Recently, in this post, I reviewed REVEAL: Where Are You?, published by Willow Creek Community Church following the beginning of its ministry rethink in 2004. The follow-up volume to REVEAL is FOLLOW ME: What’s Next For You? (Greg L. Hawkins and Cally Parkinson, Willow Creek Association, 2008). In this book, the authors follow up REVEAL with their discoveries about what catalyzes spiritual growth. Their research went beyond the walls of Willow into an additional 200 churches, where 80,000 people were surveyed about their spiritual development.
I won’t give away the findings of the book – let me just say that they were both surprising and not surprising. Programming isn’t the answer; drawing people into a deeper relationship with Christ is the answer. And people are drawn into a deeper relationship with Christ when they realize just how head-over-heels in love with them God is.
The big learning point for me in this book is the idea of helping the church shift from making people dependent on the church to creating an interdependent partnership between the church and the maturing believer. In other words, as people grow more deeply in their faith, their need for the church becomes more of a desire for the church. The church becomes the coach, the resource-provider, the fellowship-giver, and not the be-all and the end-all of life (that’s Jesus’ job, right?).
I encourage you to pick up both REVEAL and FOLLOW ME. They’ll be great resources for church leaders as they engage in the continual process of visioning for the church.