church faith

Willow Creek

It was a good bus trip yesterday. I am actually blogging on the bus this morning. That’s right, Clif Guy, IT extraordinaire set us up with a rolling hotspot. Sweet! You can check out some pictures from yesterday on my Flickr stream.

We stopped at the self-proclaimed “World’s Largest Truck Stop” in Iowa for lunch and ended up at our hotel in Barrington, IL around 4:30 or so. We were able to unpack and then back on the bus for dinner, conversation and a brief tour at Willow Creek. Our team split up into about 5 groups with a member of their staff for a time of question and answers. I was on the team that met learned about an area that they call Guest Central – which is a place before or after the worship service for people to connect. At Resurrection it would be like our prayer chapel, pastors in the narthex and Connection Point all in one. It is a place for people who are looking for:

  • some sort of response to questions of faith or a response to the service.
  • care for some sort of crisis or personal issue.
  • next steps in their journey of faith.

Good stuff. We all met back together in the green room which is a creative space for worship planning and a place to rest for those who are leading worship. We had another time of question and answers with our whole team and those who were with us from Willow. Adam Hamilton and Bill Hybels were meeting in the next room over and then we had about 30 minutes questions and answers with Bill.

Willow has currently been working with and responding to the results of the Reveal study which was initially a survey of the spiritual growth of their congregation that has expanded into a larger conversation with other congregations. One of the key findings is that increased activities at church do not correlate with increased spiritual growth. Also, as an individual matures in their faith, the church becomes less important in their continued spiritual growth.

The personal spiritual disciplines are a very important part of what helps someone continue to grow in their faith as they are becoming a deeply committed Christian. This would seem to make sense, but does raise a question about the level of activities and programs that we have at Resurrection and also the time and energy placed in programs in other congregations of which I have been a part.  How do we effectively equip people to take control of their spiritual growth? Does the church create a dependency upon itself for spiritual growth of members of the congregation?

By Andrew Conard

Christian, husband, son, brother, homeowner

2 replies on “Willow Creek”

That’s really interesting. I guess it makes sense that, as people grow in their faith, they may spend more time in spiritual disciplines that are solitary in nature. It probably wouldn’t work so well to have a group activity with the purpose of spending more time in solitude, after all. 🙂 Spending more time in purposeful solitude, as part of practicing the spiritual disciplines, was challenging for me at first because I’m fairly outgoing and like being around people. However, now I really miss my solitude time those weeks that I am out doing something almost every night, even when most of the activities are church-related.

Even so, I think that time in community, service, and corporate worship are important components of Christian spirituality, which is why the church is so vital. It’s cool that you’re researching what church activities might be of interest to those who are further along on their spiritual paths… I think there’s a lot the church can do with that, even though it might look different from activities that draw in those just beginning their spiritual growth (which are important to continue offering, as well).

Liz – Thanks for your response. I think that you are absolutely right – community, service and corporate worship are very important part of life as a disciple of Jesus Christ. I think that these things do not become less a part of the life of a deeply committed Christian, however they may not be the source of continued spiritual growth at a level that is needed and appropriate for that individual. I think the bottom line is that more church activity does not equal greater spiritual growth.

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