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More on Willow Creek's Reveal

Christianity Today has some more thoughts on Willow Creek's Reveal, an ongoing project on how we do church relates to personal spiritual growth. (You can see this blog's thoughts on the project here and here). The CT editorial zeroes in on the way the study presents the concept of "church" (something this blog is very interested in) and suggests that the Willow Creek perspective presents "a disturbingly low view" of it. It's worth the read.

But nestled in the editorial was something that caught my attention in regards to spiritual disciplines (something this blog's been thinking about lately):
The study rightly says, "Our people need to learn to feed themselves through personal spiritual practices." Unfortunately, the study fails to hint that these spiritual disciplines are intrinsically grounded in the ongoing life of the church. This implicit dualism (between private and corporate spiritual growth) suggests something different from Paul's view that it is in the body of Christ that we are joined together to "grow up into him who is the Head" (Eph. 4:15).
While I appreciate CT's expanding the disciplines from personal to cooperate (and Willow Creek's inclusion of them to begin with), I must admit that I'm a bit bothered by the use (and acceptance) of the term "feed themselves" in relation to the spiritual disciplines. The disciplines aren't about being fed, but about doing what is within our power to open or place ourselves before God, who in his grace begins to transform us into the people were created to be, exuding Christ-likeness. This idea that we approach them in order to be fed turns the focus from God to ourselves. Not that we aren't "fed" by God--we are; he is our very Life. But to make "being fed" our focus seems one more way we turn "church" and faith into a form of consumerism rather than a relationship with God.

My .02 worth, anyway.


Amen, amen.

You mentioned consumerism in the way people approach church. There is a similar attitude, I think, in the way people approach prayer: God is a deified vending machine, and if we say the proper words in the proper order, we can get whatever we want.

But when the answer is not what we expect, or He says no, then we complain that He doesn't love us, that He's weak, or that He must not exist. In essence, we're saying that He's beyond our control.

And, ironically enough, that is precisely where He must be in order to be God. He can't be conjured like a djinn from a magic lamp, or like a spell from a book; however, He can be approached, asked, thanked, befriended. He can draw near, and invites us to do the same.