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
RecommendedPopular Pastor Resigns after 'Moral Failure,' But Followers Still Want His Sermons
Popular Pastor Resigns after 'Moral Failure,' But Followers Still Want His Sermons
Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale explains why it took down Bob Coy's teachings on marriage.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickYou Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
You Probably Love (or Hate) 'Heaven Is For Real' for All the Wrong Reasons
It's not a travel guide. And Colton Burpo isn't the first Christian to have an ecstatic experience.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.

hide thisJune June

In the Magazine

June 2008

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