Friday, February 08, 2008

REVEAL: Willow Creek Survey 2007

Finally my copy which I have to order directly from Willow Creek Resources, Barington, USA arrived just before Chinese New Year.

I have blog ealier about Bill Hybels' response

Gary Hawkins, Cally Parkinson and Eric Arnson (2007) Reveal: Where Are You? Barrington, IL: Willow Creek Resources

Qualitative-2004 & December 2006 (one to one interviews) and Quantitative – 2004 & January- February 2007 (questionnaires).

Approach: Consumer marketing strategy research analysis.

Analysis: 3 years of research and analysis based on 2.6. million data points from eleven thousands completed surveys from Willow Creek and six other churches (diverse in size and location; larger churches in Florida and California, suburban church in Illinois, Ohio and Texas, smaller African-American church in Michigan. Include denominational, seeker-targeted and independent/Bible churches).

Research Hypothesis
(1) There is a migration path for spiritual growth based on church activities
(2) The most effective evangelism tool is a spiritual conversation
(3) Spiritual relationships are a key driver of spiritual growth

(1) Involvement in church activities does not predict or drive long term spiritual growth. But there is a “spiritual continuum” that is very predictive and powerful.

• “We arrived at the conclusion that church activities alone do not drive spiritual growth…” (p.33)

• Measurements of spiritual behaviours (tithing, evangelism, serving etc) and spiritual attitudes (as response to these three questions: “I love God more than anything’; ‘I seek God’s guidance for every area of my life’; ‘I have tremendous love for people I know and those I don’t know.’)

• The spiritual continuum that emerged from the research is a predictive description of staging how people grow spiritually.

• Exploring ChristianityGrowing in Christ  Close to Christ  Christ-Centered

(2) Spiritual growth is all about increasing relational closeness to Christ

(3) The church is most important in the early stages of spiritual growth. Its role then shifts from being the primary influence to a secondary influence

(4) Personal spiritual practices are the building blocks for a Christ-centered life

• In the early stages of one spiritual life, the church is importance. As one matures, personal spiritual practices such s prayer, journaling, solitude, studying Scriptures become more important (p.43)
• “Our conclusion based on the data is this: The church doesn’t need to handhold people who are moving along in the later stages of the spiritual continuum.” (p.45)

(5) A church’s most active evangelists, volunteers and donors come from the most spiritually advanced segments

• “This came as a surprise to us. At Willow, we had long operated under the assumption that evangelism fervor is at its highest early on in a person’s faith journey.” (p.45)

(6) More than 25 percent of those surveyed describe themselves as spiritually “stalled” or “dissatisfied” with the role of the church in their spiritual growth

• “The stalled segment seems to include people at the beginning of the faith journey who have run into difficult life circumstances or have come to face-to-face with a personal weakness that is incompatible with following Christ.” (p.49)
• They report “significant barriers to spiritual growth”: addictions (27%), inappropriate relationship (16%), emotional issues (48%) and not prioritizing one’s spiritual life (89%).
• The “dissatisfied” segment are committed followers of Christ; regularly attend weekend services (96%), participate in small groups (55%), volunteer at church (61%), serve those in need (25%), tithe (31%) and are diligent in their personal efforts to grow their faith through Bible study (39%) and prayer (59%).
• They are committed followers but are highly likely to leave their church and may make up of 10% of your congregation!
• In the survey, the two statements rated lowest by this segment is ‘The church keeps me on track as I try to lead a Christian life.’ (7%) and ‘The church helps me to find a spiritual mentor’ (4%).
• “Although the Dissatisfied segment appears totally aligned with the attitudes and behaviours related to a Christ-centered life, they still want the church to help “keep them on track,” to hold them accountable and keep them challenged.” (p.53)

Willow Creek Repents? Why the most influential church in America now says "We made a mistake." (Christianity Today)
Bradley Wright's 11 part comments (Bradley Wright)
Read This Before You Jump on the Willowcreek “Reveal Study” Band Wagon! (Pro or Con!) (Chris Forbes)
Williow Creek Reveal (Ken Bussel)
Willow Reveal Study(Scott McKnight)
What REVEAL reveals (Christianity Today editorial 2/27/2008)

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Blogger Blogpastor said...

Thanks, doctor, for reporting on the dissection of this megabody and showing the sickness within. I solemnly hope their solutions will place more emphasis on the community than the individual; and more relational and less programmatic(sounds like problematic); with more respect for the slow work of God than cosmetic results.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Kar Yong said...

Thanks, Alex, for sharing the insights from the Survey. I have been wondering for sometime whether I should get hold of the book or not; or whether it is worth paying for the book and the rather high shipping cost. By reading your analysis, I think it's worth getting it.

Echoing blogpastor, I hope this is something that our churches in Malaysia can learn, particularly those who aspire to be "mega".

12:03 AM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi Kar Yong and blogpastor, I am still processing the information from the survey. Though the book REVEAL did not give the raw data, it does give enough information to make me excited about understanding spiritual growth in a church.

12:25 AM  

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