Unit 5.2 The Seven Step Philosophy is Willow Creek’s original discipleship system, and the discipleship system is the engine that drives the growth in worship attendance.

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There is much to learn about Willow Creek in these two paragraphs; each of my comments below is linked to a phrase identified by a number in parentheses above – example: (1).

First, Willow Creek=s Acontemporary packaging@ of the message as contemporary worship is immediately obvious to casual observers. You can=t miss the auditorium architecture, theater seats, the plexiglass pulpit and the absence of traditional symbols. The belief that Willow Creek=s growth is due to seeker worship services is a universal misunderstanding; institutional pastors who merely copy Willow Creek=s innovations in the worship Awing@ of the church find that it just doesn=t work in their setting or they set themselves up by drawing in vast numbers of AEddies@ or contemporary consumer Christians. (It always amuses me to see a plexiglass pulpit in a church; to me it is the sure sign of someone who does not understand.) The seven step philosophy is Willow Creek’s original discipleship system, and the discipleship system is the engine that drives the growth in worship attendance.

Second, institutional Christians want to find something in the beliefs or theology of Willow Creek that is different. If you can prove them heretic, you can justify ignoring their results. Hybels is correct in his statement that their theology is entirely orthodox; the theology is the same. There is one significant difference, however, in the theology that is preached in both kinds of churches.  At Willow Creek, members are expected to live by their beliefs, obey the Lord Jesus Christ, read their Bibles, learn and grow in faith, serve the Lord and fulfill the Great Commission by the means of each member seeking the lost. In short, they intend to practice what they preach; there is nothing new about this theology except the widespread expectation that they are actually expected to act accordingly.If you ignore this obedience, it is easy to claim that Willow Creek attempts to attract the shallow and uncommitted and leave them in that state; if you ignore the discipleship system, that is all you can see. Jesus said, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy@ (Luke 12:1). The first priority of the cell church is that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus is to be obeyed; this leads to prayer and to goals; obedience leads directly to subordinating all the activity of the church to the purpose of obeying the Great Commission, which is the second priority. This obedience is not optional; hypocrisy is not an option. The internal intolerance of Christian hypocrisy is a primary characteristic of all church growth movements. (Consider the fate of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.)

NOTE (my response)

DISCERNMENT QUESTIONS

RESOURCES

Footnotes:
The quote is from Major League Disciple Making: An Overview of the Best Research on the Cell Church, an online course developed for the Institute for Discipleship at www.BeADisciple.com in 2009. Course materials, including these lectures, can be downloaded here: http://www.disciplewalk.com/IFD_MLD_Class_Links.html

All Scripture quotations are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1946, 1952, and 1971 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Please review the page How and Why We Use Quotes.

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