Meds, therapy, and a mental health facility—these were the solutions I was offered. One counselor suggested that my condition wouldn't change for the rest of my life and that I'd always need medication. As desperate as I was, I just didn't buy it. There had to be some other answer to my problem. After trying several Christian therapists, each of whom employed a different approach, no one could alter the patterned behaviors I was stuck in. After all, obsessive Bible study and street evangelism aren't your run-of-the-mill symptoms.
"God, I'm doing everything they say to do. I'm reading my Bible four or five hours a day. I'm sharing my faith with everybody I meet. I'm at church every time the doors are open. But I still don't feel like I'm growing spiritually. I'm stalled, and I can't explain why. You say the truth will set me free. I'm anything but free!"
I needed God to start all over with me, and He did. Although I was already a Christian, my belief system was poisoned with religiosity. Back then, if I were honest and vulnerable, my sales pitch would have been, "Would you like to become a Christian and be miserable like me?"
But today I'd wish my Christian experience on everyone. I've learned some radical, Scriptural truths that were right there in the Bible, that I never knew existed. That's why I wrote The Naked Gospel – to share with others the liberating truths that absolutely revolutionized my life.
I'm not the only one to hit rock bottom. Apparently, many Christians experience an initial excitement upon accepting Christ but later become disappointed, disillusioned, or even depressed. Some of America's church leaders have been trying to figure out why this epidemic exists and what can be done about it. In 2004, Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, developed the REVEAL survey to understand and measure the heart—the emotions and attitudes—of the people who attend Willow Creek. Since then, over four hundred churches of a cross section of sizes, denominations, and regions of the country have used the survey to ask their members questions similar to the ones below.
How would you answer the questions on the REVEAL survey? Let's find out! For each question below, answer with a number between 1 (lowest level) and 10 (highest level).
- How would you rate your level of enthusiasm for church?
- How would you rate your overall level of fulfillment in life?
- How would you rate your level of satisfaction with your spiritual growth?
- How would you rate your level of involvement in church-related activities?
The Willow Creek researchers thought they might find a strong relationship between time spent on church activities and spiritual growth and fulfillment. They presumed that anyone who donated their time to church must be actively growing and fulfilled. That makes sense, right?