There was an article that came out at the end of October that has been on my mind at least once a day since I read it. It is in my head and on my heart. I have received emails from more than five friends in ministry making sure I have seen it. It is really a stirring confession that was released by Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois. Here is the link...click here!
Willow Creek is a mega church that has impacted many churches and church leaders with their wealth of resources and training. This church (and they have their own association), under the leadership of Bill Hybels has been on the front edge of church growth strategies and tools for the last 15 years in America. Highly Influential. I have driven all the way out there for a conference myself.
A brief summary of the article is that Willow Creek is saying:
- They have focused too much on the size of a church, numbers and providing people with what they want.
- They are realizing that in neglecting to give people what they need, they have failed to teach people how to engage in a healthy and personal faith journey.
- They have confessed that they have made a mistake and sent people in the wrong direction.
OK, now, I am going to be blogging more about this, but let me share with you a few of my personal thoughts and ideas and how this article is impacting my thinking. Again, I will elaborate more later, but here goes:
- It is easy to fill a church. It's easy for the church...Just say the right things, advertise in the right places, have the right programs, appeal to people's senses, exert enough Charisma, have the right friends, be creative, have cool publications and a cool website, create buzz, so on and so on and the chances are you will grow a church! It's easy for the people. Show up for an hour and a half a week so that we grow this thing. That's easy enough. For most people, if you will give them a creative enough service, they will give you your hour and a half. We've got a deal.
- The difficult part is to fill lives with lordship of Jesus Christ and to create Disciples (Matt. 28:18-20)! This is the tough part for the church (organizationally) and the people (the people are the church). Discipleship is the job of the faithful, the strong, the brave. When the church commits to discipleship (over church growth), they take on a hefty task! Reason...because it is so much more difficult for the people you are reaching. An hour and a half of sitting is simple and even fun. Changing my language, my choices, the way that I treat my spouse, my trips to the club, finding time for God through the week...that is a whole different conversation. That is the conversation of discipleship...a journey for the faithful, the strong, and the brave!
At CCF, do we want to grow a church or disciple people? This is a huge question.
More about this later...Tricia is inviting me to the grocery store...for the 4th time in the last 15 minutes. Peace!