Students Restart at BLAST

“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16 [NLT]

This weekend, while Senior Pastor Bill Hybels continues our Restart series, approximately 1,300 high school students will have their own opportunity to restart at Student Impact’s Winter Retreat: BLAST.

High schoolers at different places in their journey toward Christ will learn how God can bring true Restoration.

Bryan Jones, Director of Student Impact, explains, “Restoration is the heartbeat of the gospel. Jesus sees all that is broken or tarnished in our lives─and His heartbeat is to restore us and bring us life.”

You can help by praying earnestly about BLAST! Don’t know where to start? Here’s what the Student Impact staff requests . . .

This year, Student Impact is taking more students and leaders than ever before. Jason Petty, one of Student Impact’s Teaching Pastors, had a great first request for prayer. He asks for us to “pray for lives to be changed and also to pray that our staff and small group leaders will be encouraged by seeing how God transforms lives.

Small groups can be a great transformational time for students. That’s why Jason also asks we pray “our leaders can discern when to talk and when to listen.

Tony Sorrentino, Student Impact’s Worship Director, explains, “BLAST is a unique time that focuses on discipleship but also draws lots of new students or students who aren’t followers of Jesus. Our hope is God meets each person across that spectrum.”

With that in mind, Tony asks we pray “each student is open to hear and see exactly the word they need from God, whether a committed follower of Jesus or someone who’s never been to church.

For more ways to pray over BLAST every day, follow Student Impact on Instagram at @mystudentimpact

For a sneak peek at what goes on at BLAST, check out this powerful highlight video from last year!

Talkin’ Bout My Girl

Last weekend, our senior pastor Bill Hybels continued the Restart series. He gave us a new perspective on the power of our schedules.

He said, “My schedule should be far less about what I have to get done, than who I want to become.” He then said that our calendars can become an incredibly powerful tool God can use to help us become a “totally different person over the course of the year.” It can be as easy as writing a couple of words “in ink” on your calendar—committing yourself to concrete actions that craft who you become in 2015!

For all you dads out there, we want to encourage you to be more intentional about connecting with your kids this year. One opportunity to do that is to write two words on your calendar for February 6th, 7th, or 8th: My Girl.

My Girl is Willow Creek’s annual Father/Daughter Date Night at The Stonegate Conference & Banquet Centre in Hoffman Estates. Choose from one of three identical nights to take your daughter out for a truly memorable evening. Click through to hear more about My Girl from a handful of Willow Dads! To register right now, click here!

Ron and his 10-year old daughter Ellie will attend their fourth Daddy/Daughter Dance this year. He says My Girl offers him and his daughter a unique bonding experience: “In most of Ellie’s activities, I’m at a supportive distance. I’m in the audience when she dances or plays violin; I’m on the sidelines when she plays sports. But at date night I get to affirm and encourage her up close while we talk, dance, dine, and hold hands.”

Every year the girls are brought to the center of the dance floor and dads create a giant circle around them, singing the song My Girl. “That’s Ellie’s favorite part,” Ron says. “She enjoys sitting with her friends and watching me and the other dads sing over them while we try not to cry.”

Ron is most thankful for fathers who bring daughters who are older than Ellie. He’ll never forget the night Ellie asked him, “Dad, will you still bring me to the dance when I’m older?” He gladly replied, “Yes, absolutely!” He remembers Ellie smiling and saying “Good. That will be fun.”

Ron says, “Ellie and I know we don’t do one-on-one activities enough, so attending My Girl is simply a must.”

Guarantee that you and your daughter have a special evening this year and register for My Girl here!

To get a sneak peek at My Girl and hear from more dads and daughters, click here and preview the video at the bottom of this page!

Let’s Restart Together!

Last weekend, we began our brand new series Restart—the perfect opportunity for each of us to jump start our year and recalibrate our priorities and relationships.

Steve Carter shared that only 8% of the people who make a New Year’s resolution keep it! Therefore, we’re offering practical tools that can help you achieve your goals for 2015. Maybe you’re hoping this will be the year your new faith in Christ really takes off—or you finally decide to tackle your finances. Those are great goals! But like you, we don’t want to just talk about them. Click through to learn more about the specific steps we offer to help ensure 2015 will be a radically transformative year.

Financial Peace University January 14–March 11
Make a wise investment in your new year by signing up for the winter session of Financial Peace University. Via DVD, you’ll hear best-selling author and speaker Dave Ramsey share time-tested biblical principles that will help you beat debt and build financial security. Small group interaction follows so you can learn how to put those principles to work for you.

In just nine weeks at our last FPU session, participants were able to set aside an average of $4,000 to pay down debt and save for emergencies! Ryan Kaczmarek, our Stewardship Pastor, said that session was an important reminder that “financial planning is a key part of a Christ-follower’s emotional and spiritual health.”

In addition to helping with debt and financial security, Ryan says the University also helps those who are current on their payments but can’t seem to save—or give—like they want. “If that’s you,” he says, “sign up today. This class has changed the way millions of people manage every part of their finances. You will not regret investing nine weeks to significantly alter the trajectory of your financial future.”

To learn more and register, click here.

I’ve Decided to Follow Jesus . . . Now What? January 14–March 4

Is 2015 your first year as a follower of Jesus? Excited but not quite sure how to move forward? This new eight week class was designed for you! Please join us to learn the basics of your new relationship with Jesus, connect with small group communities at Willow, and learn how to keep your relationship with Him strong long after the sessions are over with!

Kellye Fabian, Willow Creek’s Now What? teacher, believes this course is highly relevant to new believers. She shares, “I can’t wait to give you practical tools and tips that will help you step fully into the life God has invited you to have with Him.”

You’ll learn what it means to find your identity in Christ, how to pray, handle temptation, endure suffering, and cultivate Christ-centered relationships. Kellye describes the experience this way: “We tackle topics most of us wonder about in the silent, alone moments of our lives—and do it in a relaxed, non-threatening setting that allows everyone to engage.”

To register for Now What?, click here.

If you are interested in taking next steps in other area’s, there are many other opportunities—Click here for more information.

Hit Restart This Weekend

What kind of year was 2014 for you? Whether 2014 was great, difficult, or just routine, the start of 2015 provides the perfect opportunity to restart—to freshly recalibrate our priorities and relationships.

Join us this weekend, January 3 & 4, for a daring brand new series to discover a newfound sense of who we are in Christ and to start fresh on what he wants to do through us. The teaching team has been praying and brainstorming for months over how to best kick-off 2015. The result? Restart!

Teaching Pastor Steve Carter said that throughout their preparation, “God led us to
profound stories from the scriptures that remind us of who we are and who we can be—and that will be the foundation of this series.”

This weekend, Steve will help us uncover the beauty inside the command of Romans 12:2: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” He explains, “We all have familiar thought patterns that hold us back from becoming all we can be. I want to spend time unpacking how to renew our minds so we can create healthy and sustainable patterns in 2015.”

Week two (January 10 & 11) of the Restart series will give us a fresh perspective on time management. Until then, take a look at your calendar, and ask yourself: Do my days feel draining, or empowering? This piece of the Restart series will set you up with a way to structure your schedule so that you feel liberated, not imprisoned.

“If you’re like me,” Steve says, ”the New Year provides the perfect opportunity to recalibrate priorities and relationships. During this series, we’ll be doing exactly that!”

Promiseland, Elevate, and Student Impact will also be launching their 2015 programs. So parents—bring your children to kick-off the new year right!

The first decisions and commitments we make in 2015 can set the stage for our entire year. Start it off by deciding to join us this weekend—to Restart with a fresh vision and sense of purpose. Another decision you can make is inviting a friend, neighbor, or family member who might also benefit from a Restart. You will be glad you took the risk!

This Christmas, See the Light

This Friday marks a highlight of our winter season as Christmas services begin at Willow! Like huddling around a bright and blazing fireplace for warmth, in just a few days many will gather at Willow Creek’s South Barrington campus to remember and celebrate the True Light of the World. For all the details, as well as tools to help you invite your friends and family, click here − and if you’d like a compelling sneak-peek of what’s in store, click through for a video and a fun conversation with Willow Creek’s Creative Director, Blaine Hogan!

Blaine shares that there are some powerful special effects coming our way, and he is eager for them to bring life to the Christmas story. But he’s quick to point out they aren’t for oohhs and aahhs. They only serve to unfold the glorious story behind Christmas.

“We always seek to create spectacular moments based on scripture,” Blaine explains. “In the Christmas story, we’ve got two visits from an angel, and a dream that Joseph experiences—that’s some fun fodder to work with!”

As the creative process unfolded, Blaine found himself worshipping God as the creative Author of Salvation, someone whose creativity is vast enough to make regular people and places spectacular.

“I’m reminded just how moving this story is: two young, super non-famous kids, chosen by God, to carry out one of the most important missions in history is a tall order,” Blaine says. “The fact that God chose a group of so very normal and ordinary people is a true testament to how much God wants us to see the unseen.”

Blaine can barely contain his excitement about the original music written for this year’s celebration. He says, “To know people from all over the world will be taking in the Christmas story while listening to music created by our own artists is really an amazing thing!”