Susan REVEALs an Enigma

kinnon —  January 10, 2008 — 6 Comments

My friend Susan, The Philosophical Pastor (who I’m very glad to see blogging on a more regular basis again) comments on the REVEAL Spiritual Life Survey that her church has participated in. ‘Twould seem to be further indications of the consumer church at work. Susan writes,

All I can really say about the survey is this: Surveys in general are far more “revealing” about the data-collector’s assumptions than about the persons who fill in little dots next to a limited array of objective selections. The way questions are framed and the choices that are provided speak for themselves. The assumption seems to be that there will be indicators for people who are ’satisfied’ with their spiritual growth, and once those indicators are determined, products that target those indicators can be bundled together and offered to seekers of spiritual growth. This will make them very happy, and they will keep coming to church and even invite their friends because that’s what satisfied customers do.

Hey — it works in the marketplace; why not in the church? Spiritual growth is just like anything else human beings want, right? We want fuel-efficient cars, fit bodies, smooth younger-looking skin… and spiritual growth.

Please read the entire post at Susan’s blog and comment there.



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.

6 responses to Susan REVEALs an Enigma

  1. If you are interested in this, Sociologist Brad Wright has done some extensive posting on the Reveal study… great stuff.

    There is a link here:
    link to

  2. Ben,
    If, as you say on your blog,

    Generally, I have found that people who don’t like Willow (for a variety of bizarre reasons) don’t like the study and interpret it in as negative a light as possible. I’m actually not very interested in that discussion.

    then, why are you here?

  3. Hey Bill

    I am here because I enjoy your blog and — even when I disagree with you — find you thoughtful and open-minded.

    I also thought you would appreciate Brad’s posts. Though Brad attends the church I pastor, we have very different feelings about Reveal and Brad has done a nice job critiquing from a sociological and research perspective. He also does an excellent job explaining the consumer model (as a research paradigm) that Willow used.

    I’m not here to defend Willow or Reveal… I just enjoy reading what you think and figured you might enjoy Brad’s blog.

    Sorry if I intruded…


  4. Sorry, Ben. I’m a little testy today. And I read you calling my response to the consumer church, of which Willow Creek is a prime example, as bizarre. And you not wanting to be a part of that discussion.

    Not particularly friendly of me. I apologize.

  5. Ben,
    THANK YOU for pointing to Brad Wright’s posts on the REVEAL study. I read them all and appreciated his insights. While my bizarre reaction to Willow may not be worth the read, Brad’s careful and scholarly assesment is. The questions he raises are worth answering, if one really cares about using data the way it should be used: to solve real problems.

  6. And Bill – thanks for the link – but I was a little frightened of the attention today. I do LOVE my church…


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