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The Strengths Movement

Willow Creek Repents

The title of this entry is taken from another entry on another site. The site is Out of Ur from Christianity Today magazine and the entry is a recent post concerning the Willow Creek Association's study of how effective its world-famous seeker-sensitive programs have been. In fact, there are two entries and I suggest that you read them both along with all the comments.

Here is a summary of the findings: "Spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage." Willow Creek has to face that they invested millions of dollars and thousands of man hours in programs that, well, haven't flat-out worked.

Here are some of my thoughts on the matter:

1. I applaud Willow for making an effort to find out how effective their programs have been. The hardest aspect of church work can often be measuring how effective we are at what we do. What do we measure? How do we measure progress in someone's life and in the life of a congregation? The lack of tangible results can be frustrating or depressing. The lack can also cause leaders not to measure at all, but to just continue "doing their thing," whatever their "thing" may be. How often have you heard someone say when a church program goes nowhere, "Well, if one person was helped, it was all worth it!"? No, if only one person was helped, the church wasted a lot of time and money, nothing more.

2. I applaud Willow that they made their findings public. How often have we seen churches with "bad news" either hide the news, since the "people" would not be able to handle it, or they put a spin on the bad news to make leadership look better.

3. I applaud Willow that their leaders are involved in the current dialogue, or at least Greg Hawkins is involved. Do you see anyone from the ministries that are being investigated for their financial decisions coming forward to interact with the public, including their critics? I don't. Yet Willow is facing the music, so to speak, and trying to learn from the process.

I have never been a big fan of the seeker-sensitive churches, although their passion for the unchurched is commendable. I think Bill Hybel's annual leadership conference is the best in the Church world, and that format is now being emulated by John Maxwell and others. In this current discussion, I see Hybel's and team applying many of the principles that I have heard and learned in their leadership events. So let's keep the dialogue going on this subject and learn what we can from Willow's mistakes. Thank you, Willow Creek, for making them so public. There may be hope for the American Church to self-correct itself after all.

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Like the creek finding its way love will find a way to the ocean of His precense. Yes, even in winter! Beauty, love, and His Presence all surround us wherever, however, whomever we are. To God be the glory for the power of Hisneverending love.Whether in a wellworn leather chair in the solitude of a old cabin along city streets or country ditchbanks, surrounded by freshly fallen snow, blackened earth or green He is there and He is here, in the comfort of my home. Thank your for your Sunday sermon . What a lovely way to begin the day .inpraise to our Living Lord.

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