Six months ago I realized our church had a problem, so I invited the senior staff to join me in a conference room. I closed the door and announced, "We're not leaving until God gives us an answer."

Part of a church leader's job is to identify and define the reality his or her church is facing. As I thought and prayed about our church's reality, I came to the distressing realization that we didn't have the financial resources to meet the growing spiritual need around us.

"Here's the new reality as I see it," I said, standing in front of a flip chart. I drew a line ascending from left to right. "This line I'll call spiritual opportunity. Never in the history of Willow Creek have we known an era of greater spiritual opportunity.

More people are willing to talk about the gospel or let you pray for them—even come to church—than ever before. Not long ago, if we asked our seatmates on an airplane if they ever thought about the spiritual life, they'd roll their eyes as if to say, Two hundred people ...

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