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"The next church . . . constitutes, its champions believe, a distinctly American reformation of church life, one that transcends denominations and the bounds of churchly behavior."

-- Charles Trueheart, "The Next Church" (The Atlantic Monthly, August 1996)

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Listen to excerpts from a sermon and
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Willow Creek
"The churches are remarkable chiefly for their size. Many of these (mostly Protestant) congregations count thousands of people in attendance on a weekend -- in some cases more than 10,000. For their hugeness they are known, and often chagrined to be known, as megachurches." Above right: Willow Creek Church's twentieth anniversary celebration at the United Center in Chicago

"IT is not accidental that the latest generation of large churches, with their huge auditoriums and balconied atriums, some with food courts and fountains, resemble secular gathering places. (Banks and colleges used to build their buildings to look like Gothic cathedrals). Walking into a church like Mariners, or Willow Creek, one can easily imagine oneself in a corporate headquarters or a convention hotel."

willow creek
The Willow Creek "Campus"

  • The campus covers 145 acres.
  • There are 2,676 parking spaces.
  • The building covers 352,000 square feet.
  • The main auditorium seats 4,550 and is outfitted with a high-capacity sound system, a computer-controlled theatrical lighting system, and a closed-circuit television system.
  • The activity center contains three basketball courts and four volleyball courts.
  • The facilities also include a 3,000 square-foot bookstore, 50 classroom-sized rooms, dozens of rooms for smaller groups, and locker rooms.
    (From the "Willow Creek Fact Sheet," copyright Willow Creek Community Church).

How does Willow Creek reconcile its basic spiritual goals with its emphasis on such worldly phenomena as marketing and multimedia display?

How will Willow Creek respond to the aging of its target audience, the Baby Boom generation?

How does Willow Creek approach such controversial social and political issues as abortion and homosexuality?

Pastor Bill Hybels addresses these and other questions in Commonly Asked Questions About Willow Creek Community Church.

The Recovery Channel

This advertisement for an addiction recovery workshop at The Fellowship of Las Colinas reads, "If you struggle with issues of control or are affected by any challenging habit or condition, then you won't want to miss this biblical response to recovery."

Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly.
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