Willow Creek Pick-Up
March 10, 2014 50 Comments
Christian congregations across the Western world have been losing congregants for decades, if not longer. To combat this problem, in 1992 Bill Hybels started Willow Creek, and that church became a movement and a system, called “Willow Creek”.
Basically, it was a huge re-branding service that sold the idea that the problem with church was that it was seen as “churchy”. It is characterized by things such as describing itself as “seeker-friendly”; meaning non-confrontational, and throwing out the window repentant, discerning, yoke-ing bits of the Gospel. Things like: “You’re a sinner, and you’re in danger of Hell.”, “Becoming someone new means to stop being the old you, and that means behaving differently.” No more “First Baptist of Nowheresville”. Instead the Willow Creek system would recommend something like, “The Center of Overcoming Faith”; an unfortunate yet fitting descriptor.
What was defenestrated were several of the pillars of Christianity, and in its place was brought in marketing and psychology. People were no longer sinners, they were potential consumers of Christianity. The goal of the church was shifted away from boring old repentance and discipline, and towards convincing them that Christianity was pleasant, helpful, harmless, and comfortable; that it would improve your life both in quality and quantity. People in sales and marketing like to call those who buy many and varied things “discerning”; a fact that is belied by their multiplicity and variance. It was the Gospel stripped of all nutrients, coated in sugar, and believers as consumers.
Think of this method as the applied psychology of churching. Churches being Christians institutions, you could call this disaster for American Christianity: Christian Game.