Self Feeders

Reading Church Marketing Sucks, I came across a post called Willow Creek’s 30-Year Apology. The full article can (and should) be read at Leadership Journal’s “Out of Ur” blog on

It turns out the millions of dollars invested in programs and participation hasn’t really helped people grow in the way Willow Creek thought. You’ve got to admire the brutal honesty of an organization that has done so much for the Kingdom. It would’ve been easy to sit on their laurels and bask in their “success.”

Here’s a quote from Hybels as posted on Out of Ur:

Hybels confesses:

We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own.

The Out of Ur blog goes on to say:

In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.

For those of you reading this that consider the Vineyard Church of Waterville your home, this is exactly what we’re shooting for:

  • prayer,
  • bible reading,
  • relationships.

More than anything else, I VCW to be a place that helps people (including me) be ever growing as “self feeders.”

This is why we keep trying to get an intercessory prayer group off the ground. And why we have the VCW-Prayer Google Group. And why we are constantly talking about healing prayer on Sundays and in kinships.

This is why we’re going through Acts based on an inductive Bible study model. And why my sermons on Acts are structured as they are. I’m trying to model a form of Bible study that I hope and pray you’re putting into practice during the week.

The conversation we had in the middle of the sermon this week with Em and Dean is good. My prayer is that you’re prepping for the sermon throughout the week. Going chapter by chapter makes it VERY easy to know what the next sermon will be about.

This is also why we do so much “parties” and “kinships” and “gatherings” and “movie nights” and “outreach.” We’re not trying to fill up our calendars just to seem busy. I desperately want our relationships to extend beyond Sundays.

And this is why we invest in books and CD’s in the Resource Center and mark them so much under list price. I want to provide as many tools as possible for us to grow in whatever direction is calling each of us individually.

This isn’t a rant. Those of you that call VCW home are doing this. And I’m so proud of you! It’s just that Hybel’s experience and comments so succinctly articulated what we’re trying to do that it was a great opportunity to encourage us to keep on keeping on.

And in 30 years, I pray we’re still be as relentlessly analytical and open to changing as Willow Creek is now. (And that we’ve done as much good as they’ve done so far!)

Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman helps leaders lead their teams with more effectiveness and less stress. The author of "Ask Without Fear!®," he is the founder of The Concord Leadership Group and He's also the executive director of and an Advisory Panel member of Rogare, a prestigious international fundraising think tank. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook. To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to

Leave a Reply