Not-So-Surprising Conclusions

Pastor Matt Ro from Journey Church of Atlanta forwarded me an article that was pretty interesting to read. In this article there was an assessment made about the whole “seeker sensitive” movement that was started by Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Bill Hybels became the authority and expert on the whole movement.

Since then so many other pastors and churches have followed suit and went with the “seeker sensitive” model as the way to “do church.” In fact, many church “adopted” the so called “new paradigm” to do ministry because the fruits were there – how can anyone complain of a church growing by the thousands?

On one hand, I think there were some good in the whole movement. It brought irreligious people into the church to hear the Gospel message when all things being neutral would never step into the four walls of the church. Also, there was a greater push for evangelism which I think is a good thing.

But on the other hand, there were some shortcoming and now things are beginning to show.

Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins (an executive pastor of Willow Creek) co-authored a book called, “Reveal: Where Are you?”. In this book, there is a release of a study that Willow Creek did on their own ministry. It was a study over many years on the effectiveness of their programs and even their philosophy of ministry.

It is quoted as saying that even Bill Hybels calls the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” Wow!

So what was the conclusion from the study?

The study showed that everything that they have been trying to do for over 30 years and all the millions of dollars put into the programs have not produced mature disciples of Jesus Christ. Bill Hybels in his confession says,

“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own. Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.”

It must have been a humbling discovery for Bill Hybels and the rest of his associates.

First of all, I am amazed at their humility and candor. For them to confess to something this huge, shows their commitment and desire to continue to build up the Body of Christ for God’s glory.

Secondly, I am realizing more and more that there are no shortcuts to growing mature and radical disciples of Jesus Christ. It takes commitment and sacrifice to follow after Christ. It is a no-brainer but something we have to be reminded of once in awhile.

As in the words of Jesus, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:34-37)

Also in Luke 14:26-27, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.”

I am praying that we, at HMCC can produce these radical kinds of Christ-followers who will transform the world.

You can read the full article here.

Here is another related link from the Out of Ur Blog.