Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Our hot-selling Seeker Sensitive model not that effective, after all – Bill Hybell

Last edition, while we rejoiced at leaders (referring particularly to Wheaton College and Cedarville University) realizing their faults and backing out of unprofitable alliances, we lamented that others might have already been unduly and irreversibly influenced wrongly. Meaning that all must be careful in learning from leaders. The Paul test in 1 Cor. 11:1 would be particularly useful. Below is another turn-around of some sort by another influential leader.
The Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago is the leading expounder of the so-called “seeker sensitive movement” which defines new paradigms guaranteed to bring explosive church growth, over the traditional method of growing a church via sound biblical discipleship and grooming in the Word. For well over a decade, the words of Bill Hybell were received as the gospel truth as far as church growth is concerned. However, in a new book which reports on the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of this program and philosophy of ministry, Willow Creek has admitted to making a big mistake in their paradigm. In the words of Hybell:
“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.”
Commenting on this development, Bob Burney of CrossWalk was blunt when he writes: “The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples.” According to Burney, this means in summary: “If you simply want a crowd, the ‘seeker sensitive’ model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust.”
(www.crosswalk.com/news/commentary/11558438/page2/ )
Clearly, even if only from their efforts to carry out the study and their honesty for boldly reporting it, it must be concluded that Willow Creek has been promoting their paradigm with the best of intentions and clear conscience. But the question again comes up, how do the thousands of ministries who have been led astray by all these seeker-sensitive methods now undo decades of following a faulty model – one that treats sound Biblical doctrine as out-dated? How many of them would even hear of this latter developments! For another commentary on the report from Willow Creek, see www.crosswalk.com/root/11560219/page0/.

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