A while ago, I read Move: What 1,000 Churches Reveal About Spiritual Growth, by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson. Greg is the executive pastor at Willow Creek Community Church. Cally is Willow’s director of communication services. The book is based on their research of over 1,000 churches. It takes a hard look at spiritual formation in our churches with a focus on best-practice ministries.
This book is by far the book that has most challenged my thinking regarding spiritual formation in the church. My Kindle version has highlights throughout. This morning, I went through all those highlights and tried to narrow them down to the 12 that I found most challenging to current church practices. Unfortunately, these statements only provide a snippet of the findings and best practices outlined in the book.
12 Reasons Your Church Doesn’t Produce Spiritual Growth
1. You focus more on Bible teaching than Bible engagement.
“We learned that the most effective strategy for moving people forward in their journey of faith is biblical engagement. Not just getting people into the Bible when they’re in church—which we do quite well—but helping them engage the Bible on their own outside of church.”
2. You haven’t developed a pathway of focused first steps.
“Instead of offering up a wide-ranging menu of ministry opportunities to newcomers, best-practice churches promote and provide a high-impact, non-negotiable pathway of focused first steps—a pathway designed specifically to jumpstart a spiritual experience that gets people moving toward a Christ-centered life.”
3. You’re more concerned about activity than growth.
“Increased church activity does not lead to spiritual growth.”
4. You haven’t clarified the church’s role.
“Because—whether inadvertently or intentionally—these churches have communicated to their people that, no matter where they are on their spiritual journey, the role of the church is to be their central source of spiritual expertise and experience. As a result, even as people mature in their beliefs and embrace personal spiritual practices as part of their daily routines, their expectation is that it will be the church, not their own initiative, that will feed their spiritual hunger.”