|Willow Creek Community Church
In 1975 leaders of Son City, a successful youth program at Park Ridge's South Park Church, decided to create a new ministry for unchurched adults. A door-to-door survey of the local community taught them why people stayed away from church. Incorporating contemporary music, drama, and multimedia technology, the new congregation first met on October 12, 1975, in Palatine's Willow Creek Theater. Within two years worship services grew from 125 to 2,000 people. In 1981 the evangelical church moved to its current location in South Barrington and continued to increase in numbers and size on its sprawling campus. By 2000, it drew 15,000 for weekly services.
Led by Pastor Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Community Church became famous as the prototypical “megachurch,” widely imitated—and criticized—for its entertaining worship style and use of modern marketing strategies. “Seeker services” deliberately target the curious and the unchurched, while members worship at believer-oriented New Community services. To connect people to the church, Willow Creek has hundreds of small groups, devoted to everything from Bible study to singles' fellowship to car repair. The affiliated Willow Creek Association publishes curriculum materials, runs leadership seminars, and encourages thousands of affiliated churches, extending its influence nationwide.
Hybels, Lynne, and Bill Hybels. Rediscovering Church: The Story and Vision of Willow Creek Community Church. 1995.
Pritchard, G. A. Willow Creek Seeker Services: Evaluating a New Way of Doing Church. 1996.
The Electronic Encyclopedia of Chicago © 2005 Chicago Historical Society.
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