New Willow Creek REVEALed
Willow Creek’s executive pastor Greg Hawkins announced big changes for the church last week at the Shift Conference. The changes come as a result of their REVEAL survey given to 200 churches of the Willow Association in 2004. Hawkins says they’re “making the biggest changes to the church in over 30 years.”
Willow has long been known as an originator of the “seeker sensitive” church approach, believing that “seekers,” or the unchurched, didn’t want a churchy atmosphere full of deep theology and worship. They simply wanted to attend church anonymously, unapproached, and unchallenged.
In the REVEAL survey, people were asked what they want most from their church. The top three answers were:
1. help me understand the Bible in greater depth
2. help me develop a closer personal relationship with Christ
3. challenge me to grow and take the next step in my faith
The big changes at Willow include curtailing their mid-week worship services that had been geared toward believers. These services will now focus on discipleship classes for varying levels of growth. “Hard-hitting stuff,” according to Hawkins. “Look at what they want!” he said. “They want the Bible, they want to be close to Christ, they want to be challenged. Yes, I will give them what they want!”
“Our strategy to reach seekers is now about focusing on the mature believers. This is a huge shift for Willow.” What was once Willow’s seeker-sensitive weekend service will now consist of worship music, prayer, Scripture readings, and more challenging teaching from the Bible.
Whatever you may think about Willow Creek, past and present, you have to give them props for genuinely caring about what their people want by conducting the survey, then being humble enough to make those results public and responding. It just goes to show, we can all be wrong about something at any given time, but if we are staying close to the Father, and our intent is to do His will, the Holy Spirit will correct us.