A little wisdom from Willow Creek...

Willow Creek Church in Barrington, Illinois has a reputation in the evangelical Christian world as the center, perhaps even the originator of "seeker friendly" churches, the kind of parishes you see springing up all over the country with subdued architecture and casually clothed pastors leading low key, pop music powered, worship.

According to this article from TownHall.com Willow Creek has done an internal audit of its life and programs and found that while its practices have attracted large numbers they have not created disciples of Jesus Christ to the depth they had hoped. Lots of people have come but large numbers have remained spiritually immature and unable to grow in their faith to a level where they could become as the report says "self-feeders", people who could take responsibility for practicing their faith.

Lest, however, we Orthodox become too critical with our "I told you so's..." and perverse pride in being small it should be noted that while we have it right that the development of true disciples of Jesus Christ with a deep and living faith is a priority we have failed to do that ourselves AND neglected the basic kind of open door hospitality that marks the "seeker" churches. Large numbers of Orthodox Christians are basically uneducated about their faith AND our parishes often have the feeling of ethnic clubs or insular communities where people have to jump through any number of hoops before they're welcomed.

In the end it's all about balance, being in that place where we are firmly established in our faith and a place of welcome for the throngs, and yes they are there, of people seeking spiritual solace in the materialistic desert of American life.

No comments: