Guest / Limited Access /

Willow creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois, has for decades been demonstrating how churches can more effectively reach the unchurched. One reason they remain leaders is their relentless passion to connect with people who don't know Jesus Christ. Another is their intensity in discipling believers. A lesser-known reason is their willingness to ruthlessly examine their own success.

Last summer, Willow published the results of their latest self-study, Reveal: Where Are You? The study surveyed Willow Creek and six other American churches, analyzing thousands of responses and more than 100 interviews. The report's cover says that readers will learn "surprising research findings that rocked Willow." As with everything Willow, even their self-criticism is intensely passionate.

The study shows that while Willow has been successfully meeting the spiritual needs of those who describe themselves as "exploring Christianity" or "growing in Christ," it has been less successful at doing so with those who self-report as being "close to Christ" or "Christ-centered." In fact, one-fourth of the last two groups say that they are either "stalled" in their spiritual growth and/or "dissatisfied" with the church.

As evidenced by the recent flurry of comments about Reveal in the blogosphere, those who admire and those who question Willow's seeker-sensitive approach will find plenty of ammunition here. As admirers of Willow, we offer one critique, as well as praise.

Our ongoing concern about seeker-sensitive churches is not their willingness to change church culture so that it is not a needless stumbling block to the unchurched. We're only troubled when such churches uncritically accept the metrics of marketing culture, and let consumer capitalism ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedThe Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Subscriber Access Only The Case Against 'Radical' Christianity
Michael Horton's message to restless believers: Stay put, and build the church.
TrendingMark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
Mark Driscoll Resigns from Mars Hill
"I do not want to be the source of anything that might detract from our church’s mission."
Editor's PickMy Immigration Status: Beloved
My Immigration Status: Beloved
In Christ I am more than the ‘crime’ I committed at age 5.
Comments
Christianity Today
What Reveal Reveals
hide thisMarch March

In the Magazine

March 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.