Blogging about REVEAL and Willow Creek

Chris Salzman

In a way, this is slightly ironic given this post by Andy a few weeks ago.

Over the past few months there has been quite a bit of conjecture floating about the internet about REVEAL and Willow Creek. Basically, the report found that not everything Willow Creek was doing was as effective as they thought it was. They admitted their shortcomings and quotations were taken out of context, and some people said, "I knew it, they were wrong about everything!"

Zach over at Take your Vitamin Z became privy to a letter written by Steve Bell, an Executive Vice President of the Willow Creek Association. And if you're at all interested in making straight what is fast becoming a miasma of misinformation you need to read this letter.

If all you're going to read is this post, check out these quotations:
"Hybels goes on to say ‘If you simply want a crowd, the “seeker sensitive” model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, it’s a bust.'" Bill Hybels did not say this. Focus on the Family is printing a retraction.
Concerning the participating churches:
REVEAL’s findings are based on thirty churches besides Willow, chosen specifically to reflect a diversity of church models. We’ve surveyed traditional Sunday school model churches, missions-focused churches, mainline denominations, African-American churches and churches representing a wide range of geographies, sizes and styles. In all thirty churches, we’ve found the six segments of REVEAL’s spiritual continuum, including the Stalled and Dissatisfied segments.

REVEAL is currently surveying five hundred churches, including more than a dozen denominations and English-speaking international churches. Early results from the first 200 demonstrate REVEAL’s segments exist across multiple church model/style/size alternatives.

40% of these 500 churches do not describe themselves as “seeker-focused” or “seeker-friendly”.


The controversy is: REVEAL discovered a Dissatisfied segment that fell out of the two most spiritually advanced segments noted above. They are sold-out Christ followers, but are disappointed in their church. The Dissatisfied segment averaged 9% over the thirty churches, ranging from 3% to 14%. The bloggers and media point to this Dissatisfied group as proof that the “seeker” movement does not grow up disciples of Christ. The fact is this Dissatisfied group exists in every church we’ve surveyed, including the 200 churches currently in process.
The key for me in all of this is that although the data started with Willow Creek, it is being corroborated among many many different churches. I love it when churches are transparent about their ministries, and I can only see good things coming out of this.

Has anyone actually read the REVEAL report and care to comment? Anyone go to a church that's participating in the larger 500 church REVEAL report? Do you think anything will come of all this data gathering?

Here's another response to Christianity Today from Greg Hawkins for your perusal: Response

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