The following article is located at:http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/winter/moverightdirection.html
A 'Move' in the Right Direction
A new book takes a closer look at how churches foster spiritual growth.
Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal about Spiritual Growth
( Zondervan, 2011 )Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson
This book may not be for every pastor. There may be a few churches out there in which most of the congregation excels in loving God and loving their neighbors, but for the rest of us, this book is right on target. It lets us peek inside some of the churches that are effectively moving people from a place of nominal belief to living Christ-centered lives.
The book is based on the Willow Creek Association's REVEAL survey, which, since its inception, has been taken by 250,000 people in more than 1,000 churches. My church took the survey the first year it was available. We found it a helpful tool in assessing the spiritual growth of our people, but we really wanted to know which churches were excelling at helping their congregations mature in Christ and discover what we could learn from them. Move answers that desire.
While based on detailed statistics, this is not a book about numbers. It is divided into three sections, and Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson write engagingly by (1) detailing the stages people go through toward becoming fully devoted followers of Christ, then (2) examining the practices that move people forward in their spiritual journey, and (3) conversing with 13 pastors whose churches show the highest percentage of Christ-centered people. The conclusions are game changers.
I live in the northeast United States where church leaders are highly skeptical about ministry principles gleaned from the Midwest or West Coast. But the diversity of the churches high-lighted in Move puts such fears to rest. Some are large, some are small, and they are located in all parts of the country.Yet they have one thing in common-their people, compared with many other churches, are growing significantly in their love for Christ and for others.
If you had the chance to sit in a room with a dozen church leaders who have verifiable data that their flocks are growing in Christ, would you not want to be there?
I am an unapologetic church aficionado. On most Sundays when I am not preaching, I visit other churches to see what I can learn. One Sunday I drove to the church of a pastor friend whom I have known for a long time but had never visited on a Sunday morning. I left that service changed. It seemed that almost everyone had a Bible and a notepad open; they were passionate about evangelism, compassionate toward their community. I knew I wanted to spend more time with this pastor. I was not surprised to find that his was one of the churches that surfaced in the REVEAL survey. This experience also increased, in my eyes, the credibility of the research that Move is based upon.
Move may well turn out to be one of the most important books I have read this year. As soon as I finished it, I wanted to get started with some changes in the way we do things.
So what are the conclusions? If you are a pastor, you are going to have to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, ...