Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for. –Bill Hybels
I wrote about this here but I’ve been pondering these words ever since. As loathe as I am to admit it, what was almost as surprising as Willow Creek’s admission of failure was their stated goal, to “help our people grow and develop spiritually.” Is that why they are doing this? Really?
It sounds so cynical, but for those of us outside the Church Growth movement, it seems that their only purpose is the numbers and the cash. That has been reinforced when I hear lay people advocating these methodologies or extolling the huge churches they’ve seen elsewhere. They praise them for how many young people they have, what great giving and future the congregations have. It is the easiest measure of success, the most obvious.
But success in congregations is measured not according to the numbers and amounts, but according to the fruit that is being produced in people’s hearts. Success for the Christian can only be salvation, that of growing more Christ-like in word and deed, in humility and love.
It sounds so basic to write this, yet the flesh, pride and worry constantly drive our eyes to admire external things, to emulate them, to every temptation of worldly life and success we see. Lord have have mercy on us!