'MOVE' is the latest research Willow Creek have released, with the subtitle 'What 1000 Churches reveal about Spiritual Growth. As this suggests it's a focus upon what they're learning about 'disciple-making' churches, I shall be very interested to read the results i full. I'll be approaching it with my usual 'this is the USA we're talking about here, not the UK, kind of hesitations, but I'm sure there will be lessons for us to learn and no doubt things we need to hear over here. Here's the summary of the top four 'practices' (I'm already interested now they're using that word!)
Practice 1: They get people moving.
Instead of offering up a wide-ranging menu of ministry opportunities to newcomers, best-practice churches promote and provide a high-impact, nonnegotiable pathway of focused first steps — a pathway designed specifically to jumpstart a spiritual experience that gets people moving toward a Christ-centered life.
Practice 2: They embed the Bible in everything.
At best-practice churches, the Bible goes well beyond its role as the foundation for teaching and life instruction. These churches breathe Scripture. Every encounter and experience within the church begins with the question, “What does the Bible have to say about that?” And church leaders model living life according to the answers to that question.
Practice 3: They create ownership.
Best-practice congregants don’t just belong to their church; they believe they are the church. They embrace its discipleship values as part of their identity. Best-practice churches inspire and hold people accountable for changing their behavior — for becoming more Christlike in their everyday lives as a reflection of their faith.
Practice 4: They pastor their local community.
Best-practice churches don’t simply serve their community. They act as its shepherd, becoming deeply involved in community issues and frequently serving in influential positions with local civic organizations. They often partner with nonprofits and other churches to secure whatever resources are necessary to address the most pressing local concerns.
In addition to these four practices, we identified one overarching leadership principle that emerged in our interaction with the senior pastors of these top-5 percent churches. These churches are led by individuals consumed with making disciples. Absolutely consumed. Making disciples of Christ was unquestionably their most important aspiration and the deepest desire of their hearts. And that characteristic fueled all four of the practices.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had those nagging doubts that I had: Do I really know what’s going on in the hearts and souls of my people? Is all this activity and programming moving them closer to God, or are we all just spinning our wheels? The REVEAL survey told us the truth about how our people experienced church, and some of what they told us wasn’t pretty. But it also showed us how to do a better job of helping people grow spiritually, which, after all, is why all of us — you and me — do what we do.