought provoking and fun. Many around the marriage ministry helped me a good
deal; most important among them are G. and L. who made me feel at ease and valued in their
company. They suffered immense tragedy during my fieldwork, and the grace and love they
showed around that time will stay with me always. I know that my account in this dissertation
can only be insufficient to many who helped me. Please know that you taught me very much.
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
This dissertation is a study of marriage education and counseling in a prominent
evangelical Christian megachurch in suburban Chicago, Willow Creek Community Church.
Willow Creeks main campus, in South Barrington, Illinois, draws over 20,000 attendees per
week to its services, and also offers a variety of social services and educational programs that are
made available to members and to the community at large. One of the most popular and
prominent such services is Willow Creeks marriage education ministry, a recurring multi-week
course that draws on both religious teaching and contemporary mainstream psychology. While
many critics within evangelical Protestantism decry engagement with contemporary psychology
and other forms of secular expertise, Willow Creek actively bridges religious and psychological
expertise. Further, much of Willow Creeks success in attracting a large membership and
establishing itself as a major influence in contemporary evangelicalism is due to its combining of
evangelical Christianity and contemporary professional expertise; Willow Creek employs current
therapeutic techniques while offering believers a distinctly Christian way of being. Evangelical
movements also use marriage counseling to reach those outside the church, and in their political
and other civil discourse offer fluency in marital counseling in support of a role for the church in
defining American family norms. This dissertation explores how Willow Creeks fusion of
evangelicalism and counseling expertise affects religiosity and marriage around the church. It
also examines a dilemma faced by contemporary US evangelicals: how can a religious tradition
that has long defined itself against the secular and the modern incorporate contemporary secular
The first major theme of this dissertation is how contemporary psychology, when
incorporated into religious marriage teaching, reflects and encourages new conceptualizations of
religious commitment. The predicament of how to remain distinct from the broader world
outside the church while evangelizing to it is a long-standing one for Protestant movements in
the United States, and evangelicalism has used debates around marriage to define itself as
distinct from the broader culture. This predicament is heightened by the generativity of marriage
counseling and other therapeutic discourses, which offer religious leaders a language to articulate
models for Christian personhood for its believers, and a domain in which religious institutions
can assert their own expertise in public debates around marriage. In order to promote a religious
model for marriage, evangelical churches have come to use practices that are not religious in
the sense that evangelicals themselves, and their non-evangelical neighbors, understand the term.
The theoretical frameworks through which marriage is often discussed, and the practices the
church teaches to individuals to use in their marriages, are deeply informed by psychotherapeutic
models of communication and of individual development. Willow Creeks ministers and
members alike are keenly aware that engagement with the ways of the world has some
potential to lead individuals astray, but the theology of the church also holds that God can act
through any agent or event, which can sometimes justify the use of non-religious expertise. In
this case, the marriage ministry marks contemporary American and therapeutic intimate practice
as, at least potentially, within the domain of the religious.
The second major theme of this dissertation is how US evangelicalism promotes its
marriage expertise as a form of social activism by asserting that Christianity is the best, and
perhaps only, means to achieve marital happiness. Willow Creeks leadership has actively
worked to avoid the partisan affiliations of other prominent Christian social movements that have
engaged in electoral politics to enforce their own mores of marriage and family. Yet the churchs
leadership sees itself as called to influence the wider world, and has been particularly influential
in the United States. The late 20
and early 21
centuries have seen a proliferation of political
and social science movements that have sought to promote heterosexual marriage as a means to
sustain a functioning social order. So by addressing marriage, Willow Creek steps into an area
of contemporary political resonance, but it does so by appealing to individuals via teaching and
therapy, rather than by aligning with partisan political movements. Although Protestantism has
had a significant influence on the US ideal of freely chosen, love-based marriage, Christians and
non-Christians alike in the United States have tended to view marriage as a social institution that
has become increasingly secular. Many evangelical churches, Willow Creek included, see
bringing marriage back to God as part of their social mission and religious obligation. This
dissertation uses the churchs marriage ministry as a case study of contemporary
evangelicalisms engagement with the broader world.
Willow Creeks marriage ministry is just one part of how the church claims its middle
class suburban environs for God, but the political centrality of marriageand the profoundly
psychological ways in which US Americans understand the institutionmakes it a particularly
generative and influential one, at a particularly influential church. This dissertation shows that
Willow Creeks marriage ministry is a productive way for the church to distinguish its form of
evangelicalism against fundamentalism and the religious right, as well as from more
theologically liberal mainline Protestantism, but one that may have profound consequences for
how participants in evangelicalism come to understand religious commitment. Evangelical
counseling education does provide evangelicals with ways of understanding therapeutic norms as
authentically and meaningfully Christian, but in so doing cedes theological and ideological
specificity, and may undermine the re-institutionalizing goals of contemporary marriage
Willow Creek within Contemporary Evangelicalism
For much of the late 20
and early 21
centuries, most non-evangelicals have associated
evangelicalism with the partisan religious right and fundamentalist Christianity. While Willow
Creeks assertion of Biblical literalism (the claim that the Bible presents a literal and true
historical account) is shared with fundamentalists, its media ambitions are similar to those of the
televangelists, and many (though not all, or even most) of its members share the Republican
political sympathies of the Christian right, Willow Creek actively works to define itself against
these movements. The evangelicalism of Willow Creek is a contemporary iteration of what many
scholars of US religion term neo-evangelicalism. This was a movement that emerged in the mid
century in response to the hostile and separationist rhetoric of Christian fundamentalism at
that time, which was overwhelmingly racially segregationist and increasingly marginal to
American public life (Hankins 2008). The National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) was
formed in 1941 as an umbrella organization for churches that eschewed the separatism of
Fundamentalists but (in contrast to mainline Protestant denominations) also asserted the
inerrancy of the bible and the need to be born again in Christ to attain salvation. NAE-affiliated
institutions such as Billy Grahams ministry, the Fuller Theological Seminary, and the magazine
Christianity Today, all established in the 1950s, set out to convert the United States through
outreach rather than jeremiads, and to provide bible-believing Christians with institutions
through which they could partake of middle class life as Christians.
In the late 20
century, evangelical churches (some of which were affiliated with formal
denominations, like the Southern Baptist Church, though many, like Willow Creek, were non-
denominational) saw rapid growth while mainline Christian churches experienced declines in
membership and attendance. The new voluntarism (Wuthnow 1988) that characterized US
American religion saw millions joining new churches, leaving those in which they had been
raised, most commonly the Roman Catholic church or the larger Protestant denominations such
as the Episcopal and Methodist churches. The rise of non-denominational evangelicalism in the
suburban United States has often been pointed to as evidence of a resurgence of American
religion (especially when considered alongside the growth of global fundamentalisms in the
same era; e.g. Turner 2011), but it was also enabled by a variety of demographic, geographic,
and economic factors (Wilford 2012). The large growth of suburban areas after World War II
continued and expanded into exurban areas in the decades that followed, fueling the growth of
what are sometimes known as edge cities, (Garreau 1991) such as the Rolling Meadows-
Schaumburg area near Willow Creek. By 1990 these suburban and exurban areas were home to
46 percent of the US population, and they fed new churches with a growing population of
upwardly mobile nuclear families moving to areas where they commonly lacked social networks.
like Willow Creek and Rick Warrens Saddleback Church in Orange
County, California, are the most prominent examples of churches that flourished in such exurban
areas. Megachurches gained much attention for their size and aesthetic that consciously breaks
Megachurches are not unique to the non-charismatic, more modern neo-evangelicalism of Willow
Creek and Saddleback. The largest church in the United States is Joel Osteens 43,000-member Lakewood Church,
which shares Willow Creeks non-denominationalism, but offers a Word of Faith theology that includes prosperity
gospel teachings and a Pentecostal/charismatic emphasis on healing miracles. The term megachurch was coined
to describe Protestant churches with largetypically, when a definition is provided, 2,000 members or more is the
cut-offmemberships (Thumma 2008).
from those traditionally marked as religious, exemplifying what sociologist of religion Donald E.
Miller termed new paradigm churches (Miller 1997). These are churches that attempt to meet
what they perceive to be the psychosocial needs of nuclear families in their region, by providing
a range of services not traditionally associated with churches in the United States. White-
majority megachurches (megachurches are a large segment of both the largely segregated white
and black evangelical communities, but the style and rhetoric of these new paradigm churches
describes those of white-dominated churches; Edwards 2008) are famous for their casually
dressed pastors and their use of media such as indie-style video and Christian rock in their
services. The church growth movement that Willow Creek exemplifies is also renowned for
combining contemporary techniquespodcasts of sermons, online registration for major holiday
services, therapeutic languagewith a claim that churches follow the word of thousands of year
old religious texts.
In contrast to fundamentalist and other church movements that speak to working-class
and marginalized communities, the middle class orientation of neo-evangelical megachurches
engenders a less desperate and apocalyptic theology (Balmer 2006). In terms of landscape and
building architecture, they tend to fit in with the large shopping malls, stadia, and real estate
developments in their usually exurban settings, typically featuring large parking lots and
auditoriums (Thumma and Travis 2007; Willow Creek is only accessible by car). The interior
design has a similar sensibility: Willow Creek more or less has the feel of an upscale mall, with
large clear windows, a bank of escalators draped by an indoor waterfall, multiple places to buy
food and Christian media such as Bibles, Christian fiction and Christian psychology and self-
help books. A sociological account of the development Willow Creek argued that seeker-
oriented churches like Willow Creek present a more plausible model of Christianity to
contemporary US Americans (Sargent 2000: 33), in line with dominant middle class cultural
models of authentic self-fulfillment (Bellah et al 1985), through a therapeutic form of
evangelicalism (Hunter 1987).
The emphasis on immediate, individual-level pragmatic concerns of the churchs social
ministry is also a way to distance the church from partisan debates (Gallagher 2004) in which
churches affiliated with the Religious Right (such as Jerry Falwells Thomas Road Baptist
megachurch, or Pat Robertsons fundamentalist Christian charismatic media empire) have
engaged. This pragmatic non-partisan strategy allows the church, at the level of the institution, to
appeal to seekers of diverse political persuasions, and allows individual members to defuse
political disagreements. As one Obama-supporting church member explained, he was able to cut
off a recurring argument with an aggressive Republican member of his mens group
out how their disagreements were interfering with their groups ability to serve as a source of
mutual accountability and spiritual growth.
Many observers have argued that Willow Creeks
influence is in part due to its success in defining itself against the religious right.
Willow Creek Amidst Contemporary Suburbia
Willow Creeks founder and lead pastor, Bill Hybels, is a prominent and oft-cited (e.g.
Swartz 2012) example of post-partisan evangelism. An affable, self-effacing Midwesterner,
Hybels presents himself as an easily-flustered grandfather in khakis who would spend his
weekends fishing for Muskie on his boat if he hadnt been inspired to lead one of the largest
Mens groups and womens groups are popular forms of small groups within megachurches, in which
church members often discuss issues of sexuality and psychological wellbeing in gender-segregated groups of six to
The prominence of several public Obama supporters in the church is one way that Willow Creek might
work to avoid the role conflict experienced by white evangelical Democrats in the United States, most of whom
attend Republican-dominated evangelical churches (Rhodes 2011).
churches in the United States. Hybels plays an important symbolic and pragmatic role for
Willow Creek. Through Hybels and his direction of Willow Creek we can observe the
intellectual and theological traditions of American evangelicalism interact with the contingencies
of life (Hybels own and others) in the Chicago area, particularly the larger sociological trends
that shaped the growth of the church.
Raised by a prosperous Michigan family who attended a small Christian Dutch Reformed
church, Hybels was poised to take over the familys wholesale produce company as a young man
when he had a religious epiphany (Sargent 2000). Hybels handed over the company credit cards,
along with the keys to the familys boat, plane and car, and moved to the Chicago area where he
soon began to serve as the youth pastor at a church in suburban Park Ridge. He and a friend
established a quickly growing teen outreach ministry they called Son City, which expanded from
about 100 students in 1973 to one thousand by 1975. Over the next few years he completed his
college degree at Trinity International University, an evangelical university in the north suburbs
of Chicago, where he took classes with Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, a prominent supporter of womens
leadership within evangelicalism who Hybels credits with much of his theological development.
At the age of 23, Hybels decided to establish a church based on the kind of biblically
functioning communities that he discussed with Bilezikian, where women could participate
alongside men, where new converts felt welcomed into a Christ-focused environment, and
where, in his telling, he could minister to whole families, not just youth. (Sargent 2000).
Hybels and others that joined him from Son City were also influenced by Robert Schullers
Garden Grove Community Church (later called Crystal Cathedral) in Orange County, California,
and Schullers 1975 boo