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 theyâ€™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 itâ€™s the mature believers that drive everything in the churchâ€”including evangelism.
Hawkins says, â€œWe used to think you canâ€™t upset a seeker. But while focusing on that weâ€™ve really upset the Christ-centered people.â€ 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 theyâ€™re not being challenged enough.
Because itâ€™s the mature Christians who drive evangelism in the church Hawkins says, â€œOur strategy to reach seekers is now about focusing on the mature believers. This is a huge shift for Willow.â€
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 â€œhard-hitting stuff.â€ 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 didnâ€™t want to be identified, approached, confronted, or asked to do anything. But those days are over.
â€œAnonymity is not the driving value for seeker services anymore,â€ says Hawkins. â€œWeâ€™ve taken anonymity and shot it in the head. Itâ€™s dead. Gone.â€ In the past Willow believed that seekers didnâ€™t want large doses of the bible or deep worship music. They didnâ€™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, â€œWeâ€™ve tried incremental changes for four years, but now we know we have to overhaul our whole strategy.â€ Small steps are no longer the method; Willow is revamping everything. â€œIt would be malpractice for us to not do something with what weâ€™re learning."