We made a mistake
These are the words of one of the original mega-church pastors, the Rev. Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church in thge Chicago area. He was not speaking to the size of his congregation, but to the way the church disciples the faithful. He says now,
We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became 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.I know it can be trendy to bash mega churches, but I visited Willow Creek in 1999, attending worship while there for a conference on church planting. While I didn't care to copy their church, I did like the way they were careful about thinking through what they did and why. Obviously that continues. Now the founding pastor is concerned that created a multi-million dollar Christian Education program that
did not equate into an increase in members capacity to love God more deeply or to love their neighbor in any significant way.At least I agree with their bottom line. The thing for a church to ask is whether people are more involved in loving God and loving their neighbors as themselves than they were before coming in contact with the church (unlike the parody magazine cover to the right). In other words, are those who attend more likely to live out Jesus' teachings than not. Obviously, there will be an immense amount of indiviual differences. But what is the trend within a church?
This is all covered in a recent Diana Butler Bass article for The Alban Institute. The full text is here: Intentionality, Practice, and Vitality. There is more on it here as well from Christianity Today Willow Creek repents. Thanks to World of Your Making for pointing this link out.
The question is, "What can churches do to assist the people who attend not to be like Christians, but to be like Jesus?"
For Diana Butler Bass the solution is "re-basing vital congregational life on spiritual practices, including prayer, theological reflection, generosity, storytelling, discernment, shaping community, hospitality, and leadership."
I think the key is some sort of spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study and regular worship. But with that said, how does a church encourage these practices? What do you think?
Trunk or Treat
I'm sure this is not the sort of discipleship opportunity they have in mind, but this evening we will show our love of neighbors with a free community event sponsored by our church and day school.
Vehicles are to begin gathering at King of Peace at 4:30 p.m. to set up on the grass is front of the long side of our church for Trunk or Treat. We will begin distributing candy to kids at 5 p.m. and will continue until 6:45 p.m. We will also have train and horse rides for children. At 7 p.m., we'll offer a special All Hallows Eve Communion service and coming in different forms of dress is fine. To go along with this, we have Father Steve's Thriller video: