Monday, January 14, 2008

A Little More REVEALing

I've been reading some other blogs as they discuss Willow Creek's Reveal. You can read my earlier article if you want to catch up. I want to make sure this doesn't come across as some small church pastor complaining about the big church. When I saw the Reveal video clips I was intrigued. They are wanting to measure spiritual growth.

When I worked in the local school system it was very clear that you tested/evaluated the things that were the most important. If you knew the State Board of Education was going to hold you accountable for writing a certain way, then you spent considerable time on learning and quizzing and testing on how to write that way.

If we want to see improvement in the area of spiritual growth, then it makes sense to evaluate and hold people accountable in this area. I felt that the REVEAL study was working towards this goal. We are even considering conducting a spiritual life survey in our own church for a couple of reasons:

1. We want people to think about their relationship with Christ. We want them to take a heartfelt look at their life and see if it measures up to what God would want it to be.

2. We (the leaders of the church) want to know where people in our church perceive they are in their journey with the Lord. Are people hungry and thirsty for righteousness, or are they just going through the motions?

Because we think there is value in these things, and because Willow Creek has some incredible resources at their disposal, we are following they transformation they are hoping to accomplish. While trying to get a grasp on some of these ideas, I ran over a couple of other blogs dealing with similar issues.

Today I ran across an article discussing Reveal more from the sociological standpoint.
Technically, REVEAL used a cross-sectional survey with no comparison group and no randomization. This means they surveyed people once during a given period of time—it's like taking a snapshot of a group of people. It’s the tongue depressor of survey methodology—a good place to start, but not a very powerful tool. While this type of survey does a good job in describing peoples’ characteristics, it doesn’t explain them. It describes “what” but doesn’t explain “why.” Findings from this type of survey are open to multiple interpretations, and the data themselves can’t distinguish the correct one.

Over at 9Marks at the Church Matters Blog, Jonathon Leeman has been during a series on REVEAL and he has some good insights. I would recommend it to anyone who is following the whole REVEAL discussion. Here's a quote:
It’s simply Willow’s way of going about this that I question. Somewhere there is a line between the person, politician, or pastor who leads by taking polls and the person, politician, or pastor who leads by principle yet knows how to ask for feedback. Somewhere there’s a line between being a Jew to the Jew or Gentile to the Gentile and letting the Jew or Gentile tell you how to be the church. Where’s that line? I’m not sure, but will viewing attitudes, emotions, and motivations in precisely the same fashion that Starbucks, Nike, and Fisher Price view them help us to find it? Will adopting the supply/demand mindset of the market help us to find it?

This discussion brings me back to the discussion "is the church an organization or organism." How much effort does the local church put into becoming an efficient and excellent organization/business. And how much effort does the church focus on preaching, praying and leading by principle. Where is the balance?

All comments welcome.

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