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This is the question posed in the title of an October 18 article at the Out of Ur blog at the Christianity Today website. The subtitle reads, “Why the most influential church in America now says ‘We made a mistake.'”

Here are a couple of quotes from Bill Hybels that are contained in the article:

Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for.

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

Imagine that. Actually teaching people how to read the Bible for themselves. How could this possibly seem like a novel idea for any church?

Well, at least they are beginning to see through their experience what they should have seen from the Scriptures all along. Not to mention the many, many Christians who have been trying to tell them this for decades now. The author of the article sums it up nicely when he says:

In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.

2 thoughts on “"Willow Creek Repents?"

  1. Wow, I wonder how widely this will be picked up? The more I think about it the bigger this admission seems to be. How many churches have based their approach to ministry on the “Willow Creek approach”? How many college students have been to taught to do the same? How many everyday Christians have been conditioned to judge their church against the “Willow Creek Standard”? An admission from Willow Creek that their approach is possibly flawed has the potential(if taken seriously) to shake Christian popular culture to its core. This, of course, begs the observation; How can a statement from ONE local body have that much potential power over church culture? Sorry if this a somewhat disjointed comment. I really don’t have time to write something coherent right now, but the issue does deserve some discussion.

  2. Excellent observations. And they were not disjointed at all.I agree that it is troublesome that a singe church can have so much influence, especially since that influence seems to be established not on the basis of God’s Word, but rather on the basis of apparent “success” by worldly standards (i.e. attracts lots of people, has a big building, has lots of “programs” for everyone, has a large budget, has a large staff, etc).

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