Gilbert Bilezikian (born Paris, June 26, 1927) is a French-born American Christian writer, professor and Baptist pastor. He is cofounder, together with Bill Hybels, of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., "one of America's most important churches." Christianity Today has called him "the man behind the megachurch". The publication further states that without Gilbert Bilezikian, "There would be no Willow Creek—no small groups, no women in leadership, no passion for service".
He was reared in Paris, France by parents who were Armenian refugees. Bilezikian was drafted in the French army where he served as a medic in North Africa during the Algerian liberation conflict. He first came to the United States in 1947, and then again in 1961 to serve for five years as pastor of the Loudonville Community Church in Albany, N.Y. Returning to Paris for seven years, he taught at the European Bible Institute while serving, for part of that time, as Minister of Christian Education at the American Church in Paris.
Bilezikian earned his B.A. from the University of Paris, his M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his Th.D. from Boston University. He also pursued a seven year post-doctoral program at the Sorbonne in Paris under Professor Oscar Cullmann.
For 20 years he was a professor at Wheaton College. Bilezikian interrupted his tenure at Wheaton to assume for three years the presidency of Haigazian University in Beirut, Lebanon, and to teach two years at Trinity College in Deerfield, Illinois. In 1992 he became Professor of Biblical Studies Emeritus at Wheaton College, having been designated Senior Teacher of the Year in 1981 and again in 1992. He is the only faculty member in the history of Wheaton College to have received this distinction twice within the span of a decade.
In 1988 he helped to found Christians for Biblical Equality and drafted the statement "Men, Women, and Biblical Equality" which laid out the biblical rationale for equality as well as its application in the community of believers and the family. The authors included Bilezikian, W. Ward Gasque, Stanley Gundry, Gretchen Gaebelein Hull, Catherine Clark Kroeger, Jo Anne Lyon, and Roger Nicole.
He was a scholar with the Institute for Advanced Christian Studies. As a professional theologian and a church growth expert, Bilezikian is frequently called to lead seminars and to lecture in the USA and abroad. He is an approved speaker for the Staley Distinguished Scholar Lectures.
In addition to numerous articles, Bilezikian is the author of several books:
- Beyond Sex Roles: What the Bible Says about a Woman's Place in Church and Family (1985 1st Edition & 2nd Editions; 2006 3rd Edition; Baker Academic)
- Christianity 101: Your Guide to Eight Basic Christian Beliefs (1993 Zondervan)
- Community 101 (1993 Zondervan)
- Community 101: Reclaiming the Local Church as Community of Oneness
- Comunidad Elemental: Reivindicando la iglesia locol como una comunidad unida (Spanish ed.)
- From Despair to Hope (2012)
- How I Changed My Mind about Women in Leadership (2010 Zondervan)
- The Liberated Gospel: A Comparison of the Gospel of Mark and Greek Tragedy (1977 Baker; reprinted 2010 Wipf and Stock)
- Sébastien Fath Du ghetto au réseau: Le protestantisme évangélique en France 2005 Page 248 "principales mega-church* des Etats-Unis, la Willow Creek Community Church, doit son existence à l'influence décisive de l'enseignement théologique d'un protestant évangélique français, Gilbert Bilezikian (né à Paris en 1927), professeur ..."
- Sébastien Fath, Jean-Paul Willaime Nouvelle France protestante: Essor et recomposition au XXIe siècle 2011 Page 274 S. H. Trigeaud "Gilbert Bilezikian (né en 1927) - Le cas de Gilbert Bilezikian, exploré dans le récent ouvrage de Sébastien Fath Dieu XLYL32, est quant à lui fort différent. Pour mettre en lumière son intérêt pour notre propos, rappelons qu'il s'agit d'un ...aujourd'hui une place significative dans leurs chroniques: ainsi Christianity Today qui lui consacra plusieurs pages en"
- Winner, Lauren F. "The Man Behind the Megachurch". Christianity Today, Nov. 30, 2000. <http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/november13/4.56.html>
- Bilezikian, Gilbert. "The Collected Teaching, Writing, and Reflections of Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian".<http://www.gilbertbilezikian.com>