Fitch and McKnight in a REVEALing discussion

kinnon —  December 10, 2007 — 8 Comments

David Fitch and Scot McKnight are two seminary profs and emerging church thought-leaders whose blogs I read on a regular basis. (Dave blogs a little less often than Scot.)

Fitch is a prof at Northern Seminary and one of the pastoral team at Life on the Vine. He is also the author of The Great Giveaway, Reclaiming the Mission of the Church from Big Business, Parachurch Organizations, Psychotherapy, Consumer Capitalism, and Other Modern Maladies, one of the more important books in any discussion of the Western church in post-modernity.

McKnight is a prof at North Park University and the author of numerous books including The Jesus Creed – a book on our profound requirement to love God and love others – a simple yet powerful interpretation of the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6. When at home in the Chicagoland area, McKnight attends Willow Creek.

Fitch and McKnight, friends that they are, have come down on opposite sides of the debate around Willow Creek and the church’s Reveal study. Scot, from his post this morning, is not impressed with those of us who have criticized Willow, it’s Reveal study and its present actions around that study. In my not so humble opinion, McKnight appears to be taking on the role of an apologist for the church. McKnight comments,

To those who are criticizing the study, observe this: it is a “customer satisfaction” type survey and it measures how the local church is contributing to the personal, individual development in spiritual formation of Christians.

On Fitch’s post, Is the Consumerism Critique Legit?, McKnight has debated calling Willow a consumeristic church, but might I suggest that any church that does a customer satisfaction survey is, by definition, consumeristic. (Why else would it do do a customer satisfaction type survey? Might it be based on this from a poster that, apparently, until recently hung outside Hybels door, "What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?")

McKnight and Fitch are taking their debate to the airwaves at WMBI Radio in Chicago at 7:30am CT on Thursday morning – 8:30am in my neck of the woods (ET). You can listen in live here or tune in via iTunes using this link and pasting it into the dialogue box when you select Open Stream under the Advanced Menu in iTunes (or simply selecting Command – U in iTunes).

I will be making a point of listening. You will find my thoughts on Consumerism (and the church) here.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

8 responses to Fitch and McKnight in a REVEALing discussion

  1. I don’t know if I’m with Dave on everything, but I definitely think he has the better side on this issue. The larger question is whether or not we should all be smacking Willow Creek around. There have been a lot of gleeful, I-told-you-so attitudes, and I don’t think that’s appropriate.

    At the same time, Willow can’t get off scot (no pun intended) free. We all may have drunk the kool aid freely, even eagerly, but they helped brew and distribute it. I look forward to Scot and Dave discussing this.

    By the way, “Dave blogs a little less often than Scot” is pretty well true of almost anyone, isn’t it? Where does that guy find the time?!?

  2. I’m convinced that McKnight never sleeps. And the “little less” comment was written with a smile. Dave blogs a couple of times a month – but he’s always worth reading.

    I think tarring all of us who disagree with Willow’s Reveal response, with the proclaiming I-told-you-so brush is a bit of a straw man argument on Scot’s part. Three years ago I was part of the megachurch world – working with and consulting with a number of large North American churches. My position has been informed by my own experience and by the influence of a number of gifted writers, including Fitch.

    Thanks for the comment, Mike. ‘Twas great meeting you in Washington State.

  3. Bill,

    I miss buying underpants with you. That was special.


  4. Ahh, the joys of consumerism.
    Andrew is Australian. He comes to North America about once a year. On rare occasions his bags accompany him. This year wasn’t one of them. So we hit a Target…for “men’s furnishings” as it were.

  5. Wow – you’ve given some great background and links here, Bill – thanks! I think I’ll be posting something about this subject on my blog and refer people here instead of try to come up with this all myself.

    Meanwhile, if you and Andrew were out shopping for essentials, while that leads to consumption, is that reeeeeeally consumerism underneath?!

  6. Don’t know if you are interested in a sociological perspective.

    Bradley Wright did a series on the Reveal study.

  7. Brad,
    Great post @ your blog on the topic. From a far more intellectual position than mine, Mr. Futuristguy!

    If Willow Creek represents the essential Pragmatic paradigm that may become the liminality cry of the modernist era, how will our continuing to follow their lead help us transition into the Holistic paradigm of postmodernity?

  8. BD,
    Thanks for the tip. I’ll be off to read it once I’m finished typing. And then I think I’ll close my internet connection for the evening…for my own sanity.


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