Unit 5.5 Here are the seven steps as Willow Creek describes them

QUOTE

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Here are the seven steps as Willow Creek describes them in their new member manual, the AParticipating Membership Manual;@ a copy is present in the workshop materials folder of the course. (My comments are in italics within parentheses.)

1. Build a Relationship

THE FIRST STEP IS TO REACH out to AUnchurched Harry and Mary@ personally. Rather than beginning with the message of Christ, we seek to make connections so that when we do share the message, we have credibility. People are more inclined to consider a radical message from a trusted friend than from a stranger. The love and interest we show cultivates the ground in preparation for sowing the seeds of the Gospel. (Discipleship systems are primarily relational.)

2. Share a Verbal Witness

A WITNESS IN A COURTROOM simply describes accurately what he or she saw. That=s what we do when we witness to unchurched friends. We describe the life we knew, the Savior who came to us, and the changes He=s made. It is not enough just to be Anice people@Cunbelievers must hear why we are the way we are, who can save them, and how. (Discipleship systems are about uninhibited conversations where we are able to be honest about our spirituality without dominating communications.)

3. Invite to a Seeker Service

EVERY WEEKEND, we use the services at the church to present some facet of the message of ChristCwhat we call, AChristianity 101.@ Every aspect is coordinated so that the seeker is the primary target audience, not the Aalready convinced.@ The elements work together to communicate a consistent theme, and we try to use a variety of means to get the message across in a compelling and often unexpected way. The combination of the groundwork done by the individual=s verbal witness followed by the impact of a highly relevant, creative presentation brings home the message so that unchurched Harry and Mary consider anew the age‑old truth of Jesus Christ. The seeker services are also designed to

facilitate a process of evangelism; that is, most people are not ready to throw out their world‑and‑life‑ views after a one‑hour church service. Experience shows that people need time to process information. When that process is honored, the commitments made take root better than poorly informed impulse decisions. (The faith community created by attending with someone trusted helps this process.)

4. Become Part of New Community

AT SOME POINT, unchurched Harry and Mary accept Christ as their Forgiver and Leader. When they do, generally the next step is to begin attending the New Community. Through in‑depth Bible teaching they gain a better grasp of God=s Word. The New Community is a service designed for believers, so Harry and MaryCnow ABeliever Bob and Betty@C experience worship through song, prayer, and the sacrament of Communion. (New Community, while still seeker friendly, is the worship of the faithful, and the teaching replaces Sunday school.)

5. Participate in a Small Group

LIFE CHANGE HAPPENS best in the context where you can be known authentically and where you share your spiritual journey with others. A small group is often one of the best places to do that. Four to ten believers gather at least two times a month to share their lives, learn from God=s Word in a discussion format, and serve one another. Groups often also serve the body at large, either by being a

serving group, or through periodic short‑term service. (Willow Creek has tried a variety of small group formats, finally settling on a modified Metachurch model. During their transition to become a church of small groups they reallocated 25% of their budget to support this ministry. )

6. Serve in the Body of Christ

EVERY BELIEVER is given a spiritual gift by the Holy Spirit, and that gift is to be used for the common good. Whether in a small group or on a serving team, every participating member knows he or she is truly part of the church when his or her spiritual gifts are being used to further God=s work in the churchC and beyond. (Gifted-oriented ministry service is a key catalyst in growing through adolescent spiritual stages.)

7. Steward Financial Resources

WHEN GOD BECOMES MASTER of our spending and giving habits, we can be confident He is master over one of the most personal areas of our lives. All our resources are entrusted to us to use for Kingdom purposes as well as for meeting personal needs. The last step in the Seven Step Philosophy is to allow God to have freedom in this area of our lives. That way, what we keep as well as what we give (using the historic benchmark of 10% of our income as a starting reference) honors Him in every respect. (Jesus said in Matthew 6:21:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.)

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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