Good news from Willow Creek about quite a paradigm shift:
After modeling a seeker-sensitive approach to church growth for three decades, Willow Creek Community Church now plans to gear its weekend services toward mature believers seeking to grow in their faith.
The change comes on the heels of an ongoing four-year research effort first made public late last summer in Reveal: Where Are You?, a book coauthored by executive pastor Greg Hawkins. Hawkins said during an annual student ministries conference in April that Willow Creek would also replace its midweek services with classes on theology and the Bible....
Greg Pritchard, author of Willow Creek Seeker Services, told CT the church "sporadically has recognized it was not teaching a robust enough biblical theology and needed to turn the ship around.
"It is a huge shift," Pritchard said of the church's planned changes to its services. "But they're still using the same marketing methodology. Willow appears to be selecting a new target audience with new felt needs, but it is still a target audience. Can they change? Yes, but it will take more than just shifting their target audience."
This is what I had to say about the study on December 5 last year:
Church is for the community of believers. The pastor is the shepherd who guides and teaches the sheep=believers. But at Willow Creek, the sheep fend for themselves and the programs are for unbelievers. Willow Creek calls itself a church but is in reality a perpetual evangelism rally. Hybels isn't a pastor, he's an evangelist. The problem comes when people attend thinking they're getting church, when really the sole focus of the church is evangelism. Billy Graham never started a church or claimed to pastor people. He did his job as evangelist and then encouraged local churches and pastors to do their job of feeding and discipleship. I think Hybels and Willow Creek would serve the Body better if they didn't claim to be a church. Churches and pastors don't leave believers to "self-feed."
Willow Creek says they're "seeker-obsessed." Great. We need evangelists with that obsession for the lost. That's a specific gift of the Spirit in the New Testament. And pastor is a different one. A church can't have that obsession to the exclusion of discipling the believers in its care. Do the job of an evangelist and then send new believers to a church instead of leaving them to "self-feed."