Wow. Willow Creek Church near Chicago is one of the wonders of the Christian world, not only for its size but for the maturity and scope of its arts ministries.
I lived in the Chicago area in the 80’s and visited Willow once or twice…even then it was a rapidly growing church. Bill Hybels and the folks there have been influential around the world, their programs and ministries assisting thousands of churches. We used their Network spiritual gifts assessment program for many years at the Indy Vineyard and saw many people– me included–get a better understanding of the spiritual gifts God had imparted to them get more focus and empowerment in their lives as a result.
Nancy Beach was involved with Willows arts ministry from the beginning , as a teenager, and has been one who has nurtured it into what it is today: powerful. Drama, worship, visual media and dance are an integral part of the experience at this church. Their relatively new auditorium has a massive stage that can accommodate theatrical sets and state of the art visual, musical and concert experiences. Its like Disneyland for any Church worship or arts pastor.
It can also be intimidating or discouraging if you come as an observer and realize how well funded organized and established they are compared to most other churches. But I wasn’t at this conference to compare. I was there to absorb and learn.
The attendance at the Wonder conference was larger then all the other arts conferences I been to combined. Around 3,000 worship and arts Pastors and leaders congregated in South Barrington, from churches all over the country and the world. These people came from a different “stream” of relationship then all the other arts conferences I’ve been to, as well. In fact, I felt like I was in sort of an alternate universe–the Willow Creek Association universe. I didn’t know one person, with the exception of Danielle’s aunt who just happened to see us walk by. I guess they don’t advertise much outside of their association. I had never heard of this conference until a friend mentioned it off-hand.
About Willow Creek and the WCA