Willow Crystal Lake leadership has been in a process of learning that three crucial ingredients to healing are grace, truth, and time.
What we truly need are grace and truth over time. (Luke 13:6–9)
Over the last 14 months, profound dysfunction has come to light in our larger Willow family. This was most recently detailed in the Independent Advisory Group’s Report on April 17, and then in the Governance Review Report on May 2. Much of this brokenness has stemmed from the abuse of power and a lack of accountability with senior leadership. At Willow Crystal Lake (WCL), we realize that we are a part of the larger Willow family. Therefore, we continue to be in a season of thorough assessment and refinement—seeking to diligently examine our own local church leadership and culture.
While these past several months have involved dismantling and rebuilding of larger leadership structures, our local work is not done. Through our own renewal efforts, we are wanting to go deeper to ensure the trustworthiness of our leaders and systems—taking the time and using the tools we need to dig deeper and appropriately call out and correct any potential abuse of power or authority.
So, last August, in an effort to ensure more grace and more truth over more time, we began a conversation with GRACE Ministries. (GRACE stands for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.) GRACE is the leading ministry helping Christian organizations recognize, respond to, and prevent physical, sexual, or emotional abuse. We’ve asked GRACE to help us determine if there are any areas of concern in our own local church’s culture—our own WCL community—in two specific ways:
First, a highly experienced team from GRACE has already begun the work of comprehensively assessing WCL’s current policies & practices related to preventing and responding to any kind of behavioral misconduct—whether physical, sexual, or emotional—involving staff, volunteers, or congregants.
Second, and as another action in WCL’s larger Renewal Plan—where we are diligently seeking to cooperate with God to ensure that our church experiences real, deep, and lasting healing, restoration, and positive impact for Jesus Christ—we are launching an independent culture survey, conducted by GRACE. The purpose of this survey is to help create a healthier, safer culture at WCL, ensuring that we have the strongest systems of protection in place for our congregants and staff and anyone else who has contact with WCL, allowing a safe system of feedback & processing around any specific situations of potential misconduct. GRACE will help us address and assess any individual allegations of behavioral misconduct or perceived behavioral misconduct brought to their attention during this process by reaching out to any individual asking for further conversation about their situation and then recommending to our church leadership a framework for how to best proceed in processing the situation with those individuals if they desire reconciliation.
This thorough assessment of our policies, leadership, and culture will help us uncover any potential areas of concern from those in our church regarding how our church handles authority and responds to any potential misconduct.
While the information provided in the survey may be used in the final assessment provided to us, we want you to know that the survey is 100% confidential, unless you choose to identify yourself in the survey for further follow-up. The bottom line is that this survey is a safe way to allow everyone to feel and be heard—sharing any information you think is relevant to your experience as a part of WCL that may help us heal and grow.
For this survey to be as effective it can possibly be, we’re asking for maximum participation. That means we’re asking each of you to complete this survey and to do so in the next few weeks, although we’ll leave the survey open well beyond that to ensure ample time to respond. Even if your experience at WCL has only been healthy, please know there are additional questions in this survey requesting your insight on what our church has learned in this season of crisis, so again, your truthful participation will be a gift to our church and will help us to more fully become the church God intends. You can find the survey by a) going to the Willow App, b) texting “CultureSurvey” to 900900, or c) picking up a paper copy at one of our Info Bars in the Atrium at Willow Crystal Lake’s home at 100 S. Main.
Right now, we are in a delicate period of time related to Willow’s larger crisis. It is a no-man’s-land between the old reality and the new one—between brokenness and healing. But this period of time is the core of the change process. And it’s filled with both danger and opportunity. Danger because most of us will try to rush through it and miss out on all the growth that God wants to bring to you and to us. The greatest danger is that if we don’t learn and turn from broken ways (i.e., repent), our impact for Jesus Christ won’t just be blunted, it will be removed (Revelation 2). However, this is also a period of great opportunity. If we don’t rush through this period of time but actually prayerfully, diligently reflect on what God is trying to teach us with both grace and truth, we will learn, change, and grow into the church He is inviting us to become. We’ll learn that, ironically, you find healing much more quickly if you don’t try to hurry through it. When you hurry healing, you only hinder healing.
So thank you, Willow Crystal Lake, for your continued pursuit of grace and truth over time so that we can come to bear all the fruit we can possibly bear as a church, with and for Jesus.
To exit the Willow Crystal Lake website and begin the GRACE Ministries Culture Survey of Willow Crystal Lake, please CLICK HERE.