I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the Reveal study from this angle…but it turns out that there’s a significant crowd-to-core wrinkle. I don’t know how many times I’d looked at it before I saw it, but once I noticed it…it’s very hard to miss. Here’s what I saw:
As you probably know, Willow Creek’s Reveal study identifies four distinct stages within congregations. Exploring, Growing in Christ, Close to Christ, and Christ-Centered.
The first two are fairly straightforward. Exploring is the category for those attendees who haven’t yet crossed the line of faith.
Growing in Christ is the category for those attendees who have crossed the line of faith and are growing but not yet mature (both of these first two are oversimplifications, but you get the idea).
I heard Bill Hybels make two interesting observations some time ago about the third and fourth stages.
First, he defined them essentially like this.
When someone reaches the Close to Christ stage, they know God loves them, they know He’s for them, and they believe God wants to bless their endeavors.
In describing Christ Centered, he said that there is one difference. They know God loves them. They know He’s for them. But they believe God wants them to join Him in what He wants to do in the world.
Fascinating. It’s the difference between a consumer and a contributor. See it?
"The word 'sovereign' is not a biblical word; it is a theological word."