This video's content was not surprising to me, but the source was. Willow Creek is one of the biggest mega churches in the U.S. That they would come right out and share, in a sincere desire to (hopefully) do things better, is admirable. Do they really get that the programs of the institution (of any kind, not just the religious kind) can never equal the power of real relationship?
My own experiences in the institutional church have taught me a few things.
-Small is better-for me.
-Pastors who depend on congregational giving to feed their families eventually decide to choose big over small.
-Bigger is not neccessarily more effective at encouraging real disciples; those who love God and other people, and act accordingly, without compulsion. (What I see as faith with works).
-A lot of "relationships" formed in institutional settings are very shallow; based a lot more on the fact that we are in the same physical space than that we are connected in any deep, meaningful way. (School friends, whom I knew for years but after graduation have lost contact with as we have nothing in common, fall into this category.)
-I need relationships, not for accountability, but for love, my deepest need, which is a reflection of the God who has called me His own.
-Eventually people become dissatisfied with that which does not work (more programs; which take more time and cost more money), and they go looking for it somewhere else. Often at the new mega church down the road.
-Those who can build the new mega church can attract all these dissatisfied people to their institution...at the expense of the smaller churches in the community.
-I hesitate to add..."and the cycle continues", but as this is just my opinion, I can say whatever I want and you can just call me cynical if you disagree.
Am I cynical? Am I reactive? Am I part of the problem, rather than part of the solution? Honestly, I don't know. But I do know that my faith is becoming more and more to be attributed to the person of God, and not to a desired outcome of my choosing. He, not me, is the author, and finisher of the whole thing.