These are the top ten blogs in cyberspace about the book
Reveal that was published by Willow Creek. As a pastor of pastors, I
find this kind of humility so refreshing. Please take the time to read
and think about your own journey as you are being conformed to the
image of God's dear Son.
BLOG #10 MISSIONAL MUSE: DEREK MAXSON
In 2004, Willow Creek was trying to figure out where people were in their spiritual growth and development. A congregational survey was planned, but unlike previous surveys, this one would benefit from new scientific insights that help organizations measure the unseen—including emotions.
Typical surveys can help you understand the basic demographics of your congregation: Life Stage: age, marital status, kids, etc.
Spiritual background. Length of time . . . at your church, following Jesus, etc.Involvement: serving, small groups, services, etc.
After more than a decade of discovering the basics about the people in their church, the leaders of Willow Creek found there was a way to go deeper. Through the experience and expertise of Eric Arnson, a survey was developed that measured the hearts of people in the congregation for the first time.
This is not an attempt to reproduce the book or the entire conference, but is simply some excerpts from the conference.
1. The Reveal analysis currently profiles 6 basic groups of people:
- Exploring Christianity: "I believe, but I'm checking it out."
- Growing in Christ: "I believe and I'm working it out."
- Close to Christ: "I rely on Jesus daily."
- Christ-Centered: "Jesus is the most important part of my life."
- Early Stalleds: "I believe in Christ but I haven't grown lately."
- Dissatisfieds: "I'm committed to Jesus, but my church is letting me down."
2. Early Stalleds are 15% of the church:
- They practice spiritual disciplines less (such as Bible reading) than the Explorers (and all other groups profiled).
- They previously enjoyed spiritual growth but feel stagnant now.
- They have a significantly higher rate of addictions and emotional issues indicating that there may be significant hindrances to their growth.
3. Dissatisfieds are 5%-15% of the church (average is 9%):
- The are dissatisfied with all major programs of the church (services, small groups, etc). This is not due to "entertainment" issues, but is about their growth.
- They attend church and other activities nearly as much as those who indicate satisfaction and growth.
- They serve, give and share Christ.
- These are spiritual, committed people who love Jesus but they just don't feel "satisfied" with their current church experience.
- Of this category of people, over 60% are actively considering leaving the church.
4. The programs of the church become less satisfying as spiritual growth occurs:
- Services, Small Groups mean the most to those profiled as "Close to Christ" and actually become less important as they continue to mature.
- Service becomes a key to engagement amongst the most mature.
- Daily spiritual growth practices increasingly become catalysts to growth. As people mature, programs become less important, but deep time with God and with other spiritually-minded people become the fuel.
- The impact of the small group and other similar forms of community carry less impact and the value of close spiritual friends or mentors increases.
5. Some summaries about spiritual growth in these profiles:
- Spiritual growth is about increasing relational closeness to Christ and can't be measured exclusively by behaviors you see.
- A church's most active volunteers, donors and evangelists come from the most spiritually advanced segments.
- Churches appear to be most effective in the early stages of spiritual growth. Their role then shifts from being a primary influence to a secondary one.
- Personal spiritual practices are the building blocks for a Christ-centered life.
- Pain and difficulty in life can be times of exceptional spiritual growth.
6. Keys to Satistfaction:
- Reveal indicated 5 (and a half) key elements for spiritual growth:
- Challenges me to grow and take next steps (56%).
- Helps me to understand the Bible in greater depth (55%).
- Helps me develop a personal relationship with Christ (51%).
- Helps me apply the Bible to my life (50%).
- Provides compelling worship services (49%).
- Provides strong programs for children to learn about God (35%).
- #6 was high among people with children, but since only 58% of respondents had kids, that lowers the numbers.
Nothing else was above 27% (and the next two are serve in the church and serve people in need).
It was suggested that if a church focuses on these items (in the context of ministry to adults), then we will increase the "satisfaction level" of people at every level of spiritual growth, because this is literally what most people are really looking for in their church to provide.
- Dissatisfieds and Early Stallers are the "swing states" at our churches. The difference between good and great may be how effectively the church is able to convert the dissatisfieds back to a period of joyful growth (Christ-Centeredness) and the Early Stallers back to growing in Christ. Therefore, specific ministry strategies should be targeted at these groups: Dissatisfieds: Do the 5 major things better (see #6). Early Stallers: Bring them back to the cross ("He who is forgiven much, loves much") and help them seek healing for issues and addictions that they are suffering with.
- I was surprised at how little difference church and small group attendance make in spiritual growth and satisfaction. There's some difference, but the answer doesn't seem to be "get more involved" or "join a small group."
- Deep spiritual relationships and spiritual mentors are real needs that, if met, can help the most spiritual and the dissatisfieds to grow. This isn't a program, but is more organic. Thinking back, all of my deeply impacting relationships fit this type of category, but less than 40% of Christians enjoy this type of relationship.
- People want the challenge to know and obey Jesus. We're not to call them to a program or simply to serve the church's interests. We're to call them to follow Jesus in it's many forms!
- Hawkins recommends that every ministry should be evaluated in how it helps these groups move to the next level and how effective they are at the 5 most important keys.
At Mission O, Ministers Matter!