Seeker-obsessed Willow Creek Repents?

Recently, the net was buzzing about the article Willow Creek Repents? with mixed feelings. I was happy at first and then unsure. Now, BlogOManiac PyroManiac, Phil Johnson, has responded to a criticism of the style of his criticism towards Willow Creek. I, like others, think Willow Creek is just going to replace their old programs with new ones. Aside, that is, from telling or training the more mature believers to be “self-feeders” which doesn’t seem to be biblically warranted. Of course, this has been the complaint all along that all the “programs” and ministry haven’t been biblically warranted.

So did Willow Creek repent? They say so, but probably not in the way many have hoped.

3. Is Willow Re-thinking its Seeker Focus?

* Simple answer – no. My boss would say that Willow is not just seeker-focused. We are seeker-obsessed. The power of REVEAL’s insights for our seeker strategy is the evangelistic strength uncovered in the more mature segments. If we can serve them better, the evangelistic potential is enormous, based on our findings.

My thoughts, and I may be wrong, are that as long as Willow Creek continues to be “seeker-obsessed” there will continue to be the same or very similar problems like the ones they’ve uncovered. They will probably get more criticism since they’ve invited Brian McLaren to speak as part of their “shift”. We’ll see what type of shift this is going to be. And I’d still like to read the book Reveal about Willow Creek’s research in all of this.

We have such a focus in churches today on using business and motivational models to “do church” it would seem some of the people using these methods miss the basics. Whether it be business or even sports, when there are problems with execution in reaching goals you will often hear the old term “back to the basics”.  Even the dreaded word “fundamentals” may come up.

What would getting back to the basics may look like?  Here is an idea.

– remembering your first love, Jesus Christ
– preach and study the Gospel yourself and corporately
– biblically exam your ministry and motives both individually and corporately
– study the purpose and focus of worship in Scripture, preach it, do it
– focus on loving God and each other
(insert prayer often)

Those are some ideas off the top of my head.   Sometimes Many times we make things too hard.  I think that’s because when we get back to the basics we must actually do something rather than just think about doing something.

That’s my two cents…keep the change.



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in Baptist,Church Issues,Culture,theology

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Thomas Twitchell October 30, 2007 at 2:08 am

Good comments on .

They are some of my own. I know that I am backing into this post here. There is a connection, right? We carp about commercialization of everything when in fact it is right in the church. And, as I argued at ministers of flame, we have been our own worst enema. Where did the idea of retirement come in? I know that it has it origin in Timothy, but was that really the plan, that we would have annuities administered by some outside agency providing for the honoring of our Elders, especially those who have ministered in teaching and the word? Someone might think me a freak but I think that the welfare of the membership is a local business and somewhere along the line we went global.

We should definitely raise our own up. Seminaries are a fine place to send the punks to get some good book laernin as Cent would say, but the relational maturation of the servant of God has to take place within a close relative organization of the local church. We should be capable of doing that, after all we all do have the same Spirit, no? And mature congregations, no?

Let me step back. James Dobson came on the scene offering what is nothing more than a Christianized version of Social Services. Parenting became something that no longer could be transferred through women teaching women and men teaching men. In fact the whole gamut of family dynamics fell to the “pros.” We seem to no longer be able to do what the local church used to do, be a family.

Step forward to your current post. Commercialization can go bad. What I mean is that, take John MacArthur, or R.C. Sproul, any number of Pastor/Teacher/Authors you want to name. The commercial outlet of a ministry is not inherently bad. But, when we sell it as a product, and not as the produce of fruitful years of study, we make a qualitative shift into the market. We sell our programs, our ideas and ideals. Not that they are bad, they are in Scripture. Once the trading post is openned though, we tend to buy into methods and means outside. The wide way of many diverse kinds of churches is merely a reflection of the commercialization process. The term most often used for this is pragmatism. Profit, i.e. numbers of baptisms, growth, and any number of profit indicators are used to measure success. When the focus becomes not just to produce fruit which sells, but to produce fruit so that it can be sold, eventually what will happen is the fruit begins to take on the flavor of the consumer. I have watched as McDonald’s changed from being a hamburger stand to being a veggie burger, low fat, have a salad with it, green is good like money kinda place, and all I want is a really good hamburger. Are those days gone? Back to basics. Okay. But, as I have said elsewhere, when we start to go back to basics the numbers are going to go down. The thing that is holding so many SBC hearts from returning to their first love is numbers. If they reconstitute the Convention with an aim at restoring regenerate membership, they are likely to lose two thirds of their members.

A woman I know once told me when I ran for public office that Social Security would never come to an end because even the people who knew the socialist ideology that gave it birth and that it breeds is evil, they have grown used to getting their checks. Like that thing of having career pastors. Not only do pastors like it, benfits and all, the churches like to have the ability to can the man. What then becomes the church is a cronyism and despotic rule by factions that see the church as a means to profit even if it is not in terms of cashola. Career, fame, a name, good works, ownership, it is all the same. But, what would we think if that was the way we thought of our families….well we would have divorce rates higher than or equal to the society around us.

Oh! We do?

So, God bless the revival, but there is going to be a real conflagration that is not leave much standing when it is all over.


2 johnMark October 30, 2007 at 7:30 am


I appreciate your thoughts and just have to say Amen!


3 jon November 1, 2007 at 10:29 pm

People are quick to criticize what they don’t know. The Pharisees did it in Jesus’ day. Read the book before discussing it. Listen to Hybels preach before criticizing him and Willow. It’s just simple courtesy.

4 johnMark November 2, 2007 at 8:31 am


Not sure if you were replying to me, Thomas or everyone.

First, I wasn’t discussing the book, but the blog about the book. I just quoted directly from the blog. Are you saying that our words aren’t important and that “seeker-obsessed” is a good biblical position? Is “self-feeding” also a biblical position? I actually do want to read the book.

How much of Hybels’ preaching should I listen to or read? He’s all ready admitted that his methods weren’t “working” so to speak. I don’t believe anyone said that Hybels’ preaching is just terrible and heretical, etc. we’re just waiting for him to change his focus and programs.

The Pharisees didn’t believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.



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