Willow Creek Community Church describes itself as a megachurch, meaning that it is large community with satellite congregations. It belongs to the evangelical movement and has a strong outreach ministry that aims to bring the gospel to excluded groups. It associates with other evangelical churches in outreach ministry through the Willow Creek Association.
An evangelical church
Beginnings Pastor Bill Hybels and David Holmbro established Willow Creek community church in 1975 as they were inspired by the powerful youth ministry of South Park Church and wished to emulate it. They wanted to use music and drama to attract the young and those who felt excluded by other churches. Willowcreek Church first met in 1975 in Willow Creek theatre, Illinois, but soon outgrew its home. Since then, it has expanded its worshiping centres as people attending services have increased. Megachurch In American evangelical usage, this denotes a church with satellite congregations. There are six of them spread around the Chicago region where the church is based. It is part of the broader evangelical movement. This means that it supports the orthodox Christian position that Jesus is the Son of God crucified for sins and raised from the dead to become saviour of humankind, and that access to his salvation comes through faith and baptism. Mission The church believed that it was important to take risks to spread the gospel. This meant that it aimed at those groups in America who felt excluded from Christianity. A strong outreach ministry was developed trying to reach excluded and non-religious groups. This has included charitable and evangelistic works.
The church has a sophisticated system of services which divide into five age groups: promiseland, elevate, student impact, axis and main service, age and maturity. The content and style of services are shaped by the age and spiritual needs of each group. In its latest building, it has employed large screens to enable all participants in the congregation to see and hear the preacher. It has three services every Sunday and there are Wednesday classes. The church is governed according to a standard evangelical model. At the head are the teaching pastors who sit on the board of governance along with elders [senior members of the congregation elected by the church] and other officials. Below them are the leadership team. The church participates in Willow Creek Association, an interdenominational group combining many evangelical churches that co-operate in leadership training and ministry in the wider society as a whole. This group publishes a magazine and has a media operation.