Long famous for the orange-vested traffic guides ushering thousands into its parking lot on Sundays, Willow Creek celebrates its 30th anniversary this weekend with a new focus on local--smaller--services and neighborhood volunteer projects.
The emphasis marks a shift for a church that a decade ago rented the United Center for an anniversary celebration and last year expanded its auditorium to seat 7,200.
Church leaders say the approach still reflects its original goal of making Christianity relevant and attractive to the unchurched.
Willow Creek's research on the needs of Generation X showed that young people aren't content to simply sit back and watch the live music, drama and high-tech services that put the church on the map.
"There's a desire to experience religion rather than sit and listen," said Sue Dunn, one of a dozen community pastors. "The new generation coming up wants to experience the service, stand up, sing, communicate--which means being in the neighborhood."
Saturday, October 22, 2005
The Chicago Tribune has this great article about the McHenry site and Willow's recent emphasis on neighborhood ministry.