Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Review of Willow Creek’s Follow Me: What’s Next for You? (Reveal II) by Greg Hawkins and Cally Parkinson

(Part 1 in a 13 series)

Earlier this year, the Reveal team at Willow Creek Church put out their second book, Follow Me: What’s Next for You? I wrote a rather extensive review of their original book, Reveal, and so I thought I would follow it up by reviewing their second book as well.

Once again, let me summarize my approach to reviews like this. I’m not an expert in church growth, but it seems to me that Willow Creek is doing a fine job at being a church. I’ve had a chance to visit the church, read books by their pastors, and attend their annual Leadership Conference, and these have left me impressed with the good work that they are doing. I know that Willow Creek has its share of critics, but I don’t count myself as one of them. Rather, I write this review to help readers of Follow Me to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of this book as well as to think through some of the issues that arise when we use survey data in advancing the Church’s work.

It’s my impression that more-and-more church-related books are coming out that use empirical data. This probably results from the increasingly easy use of survey methods via the internet. Also, high-profile work by groups such as Reveal, The Barna Group, and Lifeway Research have been widely received, perhaps inspiring even more people to take an empirical approach to writing for the church. As a result, the average pastor who wants to stay current on the church-growth literature will need to have a working knowledge of the basic of social research. This doesn’t necessarily mean knowing high-end statistics, but rather issues of cause and effect, research design, and measurement. Much of this is rather intuitive, so I am hoping that my raising the issues with Follow Me will help church leaders to see them in other work as well.

Lots of people have commented on the Reveal Series. Some of the links that you might want to read include:

Andy Rowell
Christian Post
Random musings
Directions to Orthodoxy

Next: Summary of findings

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