Thursday, October 11, 2007

Revealing Research

The research from Willow Creek Church in the book by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson is shocking to many church leaders. In my last post I put up a chart showing the spiritual growth was not related directly to church attendance. The chart on the right shows the assumptions of the authors prior to doing their surveys.
I hope all my readers will order the book from Willow and read it carefully. I think they have hit upon a very important insight. Many Christians, including seminary professors and pastors, share the faulty assumptions as indicated on this chart.
Hawkins and Parkinson say: "If increasing participation in church activities (such as attendance at services and participation in small groups) drives spiritual growth, we would see a direct linear correlation (shown above) between low-medium-high levels of participation and low-medium-high levels of spiritual growth."
But, as the chart on the previous chart shows, there is no such correlation. Attendance alone does not seem to lead to additional spiritual growth. (I think that is especially true for Seasoned Believers who have been involved in Christian activities for several decades.)

1 comment:

paula clare said...

Hi Gary,
I've been reading the Reveal research, and believe there is a direct correlation between the data shown in the research and the "new friars" that are becoming common to our culture. In the book "The New Friars: The Emerging Movement Serving the World's Poor" by Scott Bessenecker, the author surmises that the impetus for church members to begin looking outside the church for ministry and meaning is due to the deepening levels of their spiritual formation. As they seek to become TRUE followers of Christ, their pursuit becomes incarnational...they want to follow Jesus' descent into humanity. It becomes Devotional: they want to pursue intimacy with Jesus. It becomes Communal...they want to spend time with folks whose ministry is their life, it becomes Missional, in that they are pursuing the Kingdom of God in an unabashed, shameless way, and Marginal, they recognize that the church tends to marginalize as many (or more) folks than it draws in. Therefore the pursuit is driven to the margins of society...hanging out where folks presume Jesus would have hung out.

All that to say, how many of our church programs empower or enliven this kind of faith? Seasoned Believers want to put feet to their faith...are we supposed to know intuitively how to do that? Is the Church "with us" in spirit?