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  • « Preaching (1) | Main | Preaching (2) »

    Greg Hawkins tells about the big changes Willow Creek is making.

    Apparently there are some big changes afoot at Willow Creeek, the mothership of seeker sentitive churches.

    The "Out of Ur" blog reports:

    Today, Greg Hawkins, executive pastor at Willow, recapped the study and then shared some changes that the church is now making in response to the research. He said they’re making the biggest changes to the church in over 30 years. For three decades Willow has been focused on making the church appealing to seekers. But the research shows that it’s the mature believers that drive everything in the church—including evangelism.

    Hawkins says, “We used to think you can’t upset a seeker. But while focusing on that we’ve really upset the Christ-centered people.” He spoke about the high levels of dissatisfaction mature believer have with churches. Drawing from the 200 churches and the 57,000 people that have taken the survey, he said that most people are leaving the church because they’re not being challenged enough.

    Because it’s the mature Christians who drive evangelism in the church Hawkins says, “Our strategy to reach seekers is now about focusing on the mature believers. This is a huge shift for Willow.”

    One major implementation of this shift will occur in June when Willow ends their mid-week worship services that had been geared toward believers. Instead the church will morph these mid-week events into classes for people at different stages of growth. There will be theological and bible classes full of “hard-hitting stuff.” Hawkins said most people are very enthusiastic about the change.

    On the seeker end of the spectrum, Willow is also changing how they produce their weekend services. For years the value people appreciated most about the seeker-oriented weekend services was anonymity. This is what all their research showed. People didn’t want to be identified, approached, confronted, or asked to do anything. But those days are over.

    “Anonymity is not the driving value for seeker services anymore,” says Hawkins. “We’ve taken anonymity and shot it in the head. It’s dead. Gone.” In the past Willow believed that seekers didn’t want large doses of the bible or deep worship music. They didn’t want to be challenged. Now their seeker-sensitive services are loaded with worship music, prayer, scripture readings, and more challenging teaching from the bible.

    Willow has been wrestling with the research from REVEAL since 2004. Hawkins said, “We’ve tried incremental changes for four years, but now we know we have to overhaul our whole strategy.” Small steps are no longer the method; Willow is revamping everything. “It would be malpractice for us to not do something with what we’re learning."

    More ...

    Posted by John on April 11, 2008 11:29 AM


    Praise God!

    This is great, until popular desire shifts again and they have to change everything to accommodate (or else "malpractice")…

    "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ … so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes." [Eph. 4:11,12,14]

    Why don't they check what the Bible says their church should look like instead of surveying 57,000 people every few years. It would be easier.

    I suggest that they might be better off if they throw away their research studies and their strategy notebooks, and concentrate instead on the Word of God.

    Eric wrote:

    "Why don't they check what the Bible says their church should look like instead of surveying 57,000 people every few years. It would be easier."

    I agree. Though it's good they want to move away from their past seeker sensitive approach, they still haven't addressed their fundamental problem which is that they are still looking to what people want (whether they be "seekers" or mature Christians) rather than what Scripture says.

    Their approach is still man-centered.

    What about all the people they have deceived over the last thirty years? How many have died over the past thirty years not knowing the LORD Jesus Christ?

    Is Willow Creek going to completely renounce the seeker-sensitive model, repent of their sins and start preaching and proclaiming solid Reformed theology?

    Just to piggy back off Eric:
    accommodate, strategy, method, survey, seeker-sensitive... I remember all these words from the book of 2 Hesitations, or was it 3 Opinions? I know that they weren't from the lips of Jesus, Paul, or John. When will the "church" stop following Finney in methods of "making" it "easier" for unbelievers? (Whether we embrace the charismata or not aside) Paul says that the church service is for glorifying God, teaching the Word, partaking of the Lord's Table, and edifying the Body; the only thing that I can find in 1 Cor. 11-14 that focuses on how to cater to a non-believer in our worship service is to prophecy their sins in front of everyone and watch 'em get cut to the heart and repent (14:23-25).

    "PREACH THE WORD; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths." (2 Tim 4:2-4)

    What a refreshing WORD.. Just preach the word.. Remember Spuregon said,
    "The Word of God is like a lion, turn
    it loose, it will defend itself"
    Keep on going in the WORD...
    Pastor Leland Hall Ruth 2 12.....

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