From “Close to Christ” to “Christ-centered”

Tim Hallman, senior pastor, Anchor Community Church (Fort Wayne, Ind.)
I am attending the REVEAL conference at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago. On Tuesday, Bill Hybels, Willow’s pastor, talked about the four categories of people they identified in the REVEAL study. Here’s what he had to say about them:

  • Exploring Christ. People at this level are not sure what they believe or even really think about Jesus.
  • Growing in Christ. These are people attending the church who are beginning to work on their relationship with Jesus.
  • Close to Christ. These church people depend on Jesus regularly for help in their lives.
  • Christ-centered. For these people, Jesus is the most important person in their life.

As revealing as this information was to Hybels, what he really wanted to know was how to move people from segment to segment. How do you do that? Preaching? Worship singing? Church activity?

A major revelation was the primacy of engagement with the Bible! The more an individual fed on the Scriptures, the more they moved towards becoming Christ-centered.

Interestingly, the most difficult transition to make in becoming Christ-centered was the last movement–from Close to Christ to Christ-centered. It’s the Christ-centered ones who give sacrificially of money, time, energy, love, service. People in the other three categories are still very self-centered about their relationship with Christ. Only in the last category are people fully-devoted to the person of Christ. They have moved beyond self-centeredness to Christ-centeredness, abandoning self in complete surrender to Jesus.

The new strategy at Willow for Hybels? Focus on helping people make the move to become Christ-centered. It’s the hardest move, but it’s the one that will yield the biggest results for the Kingdom.

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