Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Church is a Great Institution

Yeah, but who wants to be in an institution?

Willow Creek Church and Association have done all of us ministers a great service. They have had the courage to actually investigate how well they were doing as "institutions". Then, in a feat of great excitement, they published the results that seemed to show by their analysis, a lack of success in disciplining their most committed and deeply Christian members.

The chart I posted last time shows the assumptions of the Willow Creek Pastoral Team prior to the research they did. The assumed, like many church and para-church leaders, that by attendance and giving people would naturally grow in faith, satisfaction and spiritual joy.

But it did not happen. In fact, the people who attended most and donated most and volunteered most were, in many cases, the least satisfied. The Seasoned Believers wanted to leave the church in frustration more than any other segment of the congregation!

This led the staff to ask, "What will we do now that we discovered what is NOT working?"

What would you do? What do you think Willow Creek and other churches could do and might do to correct the situation?

PS I recently met a man and wife who attended a large church for over 20 years. They tithed, attended almost every Sunday, went to the special events and supported the various ministries of the church. Their kids went through all the Sunday school classes on a regular basis.

About 10 months ago the couple decided to find a church closer to their home and have not attended Old First Church since. No person from the church of 20 plus years has called, written or acted as though the space in the pew they occupied for so long was empty.

Are all Seasoned Believers taken for granted as they? Would Willow Creek miss a couple such as they? Is the church become an institution rather than a family?

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