Yesterday a friend sent me an article entitled, “Willow Creek Repents? Why the most influential church in America now says “We made a mistake.” (Go here to get a synopsis of the Willow Creek’s research or go here to see Bill Hybels’ reaction to the research, “The wakeup call of my adult life.”).
I found the article quite interesting. I kept saying to myself, “Of course law-driven principles don’t produce Christlikeness (cf., Romans 7:7-24)!” Regrettably, Hybels still doesn’t get it. His solution is simply to replace one type of legalism with another. Consider Hybel’s response:
“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.”
No. The answer is not to tell people to become “self feeders.” The answer does not lie in personal spiritual disciplines (as important as they are). The answer does not lie in duty, regardless of how aggressive one may be. The answer to a law-driven church is to become a gospel-driven church! The answer is to understand that the gospel is as much for believers as unbelievers.
Evangelical churches need to be telling people and teaching people the gospel and how all of its multifaceted truths connect to every area of life! What Evangelicalism desperately needs today are gospel-saturated and thus gospel-driven churches and pastors who are committed to declaring the gospel in all of its fullness and glory!
The answer to a law-driven church is to become a gospel-driven church!
The article conludes with Greg Hawkins, the Executive Pastor stating,
“Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet.”
Yes. This is my dream as well (i.e., to see all Evangelical churches fundamentally change the way they do church, to become gospel-saturated and gospel-driven)! One of the great problems of the Evangelical church today is its ignorance of the gospel.
The Evangelical church is in large measure ignorant of the gospel, ignorant of the law and ignorant of Christ and His righteousness. Such ignorance is one major cause of the legal temper which characterizes the ethos of American Evangelicalism.
Ignorance of Christ and His gospel leads man to establish legal methods and legal righteousness. “For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness,” (Rom. 10:3).
The Evangelical church is in large measure ignorant of the gospel, ignorant of the law and ignorant of Christ and His righteousness.
Ignorance of the law and of the gospel results in ignorance of gospel-methods and gospel-means. Self-will religion has become the trademark of Evangelicalism. Evangelical churches do not need innovation, they need Reformation!
For me, “The wakeup call of my adult life,” was to have had my eyes graciously opened to Christ and His gospel. This has fundamentally changed the way I understand the entire Christian faith and life! May the Lord grant an ever increasing number of believers to get the wake up call of their life as well!