Thursday, October 26, 2006

A2 Session Five: Gene Appel

Topic: Can Willow Change? Gene Appel is the lead pastor at the Willow Creek main campus. Prior to this conference, this was probably the session I was most interested in because Willow is going through a lot of changes... "There ought to be something in every church service that you don't like, but you ought to be mature enough to know that if it's reaching somebody else, you can be okay with it" Willow is 31 years old and they are transitioning and changes perhaps more than they ever have in their history. My respect for Gene just went up -- he's making fun of the fact that he sounds like Barney Fife! (self-depreciation is so attractive to me!) the chapter 2 vision (c. 2000) (locally, expanding more seats at the South Barrington campus because it was overflowing; regionally, expanding regional campuses; globally, training church leaders because when you can change a pastor, you can change a church and when you change a church, you ) Critical Factors in Willow's Thinking Right Now:
  1. willow is aging (avg. age is 48, was 38 ten years ago; avg. age of New Community is 51)
  2. demographics are changing (increasing ethnicity in the community -- 110,000 Asians in the community)
  3. seekers are changing
  4. people are BUSY
  5. waning # of 'Creekers' who know their neighbors
  6. deepening compassion value
  7. 2004 spiritual growth survey that showed that as spiritual activity increased, love for God & people did not increase. It also showed that the most committed, biggest givers, most spiritually mature people were the people that were closest to leaving.
  8. leaders spread too wide with margins too thin

Latest Thinking/Direction Willow is Leaning Toward (wet cement)

  • weekend experiences where all people encounter the transforming power of God, wherever they are on the spiritual journey (not service, experience) (all people = ethnic diversity -- we want each campus to reflect the demographics of their 20 minute footprint. it also means age diversity -- hence the death of Axis) (they are challenging people to open Bibles because they want to reach not just seekers, but believers as well, at the same time) Is this working? attendance is up at all sites and baptisms are up
  • launching a neighborhood life ministry where people belong, live & serve (what is we put most of the "church activities" within a bike ride of people's homes -- serving, small group, evangelism, etc.) "We're moving from an affinity based organization...and we're taking it to a geographic base
  • developing a compassionate serving model intergrated with neighborhood life
  • reframing spiritual growth from an activity based approach to a spiritual journey approach
  • rebuilt organization structure -- the key is Gene & Bill's relationship that they've poured immense energy into defining (responsibility, authority, leading, etc.). Things are CLEAR between who's leading whom and when. I admire this so much about Willow -- they take the time, have the candid conversations about talk about a lot of "what ifs" before moving into new organizational structures. Gene knows that "Bill is for me," and that when Gene wins, Willow wins.

1 comment:

mitchell said...

Noel is crying, so I'm not getting any sleep - which leaves me plenty of time to run through your posts.

I read this

launching a neighborhood life ministry where people belong, live & serve (what is we put most of the "church activities" within a bike ride of people's homes -- serving, small group, evangelism, etc.) "We're moving from an affinity based organization...and we're taking it to a geographic base


and it really hit home with me.