Thursday, July 13, 2017
The Roots of Willow Creek
I’m still on a project of going through my apologetics file cabinet and cleaning out obsolete materials (it’s an arduous process). This morning I came across a paper on which I typed this:
The following information is from notes gleaned circa 1990 from a television show about the Willow Creek Church. The program extolled the virtues of this “church.”
The paper had tear-off edges with holes that fed through the old Epson printer I had when I first moved to Iowa in December 1995 but got rid of within a year. So apparently I had found my notes and wanted to type them to keep on file on the old floppy disc.
At any rate, I thought I’d share what the TV program (a “news magazine” in the Chicago area) had to say about Willow Creek, which was fairly new in their huge facility at the time, to show the bad ideological seeds which were sown for this mega-church.
Bill Hybels did a door-to-door survey to find why people stay away from church, and that resulted in Willow Creek. People need to be entertained, anonymous, and considered as guests.
Service is calibrated, choreographed. Opening like a variety show. Audience enjoys the performance. Each “show” takes three weeks to write and rehearse.
Worship is safe, controlled, comfortable. No strict emphasis on rigid morality.
“Our target” is the “marketplace person . . . Corporate culture.”
Culturally respectable, blends into surrounding environment.
Sophisticated packaging: Music, then mini-drama.
The building was designed to be inoffensive -- no religious symbols so as to frighten or intimidate people. Looks like a corporate office complex.
Free market means competition to draw the crowd.
The pastors are called the “Management team.” The program is called a “product.”
Yuppies are corporate people so you have to make them feel at home. Packaged orthodoxy; everything is corporate language. Marketplace person needs marketplace terminology.
“Post Christian” culture needs addressed as a separate culture. “Demand a catering to popular tastes.”
People need respectability and recognition; being part of a “big success story” at Willow Creek. It’s reassuring to be a part of it: “Our church is bigger than anybody else.”
During this time of my life I was attending an LCMS Lutheran Church and my apologetics ministry was probably 95% about cults, while I was just beginning to study the Word of Faith stuff. A fellow controller attended Willow Creek, and through him was the first I heard of the place. However, it was difficult to believe he was a Christian because of his behavior and worldview, so when that TV show was advertised I wanted to watch it to see what W.C. was all about. And watching that show explained everything about my co-worker. I was shocked that such a “church” existed, and from then on I started studying more and more non-cult false teachings and false teachers.
Willow Creek’s philosophy has only gotten worse over the years, as they have spread their ideology across the country. Bad seed has grown very rotten fruit.