Look closer. Think harder. Choose the sound argument over the clever one.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Willow Creek Chicago Kick-Off

Willow Creek Community Church kicked off their Chicago congregation this morning. We decided to check it out. They met downtown at Roosevelt University's Auditorium Theater.

It was very Willow: huge, pretty polished, pretty well organized. Seems to be a mega-church in the making. What you'd expect from Willow Creek (and I mean that in a good way, though a mega-church isn't our cup of tea).

The auditorium was packed. We wound up in the 3rd balcony--the main floor and first two balconies were out of space. Our level eventually filled up, too.

They did kind of a music/dramatic-monologue, singing Bring Me to Life and talking about learning to feel again. I thought it was pretty powerful, but I was taking in the whole experience at the same time (huge crowd, cool to see what God's doing, that kind of thing).

Bill Hybels gave the message. He had a lot of good things to say. The topic: "Is this church?" (A question both we and God ask.) When he came out, before he said his first word, he got a standing ovation from about a fifth of the auditorium. I thought that was a bit strange. I suppose they know him and like him. I know him a little (and like him).

The worship team was ethnically diverse. They're clearly making an attempt at creating a service that's welcoming to a broad range of city dwellers, but the music had a Willow Creek feel (i.e., mainstream suburbia). My wife thinks it will be interesting to see if the worship team is able to fully engage multiple cultures into worship for the long haul.

These pictures are lousy, but might give you a tiny glimpse. They're taken from our seats.

Welcome to the city, Willow! Though I think the last thing this world needs is yet another church, the first thing it needs is another community of people reaching out to others, loving one another, and following Jesus.

P.S.: Sunday, October 15th Bill Hybels interviews U2's Bono. (Update: By the way, I think it's a videocast, and I don't think it's live.)

One more impression: the service didn't go as long as I expected it to, but is that just my perception?


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