Thursday, December 06, 2007

What's More Shocking?

Many Christians have followed with interest the Willow Creek Community Church’s candid assessment of their own ministry successes and failures. While thousands of unbelievers have come to know Christ at Willow Creek, the church has recently admitted trouble in helping those new believers mature in their faith walk. Click the pic and then on the next page push the triangular play button to listen to Willow Creek Pastor Bill Hybels talk about what his church has learned.

Please note Hybels never said that making church more comfortable for people far from God [Acts 15:19] is incompatible with deep expository preaching or teaching people to read their Bibles and pray. All he humbly admitted was Willow struggles to do so. Just like every other church!!! Admitting that isn't shocking. Celebrating it is. The Christians criticizing Hybels and Willow could instead make the same points Hybels was emphasizing. Namely, that helping those far from God get closer is a good thing and so is teaching them to feed themselves.

My pastor friend Ryan Bell said it this way, “If anything, Adventist Christians need to learn from Willow how to repent of things they’ve done wrong. What group is more program oriented than Adventism with its large-scale evangelistic campaigns? If people are eager to gloat over Willow, they should look in the mirror and learn from Willow's humility. God is clearly working with them and praise God for their ability to listen and at least try to make changes.”

2 comments:

Kevin said...

I wonder how many Adventist churches would be willing to take the assessment that Bill talks about regarding their own church.

I know we talk about spiritual maturity as a faith group but I see many Adventists that are extremely immature in their faith and their emotional development. How many have heard people leaving Sabbath worship say: "I wasn't fed today"? Sounds like the same issue Willow Creek has identified.

Arden said...

Way to Go for raising the issue, Mike.

Pastor Bill Hybels and his visionary Willow Creek team are examples of great leadership courage, humility and service. One cannot dispute the clear evidence of God's abundant blessings and work of the Holy Spirit as key fixtures in Willow Creek's success in bringing Christ to thousands of unbelievers.

Shame on those who gloat! Before rushing to judgment, Christian Adventists (and other Christians) who diminish Willow Creek for this public admission would do well to respect Matthew 7:3 and be humbled by their/our own congregational conditions! It would be revealing to see how many churches are willing to make a similar assessment honestly.