Apparently Jack has toppled the giant. Or maybe the giant only stumbled. We’re not yet sure but what’s clear is that Bill Hybels has apologized.
If you haven’t heard yet what the head of Willow Creek had to say, check out this article from Christianity Today.
But the essence is that this multi-million dollar facility, with enough staff to run a town, and lots of church programs didn’t produce spiritual growth. Willow Creek is one of the leading megachurches in this country with innovative programs and great energy for impacting the culture.
I don’t fault their motivation. Their church model drew thousands of people hungry for a Christianity relevant to their lives.
The only problem was that these people were not growing spiritually. They came to be fed but didn’t grow. Willow Creek discovered, to its chagrin, that the model grew numbers but not disciples.
It may be tempting, to those sitting on the outside, to withdraw into the good old church of our childhood, to walk away from innovation and church models.
Spiritual growth does happen the old-fashioned way, but that way is not the model of the 1950’s but of the first century. Growth happens with prayer, Bible reading, fellowship. It’s hard work and it’s not glamorous.
Jesus was the broken bread and the poured-out wine. His work was inconvenient and unattractive at times. How does a follower of Jesus grow? Willow Creek found out it wasn’t by racing after programs that pour in but by that which causes us to pour out.