LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Willow: "Teach People to Feed Themselves"

Today at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels introduced a new book called "Reveal." It is the results of a 3-year survey they conducted at Willow, plus the results from six additional churches surveyed over the past eight months.

I was able to get an early copy and devoured it yesterday. It is an easy read...and it's some amazing stuff that will shake your world if you are in the "business" of local church ministry. As I read it, I found myself saying, "Yes, yes, yes!" It seems so right, yet I've never seen it written about by a respected practitioner (rather than a theorist).

Some notable quotes...

  • “[This] is causing me to see clearly that the church and its myriad of programs have taken on too much of the responsibility for people’s spiritual growth.”
  • “We discovered that higher levels of church activity did not predict increasing love for God or increasing love for other people.”
  • Church activity alone made no direct impact on growing the heart…it was a flat line, and a stunning discovery for us.”
  • “God wired us first and foremost to be in a growing relationship with him—not with the church.”
  • “The church is most important in the early stages of spiritual growth. Its role then shifts from being the primary influence to a secondary influence.”
  • “The church is extremely important in the early stages of [spiritual development], but its main activities—like weekend services and small groups—decline in importance as people [grow closer to Christ]. The church becomes less of a place to go for spiritual development and to find spiritual relationships, and more of a platform that provides serving opportunities.”
  • Those who were dissatisfied: “At the heart of their unhappiness may be the fact that [they did not] realize that much of the responsibility for their spiritual growth belongs to them. This is the big ‘aha’.”
  • “Our analysis paints the picture of the church being too preoccupied with the early growing years, leaving the spiritual adolescents to find their own way—without preparing them for the journey.”
  • “In many cases, we have created an unhealthy dependence and inappropriate levels of expectation among those who call Willow home.”
  • “We have to let people know early on in their journey that they need to look beyond the church to grow…Our people need to learn to feed themselves through personal spiritual practices that allow them to deepen their relationship with Christ.”

This is some amazing stuff that the church needs to spend more time talking about.

The book is called Reveal, and you can find more information about it here.