Sunday, July 6, 2008

Willow Creek Apology

Dr. Couch, what more do you know about the Willow Creek apology? 
    Only what I read, such as a news release for December ’07 in World. But as I commented before, the thing that pushes my button is that we who are textual and believe in biblical exegesis from the pulpit were disturbed a long time ago by what we were seeing in the "Church Growth Movement" (which means the evolution of the church), and with the "Seeker Friendly Movement" that argues for almost total accommodation to whatever people want. But we were like voices in the wilderness! The "old guys" didn’t know what they were talking about! I heard of one big mega-church that has for a food court, a MacDonald’s! Also, weight rooms, squash and tennis courts, etc. Such a church has become a social and a recreation center. Such amenities have nothing to do with the proclamation of God’s Word and the proclamation of the gospel! 

    (Those who are reading the above, if you do not see a problem, you are already over the hill into modernity and there is little hope for you! You have been culturally brainwashed!)

    In an apology (I guess to the Lord), Bill Hybels of Willow Creek said:
We made a mistake. When people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become "self feeders." We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.
    While this "apology" is great, there is more he should have said, like, there should be teaching, biblical exegesis, so that the congregation can rightly understand the Word of God.

    Michael Horton doubts that Willow Creek or other churches who have become "mega-churches" can change, or they will empty the pews as the attendees go on to other entertaining congregations. He believes it will be "more of the same." Some big church fans argue that the problem is simply how to find a better way to use modern technologies. But Horton rightly argues, trying to make technologies more efficient "doesn’t solve the fundamental problem."

    Horton adds, "People are not consumers who need to be satisfied. They’re sinners who need to be justified. Preaching is not a technology. It is a means of grace." Horton concluded: "The state of the church in America today is poor, and it’s a condition that you can’t blame on Willow Creek alone. It’s increasingly difficult to swim against the tide of materialism, consumerism, and narcissism in the culture."

    At one of the "big" seminaries in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, one of the faculty went up to Willow Creek (Mecca) and came back glowing with praises for all the twists and turns, and the hype. He indoctrinated the younger students who then went on a crusade in their churches. The "oldie" stuff (Bible exegesis—verse by verse) was out and the "newie" stuff (Hollywood entertainment) was in. The tried and true was buried!

    The apostle Peter makes it clear that personal spiritual growth only comes by the presentation of the Word of God. He wrote, "Like newborn babes, you should be longing for the pure milk of the Word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation" (1 Pet. 2:2). Notice, a spiritual thirst must be cultivated to "want to know" God’s Word! If that is not there, people will settle for, and substitute exegesis for: hot-rock music, hands in the air, going into trances and swaying back and forth, skits, plays, and dramas - anything to take the place of the explanation of Scripture! 

Thanks for asking.

Dr. Mal Couch