Guest / Limited Access /

After modeling a seeker-sensitive approach to church growth for three decades, Willow Creek Community Church now plans to gear its weekend services toward mature believers seeking to grow in their faith.

The change comes on the heels of an ongoing four-year research effort first made public late last summer in Reveal: Where Are You?, a book coauthored by executive pastor Greg Hawkins. Hawkins said during an annual student ministries conference in April that Willow Creek would also replace its midweek services with classes on theology and the Bible.

Whether more changes are in store for the suburban Chicago megachurch isn't clear. Hawkins declined CT's interview request, and senior pastor Bill Hybels was unavailable for comment.

Since 1975, Willow Creek has avoided conventional church approaches, using its Sunday services to reach the unchurched through polished music, multimedia, and sermons referencing popular culture and other familiar themes. The church's leadership believed the approach would attract people searching for answers, bring them into a relationship with Christ, and then capitalize on their contagious fervor to evangelize others.

...

As Willow Creek expanded its research into churches of varying geographic locations, sizes, and ethnic and denominational backgrounds, the church said the same general pattern emerged, an indication that the problem extends beyond Willow Creek.

Dave Terpstra, teaching pastor of The Next Level Church in Denver, a Willow Creek Association member congregation that draws about 600 people on Tuesday nights, said he's unsure Willow Creek can provide greater depth to mature believers by its moves, especially since more traditional churches wrestle with the same issue.

North River Community ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedGoodbye, Mars Hill: Mark Driscoll's Multisite Empire Will Sell Properties and Dissolve
Goodbye, Mars Hill: Mark Driscoll's Multisite Empire Will Sell Properties and Dissolve
Come New Year's Day, 13 churches will go their separate ways or shut down.
TrendingWhite Christians: It's Time to Stand in Solidarity With Your Black Brothers and Sisters
White Christians: It's Time to Stand in Solidarity With Your Black Brothers and Sisters
The history that led us to Ferguson. A guest post by Christena Cleveland
Editor's PickA Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
The grand jury has made a decision in Ferguson, now we have to make ours. How will we respond?
Comments
Christianity Today
Willow Creek's 'Huge Shift'
hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2008

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.