Thanks for all your comments on “Willow Creek and postmodern worship”, and for your honesty. it is obvious that there is real tension between large church structures and the emerging organic structures of church. It was helpful to let those feelings to the surface, as well as to land on a place where we can all respect other.
Now that is behind us, lets take another look at megachurch.
It has become fashionable to beat up on the megachurches, especially those that are no longer growing numerically (a failure by their own measurement, not ours) but still teaching others. i am hoping that we can all see the positive contributions that mega churches have made, as see our own history mirrored in their story.
As I mentioned a few days ago, I see Willow Creek as having make some giant steps for emerging church – digitizing and layering the worship elements, and breaking us free from having to host service on Sundays. In fact, the reason for starting up Willow Creek had more to do with building church around the unchurched than around the believers, who were flexible.
I visited Saddleback Valley in Caifornia in the 90’s. I also took my family to Willow Creek in Barrington, IL in 1999. My kids loved the children’s church so much that we had to return the next week. Its really a great and historical church. It marks an era on our history where the church made a mark. I hope it stays where it is and how it is so that some of you can also experience it.
I also attended a Wiilow Creek confernce for pastors in 1991. It was GREAT and we were inspired. They did a good job with drama and brought taboo issues, including sex, onto the stage. Right after the conference, i started “Sunday Nite Live” at the Baptist Church i was pastoring in Australia and it was heavily influenced by the conference. More grungy, of course, than Willow. Those were good times, even though it was exhausting to put on such a service each Sunday.
Another reason we need the large churches. If it were not for these large churches, many of my colleagues out here would have to return home. When I was in Chicago, Mark Soederquist took me to see a converted Masonic Lodge that had become a youth center. Apparently Willow Creek had written a huge check so they could buy the building. They can support large projects and cover the backs of missionaries in ways that our small organic churches cannot.
Future collaboration with emerging church? I was thinking about this last week, while attending Hillsong London. The shape of emerging church is modular rather than singular, which means we will probably find ourselves inside their world more often than they venture into ours.
They have resources and buildings and we often dont.
More later – i have to go now . . .