Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Monday, October 30, 2006
Friday, October 27, 2006
Charlie Dean at Random Thoughts and Associations
Saturday, October 21, 2006
New York Times
As dusk settles on this neighborhood of 1920’s bungalows and old farmhouses northwest of Chicago, Randy Frazee strums a banjo on his front porch, waiting for his dinner guests to arrive. No cars line his curb because everyone who is coming lives within walking distance.
Once the 12 guests — ranging in age from about 7 to 70 — and the Frazee family have gathered around three tables set end-to-end, they join hands, and Mr. Frazee, a pastor at the Willow Creek Community Church, says a prayer. A meal of barbecued brisket, cheese potatoes and green beans follows.
Throughout the evening, conversation occasionally touches on favorite scriptures and “walking with the Lord.” The guests tell about their best and worst moments of the week. As dinner wraps up, Mr. Frazee asks one of the couples to talk about “how Christ walks in their life.”
It’s the first night of “The Table,” a new program offered by Willow Creek — a nondenominational megachurch that regularly draws several thousand people to its services at a 155-acre campus nearby, in South Barrington. “The Table,” however, is deliberately kept small as Willow Creek seeks innovative ways to meet the changing needs of churchgoers searching for ways to express their faith.
Bill Hybels, the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek, has used business-world strategies — notably branding and word-of-mouth marketing — to help the church grow from 125 congregants 30 years ago into the megachurch it is today. While Mr. Hybels says he does not use marketing techniques to spread God’s word, “we do attempt to harness the full potential of modern technology and business strategies to communicate with our members and our community.”
He has also brought in advisers like Mr. Frazee, who use business ideas to spread the message of the church. Mr. Frazee said many of his ideas grew out of a friendship he had with a Texas developer. “I mentored him in spiritual matters and he mentored me in transferable concepts to the church from his world of business,” Mr. Frazee said. “I would say it was one of the many factors that led me down a path to the ‘Table’ concept.”
The new messages — from Willow Creek and other nondenominational churches to mainstream denominations like the Episcopal and the United Methodist churches — tend to focus on connectedness, theology and shared values.
Click on the link above to read the entire article at the New York Times website. You may have to register, but it's free.
Indicative that suns go down;
The notice to the startled grass
That darkness is about to pass.
Our share of night to bear,
Our share of morning,
Our blank in bliss to fill,
Our blank in scorning.
Here a star, and there a star,
Some lose their way.
Here a mist, and there a mist,
Afterwards - day!
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Playing dress up: best spot for costumes
by Stephanie Tao
While using public transportation, it would be difficult not to notice the many posters, billboards and signs posing the question, "This is church?" The signs depict scenes of every day life as well as uncommon ones, like elegant ballet performances. What are these advertisements about, and how are these activities even related? It is all a part of Willow Creek Community Church.
The church, which is the largest American inter-denominational church, just began services in the heart of downtown Chicago. More than 2,000 people attended the first service on Oct. 1, a very impressive turnout for a blossoming church branch. The historically rich Auditorium Theater, 50 E. Congress Parkway, home to The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, hosts the epic Sunday Morning gatherings. This unconventional location is actually not unusual for an evangelical church as Willow Creek’s very first service in the 1970s was held at a rented movie theater in Palatine, Ill.
For the rest of the article, click on the link above.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Friday, October 13, 2006
By Chrissie Thompson
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
October 13, 2006
Church members gave 2.56 percent of their income in 2004, down from 3.11 percent in 1968, according to the last study on data analyzed by Mrs. Ronsvalle and her husband, John L. Ronsvalle. Both figures are well shy of the biblical 10 percent tithe.
Church giving increased from 1998 to 2001, recovering to early 1970s levels before decreasing to the current average.
The study also found more that 85 percent of contributions to churches funded the general operations of the local congregation, while about 15 percent went toward "benevolence," which was defined as for "the broader mission of the church, beyond the local congregation."
"Both of these numbers raise the question, 'Has the church lost its vision?' " Mrs. Ronsvalle said. "Is the church turning into a club, or does the church see itself as salt?"
Brian McAuliffe , chief financial officer and director of operations at Willow Creek Community Church, thinks increasing church attendance may cause per capita giving to decrease.
"A lot of times people who are new to churches don't understand giving back to God," he said, whose South Barrington, Ill. [sic] "It may take a couple of years before someone feels comfortable and says, 'Yes, I really believe in this, and I want to give to support that.' "
Mrs. Ronsvalle said giving began declining in the 1950s when poor Americans became a minority.
"When everyone was poor, you obviously gave. You knew that your kids were one step away from it," she said. "When we all started getting comfortable in this world ... ministers found that people weren't so excited hearing about the poor."
To read the rest of the article click on the link above.
- Time in Babylon, Stumble into Grace by Emmylou Harris
- Hawkmoon 269, Rattle and Hum by U2
- Surf Wax America, Blue Album by Weezer
- Jacksonville, Illinois by Sufjan Stevens
- Firecracker, Gold by Ryan Adams
- Kit Carson, Nothing but a Burning Light by Bruce Cockburn
- Find me in the River, The Cutting Edge by Delerious?
- I Can Feel It, Wherever you Are by Third Day
- Come Back, Take Time to Listen, Vol II (Various Artists) by Dime Store Prophets
- Just Not Urban Enough, Urban Sophisticates by Urban Sophisticates
Video pick of the week: Jacksonville by Sufjan Stevens (#4).
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Friday, October 06, 2006
- Everyman's Daughter, Good Dog Bad Dog by Over the Rhine
- World's Apart (live), Futhermore: Songs from the Stage by Jars of Clay
- Ten Little Kids, Tomorrow the Green Grass by The Jayhawks
- X&Y, X&Y by Colplay
- 3X5, Room for Squares by John Mayer
- That's Just How She Cries, Buddy and Julie Miller by Buddy and Julie Miller
- Elevation, All That You Can't Leave Behind by U2
- Life, in a Nutshell, Rock Spectacle by Barenaked Ladies
- In the Garage, Weezer (Blue Album) by Weezer
- It's up to You, Sound of Lies by The Jayhawks
Video pick of the week: In The Garage by Weezer (#9)
Thursday, October 05, 2006
Monday, October 02, 2006
Willow Creek `mega-church' has big hopes with launch of its first Chicago location
By Jeff Long
Tribune staff reporter
Published October 2, 2006
...Pamela Gomilla, an African-American woman who lives in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, entered the historic Auditorium Theatre in the Loop on Sunday not sure what to expect from a church service with roots in mostly white suburbia...
Willow Creek’s Chicago debut
Signature service draws crowd of 2,000 to Auditorium Theatre
By Ed Fanselow
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Posted Monday, October 02, 2006
...The inaugural service was the latest milestone in a whirlwind year for Willow Creek, which now counts an average weekend attendance of more than 20,000 in South Barrington and its three satellite campuses in DuPage, Lake and McHenry counties.
In January, Hybels announced that the congregation was pledging more than $1 million to fight AIDS and poverty in Africa, and in July, the church was named as the most influential in America by a popular Christian magazine.
A few weeks later, Hybels and newly recruited Willow Chicago Pastor Steve Wu inked a one-year lease with the theater, the stately Romanesque-style building at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Congress Parkway that has become one of Chicago’s most cherished landmarks since hosting its first event, the 1888 Republican National Convention.
The building’s prominence isn’t lost on Wu, who said he was looking for a hook to draw in so-called “unchurched” Chicagoans as well as 20-somethings who have moved into the city and away from their family churches and college campus worship centers.
Many there Sunday said they learned about the service from billboards in CTA buses and at el stations...
Suburban megachurch opens Chicago satellite