Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Review of REVEAL

I just finished reading Reveal by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. The book reveals the results of an intensive church-wide survey conducted with the membership of Willow Creek Church. The results were surprising and serve as eye-openers for any church whose mission is to help people grow toward Christlikeness. Here are some of my takeways from the book:

  • Although numbers matter to God, the health of the church is not about numbers. It is about the movement of people toward Christ and and genuine love for others. In other words, it's quality and quantity.
  • The primary surprise in the research project was that increased attendance in ministry programs does not automatically equate to spiritual growth.
  • It is much easier to count heads than to measure heart change.
  • The research revealed four distinct segments that people move through in their spiritual journey: exploring Christianity, growing in Christ, close to Christ, and Christ-centered.
  • Why isn't there a solid connection between participation in church activities and spiritual growth? Because God wired us first to be in a growing relationship with Him, not the church.
  • The church is most important in the early stages of spiritual growth. Then the church's role shifts to a secondary influence. As one moves toward spiritual maturity, the church moves from playing a spiritual development role to playing a platform for serving role.
  • For people to keep moving toward spiritual maturity, they must learn to develop spiritual disciplines and practice them on their own. In other words, the church doesn't need to handhold people who are moving through the close to Christ and Christ-centered stages. Instead, the church must do a better job of equipping mature Christians in spiritual disciplines (prayer, Bible study, serving, etc.)
  • The more one grows, the more he/she serves, gives, and evangelizes.
  • EYE-OPENER--More than 25 percent of those surveyed described themselves as spiritually "stalled" or "dissatisfied" with the role of the church in their spiritual growth. This dissatisfaction occurred primarily in the Close to Christ and Christ-centered stages. This phenomenon is likely due to lower levels of personal spiritual practices. This 25 percent have even contemplated leaving the church. The 25 percent of respondents represents about 10 percent of the membership.
  • A large segment of those contemplating leaving the church are those in the Christ-centered stage. In other words they are mature, serving, tithing believers.
  • Churches need to do a better job of preparing maturing believers for their journey ahead.
  • We must move people from dependence on the church to an interdependent partnership with the church. To do this we must transition the church from being a spiritual parent to being a spiritual coach.
  • Starting up spiritual dialogues with members would be a helpful thing to do. Ask questions like: How is your relationship with God? What could the church do differently to help you grow more?
  • Every church ministry should be evaluated with the question: How does it help someone grow?

This was an excellent read. I love for books to challenge me and to mess with my mind. I would give this book an A+ in that category. I've already given the book to some of our staff and look forward to some healthy discussions in upcoming planning meetings.

"For our email subscribers, please visit Ken's full blog page at http://www.pastorkenkelly.com/ to view previous blogs and many other helpful links."