The Celebration Continues

Baptisms last weekend, the final installment of Unwavering this weekend, and Easter next weekend—the celebration continues!

Teaching Pastor Steve Carter brings the Unwavering series home this weekend with a final message on the life of Nehemiah. Then Senior Pastor Bill Hybels and the programming team gear up for five identical Easter services the following weekend:

  • 1:30, 4, and 7 p.m., Saturday, April 4
  • 9 and 11:45 a.m., Sunday, April 5

Give your family, friends, and co-workers a heads-up today. Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus is a profound experience that has the potential to change lives. It’s worthy of every ounce of our invitation-giving efforts. For service details, click here.

Get a sneak peek at what’s in store from Nick Benoit, creative director for this year’s Easter services.

“This year during Easter services, we’ll be retelling the life of Peter, a disciple of Jesus,” says Nick. “Peter’s story is everyone’s story.”  “He’s hard at work, feeling the burdens of life we all feel, thinking today will be just like every other day. Yet in an instant, Jesus invites him to the radical, holy ambition of being one of His closest friends and a ‘fisher of men.’”

Like each of us, Peter had his hang-ups. He wasn’t great at relationships. He lied and betrayed Jesus; yet Jesus astounded Peter with His grace, gave him a second chance, and offered him another life-changing invitation: “Follow Me.”

“Peter’s story of acceptance despite failure provides hope for all of us,” Nick says. “We’ve all made mistakes, and many of them seem so terrible we can’t imagine God would ever want anything to do with us. But He does. And that’s a message we all need to hear.”

Nick hopes this highly relatable story will encourage people to extend Easter invitations to everyone they know: neighbors, co-workers, family, friends—even strangers.

“Through Peter’s eyes, we’re able to revisit all the grand, earth-shaking moments of the Easter story while allowing those moments to feel personal, real, and relevant,” Nick says. “Our team will be posting thoughts and behind-the-scenes photos on Twitter and Instagram using hashtag #WillowEaster, and we’d love for everyone to join the conversation. Let those who follow you see why you’re looking forward to Easter at Willow this year.”

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One Church, Eight Locations

Senior Pastor Bill Hybels continued the series Unwavering last weekend with a high-challenge vision: “I want Willow to be a church where everybody gets out of the spectator stands, puts on their work gloves and boots, and does something for the glory of God.”

This vision doesn’t just apply to our South Barrington congregation. Willow gathers at eight regional locations in Chicagoland, and Bill’s vision extends to each one. “Our regional congregations exhibit a true ‘work gloves and boots’ commitment to furthering God’s kingdom in their local communities,” says Heather Larson, Willow’s executive pastor. Three regionals—Casa de Luz (Willow’s Spanish-speaking community), Huntley, and South Lake—are great examples of the catalytic growth that occurs when everyone takes Bill’s challenge seriously.

Learn about the breakthroughs these regional churches are experiencing as they model “the power of everybody.”

Willow Creek Huntley

This February, Willow Creek Huntley launched a second Sunday morning service.  More than 900 people now fill the Huntley auditorium each week at 9 and 11 a.m.

“From the very start, the vision of Willow Huntley has been to create community—a place people can call home,” says Lead Pastor Todd Katter. “This culture of a ‘church family’ is contagious! People invite their friends and family—and they come back because they sense something special going on here and they want to be a part of it.”

Todd says being a part of the Willow Creek Huntley church family fosters a community that supports each other. “Huntley rallied together at a new level for the launch of our second service,” he says. “More than one hundred new people stepped up to volunteer! God is working powerfully in the hearts of His people and it’s a privilege to have a front row seat.”

Follow Willow Creek Huntley on Facebook and Twitter

South Lake

Viper Alley doesn’t sound like a church location—but this Lincolnshire concert and event venue is where Willow Creek’s newest regional, Willow South Lake, launched its first Midweek service on March 4 with a message series aptly named Be Part of the Start.

“Starting in a theatre—just like South Barrington did 40 years ago at the Willow Creek Theatre in Palatine—is really exciting for our new church,” says Lead Pastor Matt Wright. “I love hearing people say ‘These are the theatre days!’ They’re right. We’re in a season we will look back on and never forget.”

“One of the best parts of this experience is seeing so many people diving in to serve,” Matt says. “There is so much to be done, and we love inviting everyone to get in the game. It’s exciting to see God building something beautiful through this community of people.”

The core group of South Lake members brought their friends to the launch—and those friends are already inviting their friends to check out a South Lake service. “The energetic look on everyone’s faces speaks volumes,” Matt says. “They wholeheartedly believe this part of Chicagoland desperately needs a thriving, welcoming church.”

Follow Willow South Lake on Facebook and Twitter

Casa de Luz

Casa de Luz, Willow’s Spanish-speaking congregation, gathers for an all-Spanish service in Willow’s Chapel every Sunday morning at 11:15 a.m.—and it’s standing-room only.

“That’s why we’re adding a 9 a.m. pilot service on March 22,” says Lead Pastor Juan Guillén. “We’ve seen God move in the lives of so many individuals and families. I’m excited about the potential for growth with this new service.”

March 22 also marks the start of Casa Café, a coffee venue located in Room B100 (beneath the Chapel), which will offer 31 flavors of coffee. “Volunteers have already stepped up to serve there,” says Juan. “They’re eager to help our first 9 a.m. service be a celebration of our thriving Casa de Luz community.”

Also, this past weekend, 88 Casa de Luz volunteer leaders graduated from Casa’s six-month course designed to equip them for leadership opportunities with Casa. “I’m amazed by our leadership core,” Juan says, “They’re committed to giving their all toward the success of the new 9 a.m. service.”

Follow Casa de Luz on Facebook and Twitter 

Read the latest about what God is doing at Willow’s other regional congregations in Chicago, Crystal Lake, DuPage, and North Shore:

Chicago: http://www.willowcreek.org/chicago
Crystal Lake: http://www.willowcreek.org/crystallake
DuPage: http://www.willowcreek.org/dupage
Northshore: http://www.willowcreek.org/northshore

Hundreds of Lives Changed

This weekend Senior Pastor Bill Hybels continues the series Unwavering: A Story of Obedience, followed by a church-wide celebration during the service: Baptism.

Every person’s Baptism continues their story of obedience to God—and it’s never too late to take this pivotal step in your spiritual journey. If you haven’t been baptized since becoming a Christ follower, click here to learn more about this weekend.

Willow’s student ministries, Elevate and Student Impact, join us in the Main Auditorium this weekend, which adds to the excitement. Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate hundreds of people of all ages coming up out of the waters of Baptism and marking a fresh start through faith in Christ. Bring a friend, coworker, or family member for a service they won’t soon forget.

Full Circle: An Inspiring Story of Baptism

Jeff became a follower of Christ last spring through Alpha—a series of interactive sessions at Willow for those exploring the big issues of life, such as purpose, meaning, and faith.  He decided to be baptized last summer and then dove right back into Alpha for its next session in the fall—this time, assisting one of the discussion facilitators.

During Alpha’s winter session, he not only became a facilitator with a group of his own, but four people in his group decided they wanted to be baptized this spring. “I was so excited when they told me,” Jeff says. “The beautiful thing is, each of them come from completely different places in life: one woman in her 40s, one grandmother and her 16-year-old grandson, and a 19-year-old girl. And this weekend, they join one family of faith. I’m telling you, nothing beats watching God change peoples’ lives!”

Check out this video for another powerful story behind a recent Baptism at Willow.

Join in the Mayhem

EuroBungy. Dodgeball. Laser tag. Bumper balls. Karaoke. Live comedy from Comedy Sportz. Inflatables. Pizza. Soda. And hundreds of junior high students.

At 7 p.m. this Friday, March 6, the doors of Willow Creek’s South Barrington campus open and more than 2,000 junior high students pour in to experience Elevate’s biggest outreach event of the year: Pineapple Mayhem.

“It’s crazy and fun in all the best ways,” says Elevate Director Scott Rubin. “We strategically create this event so junior high students can invite friends who don’t normally come to church. And every year, many of them come back to Elevate for a regular weekend service where they encounter the God who loves them.”

Pineapple Mayhem is a powerful “front door” for junior high students, but Elevate could never pull it off without help from 350 Willow volunteers. “It’s a fantastic event for the whole Willow family,” Scott says.

Here’s how you can join the mayhem.

“Pineapple Mayhem is a great ‘first serve’ at Willow because it’s so much fun,” says Mary Mayo, who manages operations for Elevate. “You meet wonderful fellow volunteers—it takes a ton of them to uphold our standards of safety and ensure every student has a fantastic experience.”

Sign up by midnight tonight!

Two-thirds of the students who attend Pineapple Mayhem are visiting Willow for the first time, so volunteers hold unique positions of influence. Each volunteer is screened and a short training is provided before the night begins.

“We still need 30 volunteers to serve at security posts or as game/event supervisors,” Scott says. “Volunteering is easy—and it’s fun! We’re hoping first-time students walk out Friday night thinking, ‘That place was full of really friendly adults who seemed glad I was here.’”

Today is the final day to sign up. 

“Year after year, we see this event make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of junior high students,” Scott says. “Pray our students will be bold in inviting their friends this week and that God will do something remarkable in the lives of every student who is there.”

Get a glimpse of last year’s Pineapple Mayhem!

It’s Business and Personal

In a few short days, Senior Pastor Bill Hybels will launch a new message series titled Unwavering: A Story of Obedience, which explores the biblical story of an ordinary man who made an extraordinary impact in God’s kingdom.

“I’m tremendously excited about this series,” Bill says, “because this individual was a phenomenal leader with an intensely personal relationship with God. Studying his life is like having a front-row seat in a class at the Harvard Business School. His story of obedience is filled with leadership goldmines.”

Who is this man? Click here to learn more—and see a promo video you’ll want to share with your friends and co-workers.

“The main character in this series was neither prophet, priest, nor king,” says Bill. “Rather, he was a normal, working-class man from the Old Testament whose life was comfortable and predictable.”

His name? Nehemiah. And when he learned his beloved hometown, Jerusalem, had been decimated by Israel’s enemies, he was heartbroken. Yet God whispered—and Nehemiah’s mission commenced.

Whether you’re the CEO of a major corporation or the CEO of your family, you lead. “And we can all get better as leaders,” Bill says. “This high-challenge series is applicable to every single person who walks through our doors—and every weekend has the potential to rock your leadership world. Don’t miss out.”

Who will you invite? Put these five weekends in ink on your calendars—and prayerfully consider who you can bring to hear this life-changing series. Your friends, neighbors, and co-workers will be glad you included them in your plans.

Check out the promo video here—and spread the word about Unwavering among your social media circles.

You can maximize your spiritual growth and insight from the Unwavering messages by signing up to receive Unwavering devotionals in your inbox each morning, Monday–Friday throughout the series. Each devotional includes Scripture, some biblical context, and challenging questions to augment your personal “chair time” with God. Sign up here.