Staff Development and Willow’s Reveal

Once a month our ministry staff has lunch to discuss something we have been reading together.  I used to think I should lead this every month, but once I handed off the leadership to other staff, I’ve loved being “part of the conversation” instead of driving the conversation.  (It’s a lot less prep time too!).

Tuesday, Bobby Jackson led us through a discussion of “Reveal“.  It is the results of a study that Willow Creek Community Church did of themselves and a number of other churches, taking a candid and challenging look at how well they are mature Christ-Followers.  It was a great discussion and I thought a few take-aways were worth sharing.

1.  The conclusion I shared with the staff was actually this: The book made me feel sad for Willow.  I’m a big fan of Willow Creek because I think they have re-ignited thousands of churches over the past 25 years with a passion for truly reaching lost people and not hunkering down, content to let church be about the people already inside.  I think Suncrest and many many other churches have taken the best parts of Willow and then created our own unique churches.  Here is the sad part:  It felt to me like Willow is now discovering things and thinking in ways that many leading churches already processed 5-10 years ago and have already moved past.  Not only is willow not “the leader” any more, but it seemed like in some ways they have an unawareness of the leading edge thinking that is in ministry and discipleship today.

I almost hate typing that, because willow has been such a tremendously positive influence.  (And in some areas (like leadership issues/leadership summit), I think they still are leading the way.

2.  It reinforced how much I feel like the 4 C’s are a fantastic way to promote and gauge spiritual maturity.  For too long, people thought you were mature if you could give an explanation of the trinity and read your bible every day (whether you got anything out of it or not).  I think the message was self-discipline equals maturity and cognitive learning equals maturity.

But these 4 C’s go beyond that and acknowledge that maturity is found in Jesus’ life so to actually live life in the ways that defined him is a true picture of spiritual vibrancy/maturity.  Here are those 4 again…

-Jesus said, “I did not come to be served, but to serve” so we know a key aspect of spiritual vibrancy is to CONTRIBUTE by Serving.

-Jesus said “I have come to seek and save those who are lost” so we know a key aspect of spiritual vibrancy is to CARE about people far from God.

-Jesus said “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full” so we know a key aspect of spiritual vibrancy is CULTIVATING a personal relationship with Jesus.

-Jesus had a tight group of friends…a real community to share life with.  As Paul reflects on how we grow he says, “speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ…” so we know a key aspect to spiritual vibrancy is CONNECTING in relationships where truth meets life.

3.  The most helpful part of the Reveal book for our discussion was putting a name/category on part of most everyone’s spiritual journey.  They found that after an initial spark and passion, many people get “stalled” before growing on to maturity.  In my reflection and the staff’s reflection, we could start to put many, many faces at suncrest in that category (including, if we are honest, some of ourselves).  That happens to different degrees, but it is something we will be tackling this fall.

~ by Greg Lee on May 21, 2008.

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