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The Reveal Study and Transformation

Posted on May 30th, 2009

I just finished reading the Reveal study that was released by the WCA in August 2007.  I was personally challenged by their courage to ask the question in a brutally honest fashion about whether we are really transforming lives in the church. Few of us as pastors and leaders have that kind of guts to actually look at the hard data. We owe Willow Creek a debt of gratitude for modeling characterand good leadership for us. Some of their insights very helpful. For example, the study revealed that increased involvement in church activities does not equal increased love or maturity in God. The connection between church activity and spiritual growth appears to be limited. 25% of people in our churches are stalled. People (80,000  surveyed) showed their top 3 needs were to understand the Bible in depth, get help for their emotional needs and help developing relationships that encourage accountability (from p. 38 Follow Me). There is a lot of rich information to mine in their two books on their research (which they are continuing). They conclude by recognizing the need to become more radical in equipping believers to live Christ-centered lives. The following are a couple of other thoughts to add to this dialogue: 1. The problem of North American Christianity is much deeper and vaster that we realize. Teaching the Bible and coaching/equipping our people more intentionally is a good first commitment, but will not be enough – long-term. 2. The solution is much more far-reaching than we realize, first in the leadership and then in the wider church. Genuine transformation has always been a  crucifixion (John 12:24). It is something we avoid at all costs. Our paradigms for discipleship and personal lives will experience  an upheaval if our churches are to experience deep change.   If you are like me, then you will probably only go there when there is no where else to go.  I suspect Reveal will help us  get there more quickly as they relentlessly pursue data to measure whether genuine transformation is really happening. 3. This answer will probably need to include additional components such as: discipleship around marriages and sexuality, emotionally healthy skills, drinking deeply from the contemplative/monastic stream, a deep repentance regarding idols in the church (e.g. the numbers emphasis, drivenness), reformatting how we train pastors and leaders by looking to the church fathers who were biblical thinkers and theologians, people of deep prayer living monastic rhythms, and pastors of local churches (e.g. Origin, Augustine, Clement, Jerome), and learning to love our enemies. I could say much more but that is enough for now. What do you think we will need for genuine spiritual transformation to come into our churches? The contribution of Reveal?

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