Friday, August 13, 2010

John Ortberg on Spiritual Formation

Photo Credit: Garrett Crawford
From John Ortberg:
"When I started working at Willow Creek some years ago a staff member I will call Pastor X (not his real name. His real name was pastor Y) thought churches had to choose between evangelistic effectiveness and spiritual depth.

In a question that used to come up periodically from outsiders when I worked there, somebody asked me recently if I thought Willow was a place that sacrificed spiritual depth in order to reach seekers.

The quick answer is no. Actually, that would be the slow answer, too.

I thought the response to the Reveal study was very interesting. I think the core finding was that, at a certain point, increased activity in church programs does not predict increased spiritual maturity. A number of folks who tend to be critical of Willow interpreted that as a failure of Willow Creek, or Willow-style churches, or seeker-oriented ministries.

That’s a total mis-read of the data. EVERY church faces that problem. Even if a church offers nothing but Bible studies 24/7 in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic taught personally by N.T. Wright, they will still face this problem. Willow was simply naming the big kahuna challenge we all grapple with. To be transformed; to have Christ formed in you, is quite different from being church-ier, or more traditional, or better informed. Of course, churches vary enormously in our effectiveness at it. But it’s not about contemporary versus traditional versus emerging."

1 comment:

Stephanie N. said...

Scott, I really love this. I'm someone who personally prefers a more traditional, "up front" philosophy of ministry (most likely b/c that is what worked for me!)But I also love supporting friends who take entirely different approaches. I see how different people respond to different approaches. All are needed. And Ortberg is right in saying that we all struggle in solving the same problem (affecting real life-change), even if it comes at different points in a constituent's life. Thanks for posting!