Willow Creek Reveal Frenzy


This past week has seen a blogging frenzy* erupt over Reveal, a spiritual growth conversation headed by Bill Hybels and Greg Hawkins of Willow Creek Community Church. These two leaders have each posted videos on the Reveal website admitting that their previous model of doing local church ministry has flaws. Through the Reveal conversation they are seeking to create a new, more effective ministry model. While some have taken a critical attitude, many have pointed out Hybel’s humility.

The blogosphere began to see posts regarding the Willow Creek’s new direction in August when Hawkins’ book Reveal: Where Are You? was announced during The Leadership Summit. A recent influx of posts has been prompted by Christianity Today’s Out of Ur article. To help sort the mass of information Greg Hawkins has offered some clarifying points on the Reveal Blog.

Personally, I’m very excited to see what will come from this conversation. Willow Creek has always been committed to helping other local churches. They are on the right track with Reveal and I believe the results of their research will produce helpful insights that the whole Church can benefit from.

The Videos


Hawkins video is candid and earnest. When he speaks of the distraction a church leader feels on Sunday morning I felt as though he was pulling thoughts from my own mind. Skip the short version and watch the 13 minute one. It’s worth it.


Hybels brought a welcome humor to a serious situation. I laughed out loud several times throughout his presentation.

The Frenzy

*Some of the more content driven posts from this last week include:


21 Responses to “Willow Creek Reveal Frenzy”

  1. 1 Stephen October 26, 2007 at 4:32 pm

    The study is pretty insanely revealing, not only in its bringing into question Willow’s effectiveness in ACTUALLY fostering spiritual development and transformation, but the rest of us as well.

    I don’t know if you’re aware, but the Reveal folks are actually continuing their research by examining 500 churches across the country to explore their effectiveness in doing what they say they aim to do. We’re pretty stoked at our church because we were selected as one of the churches they’ll be looking at.

    In all, I think the study is a sign of maturity and a steadfast commitment to being the Body of Christ. Though they are sometimes criticized, you’ve gotta give it to the Willow people on this one.

  2. 2 Billy Chia October 26, 2007 at 5:10 pm

    Yeah Hawkins mentions the further research at the end of his video and several of the recent blog posts I linked to were from churches selected to be one of the 500. That’s awesome that your church was also selected!

    I’m very interested to see what types of practical steps Willow actually takes as well as what types of actions they’ll recommend to other churches as a result of the research.

  3. 3 Angela October 26, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Billy, I agree with you that many have been critical and synical about Willow Creek’s change of heart (including myself to some degree), but there is a part of me that is excited (like yourself) to see what becomes of this new philosophy! Maybe it will be the touchstone to a change of heart in the American Church? Stay tuned…

    In Christ,

    Angela 🙂

  4. 4 Billy Chia October 26, 2007 at 7:21 pm

    Yeah, I see a revolution going on in the American church (and in the glimpses of what I see of the world church) toward more authentic faith. Reveal smacks of God at work.

  5. 5 Chris October 26, 2007 at 8:33 pm

    Very cool. I had seen a few blog posts about it here and there but didn’t realize that it had exploded like that.

    I saw the videos a few weeks ago and it actually comes at a neat time for our church. We’re looking at lots of the same questions and wrestling with lots of the same things. Good stuff!

  6. 6 Miguel Carpizo October 26, 2007 at 10:08 pm

    Don’t you think that in the same way we as living organisms are changing constantly, because change produces life. Then the church also needs to be changing and moving the same way our world is changing and moving?…..my thoughts only

  7. 7 Billy Chia October 26, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Very cool that your church is wrestling with these questions. They can be difficult to ask, but are vital.

    Right on! The Church is a living organism – the Body of Christ – and needs to change to grow.

  8. 8 Jay Sellers October 27, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Good stuff, Billy. I watched both videos reluctantly, but I’m glad that I did.

  9. 9 Billy Chia October 27, 2007 at 10:19 pm

    I’m glad you did too man 🙂

  10. 10 inWorship October 28, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    There are a lot of great questions about how we do church? They are getting asked more and more. Willow is a leading church in this country. they have taken responsibility for what they do and how they affect other churches and leaders. I applaud them for not only asking the tough questions, but challenging us to do the same. they are also willing to do this together. that is pretty cool. I agree…great humility!

  11. 11 Elle Pyke October 29, 2007 at 4:11 pm

    Thanks for linking to my blog and the article I wrote on this issue. This is one of the most exciting conversations going on right now. I am anxious to see if we see some real fruit and real re-thinking to our church programs comes from this. Your right, everyone blogged on this one! People who haven’t blogged for months got back on the saddle for this one. Good to see people’s passions!

  12. 12 Billy Chia October 29, 2007 at 5:01 pm

    Yeah – I’m a huge fan of doing it together.

    No prob. Yeah this is just the start, or at least the middle. I can’t for the conclusions to come out.

  13. 13 Erin November 2, 2007 at 9:29 am

    I don’t know if you are able to link to this blog post I came across on this very thing. It alerts quite a warning or claims to see what might really be going on here… not sure what to think of all of this.


  14. 14 Billy Chia November 2, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Thanx for the tip – I’ve linked up that post.

    I actually came across many more posts that simply linked to the Willow Creek Reveal site or the videos but didn’t comment at all on the implications. I made an effort actually link the articles that actually added to the discussion – the lighthouse post definitely had some things to say.

    I pretty thoroughly disagree with what they had to say. It sounds like an opinion based on misinformation – or very minimally based on a misunderstanding of what people like Hybles or Warren are actually seeking to do.

  15. 15 Erin November 2, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Note taken… very interesting stuff. Those videos hit home for me as well, either way.

  16. 16 paul December 1, 2007 at 2:32 pm

    I know I’m joining the conversation way too late, but I just wanted to say that I watched both videos and was sorely disappointed. While I don’t doubt their (i.e. Hybels and Hawkins) sincerity, it seems that they just don’t get it. As Doug Groothuis noted on his blog (http://theconstructivecurmudgeon.blogspot.com/2007/11/reveal-willow-creek-is-weak.html),Willow is making their failure into an “event.” Buy the book, watch the video. What will round #2 bring us from Hybels and company? Honestly, I’m not interested. We need a church that challenges our culture, not one that apes it; a church that presents its own sacred culture, not one that attempts to Christianize pop culture; a church that embodies the sacred realities of a holy God, not one that markets Jesus.

    My own thoughts are here:



  17. 17 inWorship December 3, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    Billy and Paul, I don’t mean to be rude here, but why do people continue to air their dirty laundry about Willow over this?

    Paul, you do realize that this has nothing to do with them being a “seeker” church, or how they spend their money…which this link you’ve given, decided was the issue. Everyone who hates Willow and what they do has found this info perfect for them to “speak” their opinions.

    I continue to applaud a church that has an affect on others to do what they are doing. They see how things could be better and they are showing others where they have failed and how it affect4d their church(not our church…THEIR church). I wish churches and Christian people would quit ridiculing other churches and Christians and pull the “perfect” logs out of their own eyes…I’m tired of it!

  18. 18 Billy Chia December 4, 2007 at 9:16 am

    I love the rant man and I feel your passion. I was just talking with a friend yesterday about how much people criticize the Church and churches. I’m pretty tired of it too. I mean c’mon it’s the Bride of Christ let’s show some respect.

  19. 19 Ricky M December 7, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    Hey all, i am a guy from Northern Ireland and I had the opportunity to visit Willowcreek at the leadership summit in 2005. I only got a small taster of the impact Willow has on the lives of the people there and it is awesome. There aint no perfect church out there – not one! Willow is led by men passionate about God and discipleship.

    Lets not bring each other down for the sake of it! Tis not worth it! If Willow was teaching/practising anything which would drive a wedge between God and man, then i can see the concern and agree with it.

    I think this situation is an opportunity for Bill and the guys to come out and say – we are doing things imperfectly for Christ – so lets make a change. We all need to do that daily anyhow!!

  1. 1 Director's Web Blog » Blog Archive » Learning from Willow Creek’s Self Revelation - Village Missions Trackback on November 13, 2007 at 4:40 pm
  2. 2 Something to consider « Susannah Prill’s Weblog Trackback on October 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm
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