Part Three of Move is the overall summary on what the authors believe churches can do to “move” people from the first category of Exploring Christ to final mature category of Christ Centered. The section contains six chapters with the first one serving as an introduction to the concept of “Spiritual Vitality Index” which is modeled upon the medical professions “Body Mass Index.” The SVI serves as a measurement tool to gauge the spiritual health of a congregation. The higher the SVI number, the better.
This number is very important for the methodology of Move because the best practices are determined by examining the ministry strategy and methods of the best practices churches. Best practices churches are determined by those with SVI’s in the top five percentile. The next four chapters highlight these four top practices:
- Get People Moving–The first best practice highlights a discipleship agenda that focuses upon the processes of spiritual growth. Instead of small groups with varying curriculum, best practices churches use models similar to or identical to Rick Warren’s famous baseball diamond with the 101, 201, 301, 401 structure.
- Embed the Bible–Examples are given about churches that are able to lead their congregations to more frequent encounters with the Scriptures.
- Create Ownership–Churches that are able to convince their congregations that they “Don’t go to church, they are the church” are able to move them into more community activity and evangelism. The idea is not one of controlling the church but of turning everyday life into ministry opportunities.
- Pastor the Local Community–The authors reject the classic divide of “is it the gospel or social action” and say both! Churches that have healthier spirituality are involved in a myriad of community projects and ministries.
Part Three ends with a challenge to leaders to have a Christ-centered heart. By that the writers and researchers mean church leaders must not see church growth or more numbers as the goal, but individuals who are growing in their personal discipleship. They suggest this should be pursued even if it means your church shrinks in numbers. The goal is better disciples, not more disciples. Although, the caveat they offer is that better disciples will, in the long term, produce more disciples.
Reading Part Three and the Appendices, two things struck me. One, the writers use the word “Paradigm” a lot. I think they should probably reduce that. Each chapter suggests that what they are suggesting is a paradigm shift, i.e. “Embedding the Bible into everyday ministry is a paradigm shift for most churches.” They do that with all of these. I fail to see the paradigm shift. Involvement in the community, the Bible, setting discipleship criteria and goals, and encouraging people to be active in their daily lives for ministry opportunities are hardly paradigm shifts. My suggestion is that we should view it as a reinforcement of classical Christian ideas.
The second thing which struck me is from the Appendices, p. 274 where the authors indicate how Willow Creek responded. Willow was not among the best practices churches and decided they needed to change. What they changed was their famous Believer’s Service on Wednesday nights. Back in the dark ages when I was in seminary we were taught all about Willow’s adoption of “seeker services on Sunday” and then a “believer’s service on Wednesday.” After the Reveal report and the Move study they threw that out the window in favor of a “university” approach featuring the 101, 201, 301, 401 on Wednesdays. This “move” essentially replaces small groups in the weekly life of the church. I find these wholesale changes rather amazing.
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