There are an assortment of churches — megachurches, megachurch wannabes, big churches, small churches, house churches, missional churches, cafe churches, neighborhood churches, village churches. Some change constantly; some are the same as they were when Grandma and Grandpa were baptized there by the pastor whose grandson is now pastor.
Some in the emerging movement toss criticism at all things megachurch; and some megachurch pastors think their church happens to be the first one to have figured out what “church” is supposed to be. Some liturgical churches look down long, traditional hoary noses at small church creativity; and some spontaneous churches haven’t a clue that most Christians have been more liturgical than creative. I could go on … you get my point.
After three years of speaking hither and yon, I’ve come to where I like all churches (or most churches). I like big ones and I like little ones; I like the cafe church and I like the missional churches. I think we ought to get along and participate together in the redemptive work of God in this world.
Which brings me now to my post for today … it’s about a megachurch, Willow Creek, and its superstar pastor, Bill Hybels, and this is not an open invitation for you to take potshots at megachurches, Willow or Bill Hybels. But, I would like you to think with me about his latest “vision.”
Some of you may know that Bill Hybels has not been healthy for a few months, and his sermons carried a little melancholy as he struggled with his health issues. But, this weekend Bill was at his best — back to his vision-casting and motivating and creating vision. Here are the three new elements of Willow’s vision as it moves on. This kind of vision is the kind of thing megachurches do well; and do often.
Essentially Bill lives with this vision from God: “The destiny God has in store is far beyond what even your faith can imagine.” And Willow is reaching now for “multiplied impact.” Here are the three elements of this new vision:
1. Raise your level of risk to reach people far from God.
2. Recoach people on how they grow — so they become “self-feeders” as they mature.
3. Unleash unprecedented amounts of compassion and justice for our neighborhood and world.
I’ve never been at a Willow service when so many people “participated” (saying things, clapping, “Yes”).
Personally, I don’t think the term “self-feeders” is the best of terms and I really don’t think it expresses what Bill was getting at — the need for mature Christians to become more personally responsible for their theological development, and not expecting the church to do it all. Maybe some of you were there and heard what he said and have some thoughts … and some of you weren’t and have thoughts.