Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Review of Willow Creek's Follow Me (Reveal): Summary of findings

(Part II in a series)

Follow Me uses about the same methodology as the original Reveal, just more widely applied. The data were collected from a convenience sample of about 200 churches with 80,000 respondents. The respondents filled out an on-line survey with hundreds of questions. It turns out that I attend one of the churches selected for the study, and so I am one of its respondents. This gave me the chance to read through the survey instrument itself and get a better feel for how Follow Me measures its concepts.

Follow Me shares many of the same concepts as Reveal. It focuses on what it terms a spiritual continuum, which is a four-stage progression of spiritual maturity from exploring Christ to being Christ-centered. It also links this continuum to various spiritual attitudes and behaviors such as reading the Bible, praying, attending church services, and theological beliefs.

Follow Me adds a couple of new concepts to the discussion. One is what it terms movements (p. 28), and basically these are the spiritual beliefs and attitudes that move a person from one stage in the spiritual continuum to the next. So, for example, the things that move a person from Stage 1 (exploring Christ) to Stage 2 (growing in Christ) are termed Movement 1. Follow Me also emphasizes what it terms the “gap”, which is the difference between what believers want from their church and how satisfied they are with what they have.

Follow Me identifies a variety of factors that catalyze spiritual growth. These include having orthodox spiritual beliefs and attitudes, attending organized church activities, having spiritual practices such as prayer and Bible reading, and doing spiritual activities outside of the church. Conversely, the respondents who reported being spiritually stalled measured as having low levels of various spiritual practices.

Follow Me is about 50% longer than Reveal. Also, whereas Reveal was focused almost solely on data, Follow Me makes use of poetry and extended metaphors, such as the lead author’s efforts at weight loss, Michael Jordan’s basketball skills, and the various instruments in an orchestra.

Next: Strengths of Follow Me.

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