Over the Summer we had a preaching series on “Heroes of the Faith”. I spoke about the influence that Bill Hybels, the leader of Willow Creek Community Church. (You can listen to the sermon below).
The extent of the influence is demonstrated by looking at the 8 values of Willow Creek, I would hope we would hold them all!
- Lost people matter to God, they therefore matter to us
Willow Creek started as an outreach ministry and are still organised and give priority to those who do not yet have a personal relationship with Jesus. I guess this was one of the things that drew me to Bill in the first place. I too felt called to help the church become relevant to those who have not been brought up in the church.
2. Fighting injustice and working for peace. Living out Jesus mandate makes church complicated, but it is a price worth paying.
Willow Creek is involved in an amazing number of mercy ministries in the US and across the world. In their context they are accused of being political which doesn’t endear them to everyone. Too a lesser extent this is true for us. We have a growing ministry “Good News to the Community” which seeks to live out Jesus mandate. No doubt this will expand.
3. Radically inclusive, reaching all nations, ages and social backgrounds.
The Willow Creek story is like ours, starting out as predominantly a white church middle class church it has purposely sought to broaden its base and is now a fully integrated community. We have been on the same journey.
4. Becoming fully devoted followers of Christ. 95% not enough.
Just going to church on a Sunday is not enough, the whole of our lives need to be devoted to following Jesus.
5. Women and men serve according to spiritual gifts
Willow Creek would have a different emphasis on spiritual gifts than we have, but the principle that God has given each of his follower’s gifts of grace that we should use in the service of Him is something we would have in common.
6. Steward resources wisely and generously, it is part of discipleship.
This is something that I recently realised we had not been emphasising enough. We need to be talking about stewardship as individuals and as a church. How we use our resources is a true sign of where our hearts are.
7. Gather regularly for worship, teaching and prayer.
In a context where there are so many different demands on our time maybe we should be giving a greater focus on encouraging people to give a priority to gathering as the people of God midweek and on Sunday’s. This is something that Willow Creek have realised they need to do.
8. Dependant on and courageously obedient on the Holy Spirit
For a church that is not known as a Charismatic Church Willow Creek and Bill Hybels have emphasised the need to rely on the Holy Spirit in a way that would surprise many. We would want to echo that focus, we must depend on the Holy Spirit and be courageously dependant on the Holy Spirit.