Anyone for a “Spiritual Mini-Mall”

kinnon —  December 3, 2010 — 6 Comments


Perhaps it's just me, but this seems to REVEAL so much about the state of the evangelical church in the West.

Willow Creek, like many megachurches, looks less like a traditional steeple-and-people structure than a spiritual mini mall. It has a food court, a coffee shop that's clearly a Starbucks knockoff (complete with your choice of tall, grande, and venti), and a slate of ministries, events, and services comprehensive enough for a Christ-centered cruise ship. All of this telegraphs the message that the church is trying to meet present-day wants and needs. And it reflects the pragmatism that infuses the leadership summit, which Hybels says is meant "to mess with people's minds a little." [Some emphasis added]

And this quote is simply icing on the WC cake,

…Willow summit balances the secular yin with the Christ-centered yang.

It all just seems to bring this to mind. But. Again. Perhaps it's just me.



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 Anyone for a “Spiritual Mini-Mall”

  1. I always have mixed feelings when I see things like this. I see no virtue in organizational ineptitude, yet this is a wee bit too syncretistic for it to sit well with me.

  2. I was hoping this was from an article written 15 years ago, but unfortunately I see that it is very current.

  3. The fact that they went with tall, grande, and venti says it all. A minor piece of data that can stand for the whole. I’m not sure it should bother me as much as it does, but I find it incredibly silly.

  4. J. Michael Matkin December 5, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Reminds me of a comment Kathleen Norris made a couple of years back. She recalled reading a quote from a megachurch pastor in Phoenix (who shall remain nameless), to the effect that he hoped that people who came to church were as comfortable as they were at the mall. Norris remarked that she felt like writing that pastor a letter thanking him for raising the next generation of Anglicans, Roman Catholics and Orthodox converts.

    By the way, Bill, I may never forgive you for that Youtube link. %^X

  5. I used to think that this sort of hoopla might be worth it if – as a previous commenter says – we got rid of the organizational ineptitude.

    The problem with this sort of thinking is that it doesn’t examine closely what replaces this organizational ineptitude. To put it another way, far from being Berean, Willow Creek doesn’t seem to even engage in the cultural critique of such management styles. This is even before you get to the knock-on spiritual effects of organising a church around the model of a corporation.

    To put it more crassly, what is Neutron Jack going to suggest as a church growth strategy? Firing your bottom ten percent every year?

  6. Well said, Chris.


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