Willow Creek Community Church

Willow Creek Community Church
Country United States
Denomination Non-denominational, evangelical
Website willowcreek.org
Founder(s) Bill Hybels
Senior pastor(s) Bill Hybels

Willow Creek Community Church (or simply Willow Creek Church) is an American non-denominational and multi-generational Evangelical Christian megachurch located in the Chicago suburb of South Barrington, Illinois. It was founded on October 12, 1975, by Bill Hybels, who is currently the senior pastor. The church has three weekend services averaging 26,000 attendees, making it one of the largest churches in the United States (this ranking includes multi-site churches).[1]


Bill Hybels

Willow Creek Community Church started when Bill Hybels and Dave Holmbo[2] were inspired by the success of the South Park Church's youth ministry, Son City, of which they were both leaders (Holmbo had invited Hybels to work with him a few years earlier), and aspired to start a church that used relevant biblical teaching, music, and drama. On October 12, 1975, the church met for the first time, renting Willow Creek Theater in Palatine, Illinois. Gilbert Bilezikian was Hybels' theological mentor at this time.[3] In 1977, the church purchased 90 acres (360,000 m2) in South Barrington to build its own building. The first service was held in the new building in February 1981. Since then, the building has been doubled in size and the property expanded to 155 acres (0.63 km2). The changes included a new worship center with more than 7,000 seats, which replaces the 4,500-seat Lakeside Auditorium.

There are now ministries designed to serve a variety of needs for different age and people groups.[4]

Church organization

Willow Creek Community Church's leadership is divided into three sections:

In addition to the South Barrington central campus, Willow Creek has seven "regional congregations" around the Chicago area:

Willow Creek has different ministries depending on the age of the person:

The church holds three weekend services and a midweek service on Wednesdays. The slogan for Willow Creek and their regional congregations is "One Church. Multiple Locations." The regional congregations each have their own worship team, student ministries, children's program, and campus pastoral team. The main message is videocast from the South Barrington campus for the weekly services. Currently, the Crystal Lake campus is the only campus to worship out of a permanent facility. However, by 2017 the North Shore, South Lake, and Crystal Lake campuses will all be in permanent facilities (Crystal Lake having upgraded to a larger facility).

Aside from the suburban congregations, beginning October 1, 2006, the church has held one Sunday service before matinee performances at the Auditorium Theatre just south of the Chicago Loop. The church will also use its downtown presence to develop its ministries for the homeless and prostitutes.[5]

Willow Creek Association

In 1992, the Willow Creek Association was created as a way to link together churches for the purpose of “Reaching increasing numbers of lost people." The WCA develops training and leadership conferences and resources for its member churches. The Willow Creek Association is often confused with Willow Creek Community Church, or mistaken for a denomination. However, it is a distinctly separate organization which has close affiliations with Willow Creek Community Church.

There are more than 13,000 member churches, which come from 90 denominations, and 45 different countries. There is an annual membership fee of $249 which gives the member church access to discounts on Willow Creek Resources and conferences, as well as a magazine, an audio journal, several web-based ministry tools, and a variety of Select Service Providers. Select Service Providers are ministries and organizations that provide products and services to member churches for a discounted price.[6]

Since 1995, Willow Creek Association has held an annual leadership summit. Speakers at the summit have included President Bill Clinton,[7] Karen Hughes, who served as Special Advisor to former President George W. Bush, Lady Vols' women's college Basketball coach Pat Summitt, Dallas, Texas pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes, business consultant and author Jim Collins, University of Southern California president Steven Sample, Yahoo!'s Tim Sanders, business author and leadership consultant Marcus Buckingham, and Rick Warren, pastor and author of The Purpose Driven Life. The 2005 leadership summit had over 53,000 attendees in over 100 locations across North America.[8] The 2006 Leadership Summit featured Bill Hybels interviewing U2 frontman Bono.

The 2007 Leadership Summit served 80,000 leaders in over 130 cities. Speakers included Colin Powell, Jimmy Carter, John Ortberg, Richard Curtis, Reo Anderson, Carly Fiorina, Michael E. Porter, Marcus Buckingham and Willow Creek Community Church's senior pastor, Bill Hybels.[9]

Worship Center

Willow Creek's Worship Center (completed in 2004 at an estimated cost of $73 million)[10] seats 7,095 people, making it over twice as large as the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood and one of the largest auditoriums in the United States.[11]

It was the first church in the world to make use of two Mitsubishi Diamond Vision high-definition LED screens 14 feet × 24 feet in size, usually seen in new sports stadiums. Each screen is movable on its own track system and can be combined into one giant screen. The Worship Center also has dual stacked-deck balconies.

The auditorium also contains a 94 ft by 57 ft stage, a catwalk 47 ft above the floor, 481 light fixtures, and an adjustable height lighting rack.

Wheelchair seating has a "1 person to 1 LCD ratio" for disabled attendees. Back rows have 62-inch (1.6 m) LCD screens at an approximate "10 seats to 1 LCD ratio." Every TV broadcasts the service across the room utilizing 8–12 High Definition cameras. Willow Creek completed an upgrade to HD in July 2015.

Notable members

Books about Willow Creek Community Church

Coordinates: 42°05′29″N 88°08′03″W / 42.0915°N 88.1343°W / 42.0915; -88.1343


  1. "Willow creek", Church, Believe.
  2. Tribute, CMM link
  3. McClymond, Michael J (2004), Embodying the Spirit: New Perspectives on North American Revivalism, p. 317, Also unclear historically is the role played by theology professor Gilbert Bilezikian, Hybels's theological mentor, during the...
  4. "History". Willow Creek Community Church.
  5. Brachear, Manya A. (2006-07-31). "Suburban megachurch readies expansion to Chicago". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2006-07-31.
  6. WCA Membership, WCA website
  7. Cutrer, Corrie (2000-08-25). "Clinton Visit Provokes Church Members". Christianity Today.
  8. "Leadership conference overview".
  9. "GLS07 Speaker Lineup". Willow Creek Australia. Archived from the original on August 31, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-14.
  10. Stokes, Jim (2005-04-18). "Willow Creek Redefines Worship" (PDF). Sound & Communications.
  11. Rybczynski, Witold. "An Anatomy of Megachurches: The new look for places of worship," Slate October 10, 2005.
  12. http://edwardmcclelland.com/index.php?page=tackling-souls Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. http://news.willowcreek.org/tag/mike-singletary/ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. "BarlowGirl", Music (biography), Yahoo, retrieved March 24, 2008.
  15. "BarlowGirl", Artist (biography), Your Music Zone, archived from the original on September 26, 2007, retrieved July 16, 2007
  16. Bridgeway: Our History, retrieved May 19, 2014
  17. Multicultural Ministry Handbook
  18. "Jimmy Garoppolo on Twitter". Retrieved 2016-09-13.

Willow Creek websites

Perspectives and analysis

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/11/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.