I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the Reveal study from this angle…but it turns out 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 second observation was stunning by comparison. Hybels observed that while he had long believed the biggest chasm to be crossed was moving from Exploring to Growing in Christ, he had come to believe that the chasm between Close to Christ and Christ Centered was actually the toughest to cross.
See it? It’s the challenging gap between the belief that God wants to bless me in my endeavors and the willingness to set aside my own interests to join God in what He’s doing in the world. It’s the difference between a consumer and a contributor.
Where’s the Crowd-to-Core Wrinkle?
Here’s what I noticed. It’s in the question, “Where will my efforts make the biggest difference? Will I have more impact by focusing on helping attendees move from Close to Christ to Christ Centered? Or, will I have a greater impact by focusing on the Growing in Christ stage, helping them become Close to Christ?
Admittedly, there needs to be effort at every transition. But…when it comes to emphasis…where should it be?
I know where it is for me. Do you?