I used the wrong language in my recent letter about Willow Creek. I described what they are learning as "repentance." I apologize for that. The word "repentance" was not the right word to use about the study they did called "Reveal." Below is a blog posting from Greg Hawkins clarifying what exactly did happen at Willow Creek in regard to what they are learning about spiritual formation and participation in programs and cell groups.
I want to express my respect and appreciation for Bill Hybels, Willow Creek and the huge contribution they have made to the body of Christ. If you have not read the story of Willow Creek, I urge you to add Rediscovering Church by Bill and Lynn Hybels to your reading list. It is very inspiring and instructive.
The Truth About REVEAL - October 26, 2007
I'm thrilled to see the high level of interest and energy behind the blogosphere comments about REVEAL. But I've read enough postings to think that it might be helpful to provide a few facts on three issues that keep coming up. Trust me. I'm not into "spin control" here. I just want to fill in some gaps.
1. It's Not About Willow
REVEAL's findings are based on thirty churches besides Willow. In all thirty churches, we've found the six segments of REVEAL's spiritual continuum, including the Stalled and Dissatisfied segments. And these churches aren't all Willow clones. We've surveyed traditional Bible churches, mainline denominations, African-American churches and churches representing a wide range of geographies and sizes. Right now we're fielding the survey to 500 additional churches, including 100 international churches. So, while REVEAL was born out of a Willow research project in 2004, the findings are not exclusive to Willow Creek.
2. Willow Repents?
The Leadership Journal blog started with this question, and the answer is NO. Repenting, in my mind, deals with confessing sin. There is absolutely no sin involved in this deal. Just good, old fashion learning. What you are seeing is a set of leaders coming to grips with some new facts and deciding to do something about it. This is nothing new for us here at Willow. We are passionately committed to learning. Redeeming this broken world through the love and power of Jesus Christ is just too important for us not to be in a constant state of learning. We've always been a church in motion and REVEAL is just another example of Willow trying to be open to God's design for this local church.
3. Is Willow Re-thinking its Seeker Focus?