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Shutdown Season: Willow Creek Community Church Will Close its Doors for the Summer

Category: Church
Willow Creek to close for summer

SOUTH BARRINGTON, IL – In perhaps the most extreme example to date of churches halting ministries during the traditionally slower summer months, Willow Creek Community Church – one of America’s prototypical mega-churches – has decided to close its doors until after Labor Day.

“The church leadership took a look at where attendance and giving were last summer, and when you look at the numbers, the case for closing shop just makes a lot of sense,” said Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels. “For years we’ve been trying to justify the expense of operating throughout the summer when schools are closed and people are on vacation. We just couldn’t do it any more. If people are going to put their spiritual growth on hold until September anyway, why should the church fight it?”

While weekly services and other regular ministries have all been canceled, some special, summer-specific programs like summer camps will still go on as scheduled.

“It’s not like the church will be disappearing off the face of the earth,” said Church Administrator David Widener. “We’re still having the big Third Day concert, along with any other events that traditionally bring in a good amount of money. Plus we’ll still have a pastor on call at all times just in case anyone has a spiritual need that absolutely can’t wait until September.”

While many churches have been putting Bible studies, choirs and other portions of regular church life on the back burner during the summer for years, this may be the first example of a church scheduling a complete shutdown.

“I see this as part of a trend of church attendance as we know it taking a serious dip around the world, and not just during the summer months,” said Robert Holmes, president of the Center for the Study of World Religion – a London-based religion think tank. “With so many media options out there for people to get their spiritual enlightenment, the practice of church attendance is in real trouble. Mark my words. This is a harbinger.”

Not surprisingly, Hybels doesn’t see it that way.

Hybels
Hybels is planning on 6 weeks in Tahiti

“Willow Creek has been setting trends for the rest of the evangelical community for decades,” he said. “When we started changing the way we do worship and outreach, you had people acting like it was the end of the world. Now they’re all doing the same things. This is going to strengthen our church. The money we save by shutting down over the summer will go toward reaching people for Christ during the rest of the year. When other churches see how this benefits us, shutting down for the summer will soon become as common as church names that have nothing to do with God or Christianity.”

Josh Allen – a 13-year-old who regularly attends Willow Creek with his parents – is on Hybels’ side.

“No more hymnals. No more pews. No more sermons to make me snooze,” Allen rhymed with glee. “I’ll see you at the pool!”

But not all Willow Creekers share Allen’s enthusiasm.

“We had skits rehearsed and ready to go for every Sunday in the summer,” said Willow Creek Drama Team Leader Leah Cress. “Now all that work is completely worthless. It’s not gonna make much sense to perform a theatrical representation of the importance of beach evangelism in the dead of winter, now is it?”

Despite the detractors, Widener is almost giddy about the concept of saying a fond farewell to summer services.

“No more bloated air conditioning bills for a room that’s only half full,” he said, eyes gleaming. “All that money being saved for God’s kingdom and not being wasted on a scant congregation that would rather be on vacation anyway. It’s a beautiful thing.”

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  1. I am shocked, dismayed and saddened by the news that Willow Creek is shutting down for the summer.

    I fear that Bill Hybels comments:

    “Willow Creek has been setting trends for the rest of the evangelical community for decades,” he said. “When we started changing the way we do worship and outreach, you had people acting like it was the end of the world. Now they’re all doing the same things. This is going to strengthen our church. The money we save by shutting down over the summer will go toward reaching people for Christ during the rest of the year. When other churches see how this benefits us, shutting down for the summer will soon become as common as church names that have nothing to do with God or Christianity.”

    more accurately reflect trends of the world, not the church.

    There is a church in Uganda that has 5000 members – they have 500 intercessors who meet 7 days a week to pray for Uganda (250 from 6am – 6pm, and 250 from 6pm – 6am). They pray for healings, pray for Jesus to reign in Uganda. They have nothing – they meet out doors, but people are getting saved, they are getting healed. They love God. They are trying to raise money to build a church…. I pray that they never build a church if at some point they would become like Willow Creek.

    You proudly display a comment from a 13 year old boy – Josh Allen – who is delighted to have the summer off. His comment should have you on your knees in repentance.

  2. This is frightening. I can’t believe a church would do this.

  3. What is the date on this??? This never happened!!! It’s just lies from the pit of hell!

  4. I believe that this action would grieve the heart of God! I never heard a preacher say that its a waste of money to cool a room that is partially filled with church members and sinners. The Bible says that the angels in heaven rejoice when ONE soul comes to Christ, so why have the leaders of this church chosen to only rejoice, praise, worship, learn about God’s statues, reach the lost and teach God’s holy word, ONLY when the masses can attend?

    What if God took seasonal vacations and decided not to wake you up or not to give you the activities of your limbs because there are more “sinners in the summer”? I just saying what if God made excuses? Running the church like a business negates the fact that the church is for worship, healing, encouragement, salvation and guidance. If people can’t turn to the church, where can they go?

  5. This did not happen. As a member of this church I can tell you that the church never planned on closing. Bill never vacationed in Tahiti but prepared for the Leadership Summit as usual. And I attended services the entire summer of 2009. Whoever published this was irresponsible.

  6. It is hard to believe a Christian would believe Willow Creek is closing for the summer. I attend Willow Creek and every summer, every Saturday and Sunday, the church is packed with over 5000 people at each of the services. If you attend Willow Creek, you will know Bill Hybels would NEVER make those comments.

  7. Brothers and Sisters…thus is a SATIRE web site! C’mon, friends, don’t lose your funny bone–even our Lord could create an amusing picture of a camel going thru a needle! Read the other stories here…lots of laughs if you’re willing to stop taking yourself so seriously.

  8. Are you kidding me right now? Do you people really believe this stuff that is written here? It is called satire.

  9. hey guess what!?
    this is satire.

  10. I read through this and couldn’t believe what I was reading. First and foremost, I couldn’t believe–because I KNEW BETTER, as I serve in Guest Ministry, and believe me, we NEVER had any time off…PERIOD, let alone a whole summer!

    Having said that, I am one who looks for the fine print–and when I DID, I clicked on and read the “DISCLAIMER” at the bottom of the page. There is states that none of this is true. I do not care WHAT the reasons are for publishing an article like this, it is UNHOLY! Joking or not, there are people who are not going to search for the “fine print” at the bottom of this page, and therefore will believe what they have read–especially coming from a site that is named the “HOLY Observer.” “Holy,” by definition, is to be “Set apart to God.” There is nothing about this article that is “set apart to God,” quite the contrary! Sadly, there are so many people in this world who are naive & gullible (i.e. trusting) who are taken advantage of by people who put everything in “fine print” at the bottom or back of a contract. Or they hide in in the “Terms and Conditions” of a web site where they are so long and in “legal mumbo jumbo” where most cannot even understand it if they tried. I find all such stuff very DECEIVING. Sadly, the Holy Observer has adopted the ways of the world to promote a hoax. You should focus more of your energy on promoting the TRUTH and reaching those who are lost (i.e. without Christ), poor, hungry, etc….just like Willow Creek does. Ask yourselves these questions, “Is this something that Christ Himself would do…even if He had the time to do so?” “Could you see the apostle Paul writing something like this, and then having it circulated among Churches…only to have a small fine print “disclaimer” on some other page, saying that it was all just a joke?” If not, then why would YOU do it? Christ said that there is only ONE person/spirit that likes to mix the truth with a lie…Satan himself! Only he promotes half-truths like this. He is the Great Deceiver!

    Please remove this page at once. It is UNHOLY It serves no purpose other than to DECEIVE others–mostly other believers at that, as they are the only ones who would even care about something like this! Do you REALLY think that’s funny? I will likewise forward this on to the Willow Creek Board of Directors.

  11. This is a date to be recorded in history. That the enemy has blinded this Pastor into justifying an act that is so horrible and a tragedy to his church. The bible tell us that believer are to fellowship with one another. So I guess his members are out of luck until after labor day. I thank God I’m not a member of this apparently fallen church. May God be merciful to this leader that’s lost his way.

  12. Hello! This is satire!!! Willow Creek will not shut their doors. Stop taking this site seriously. Have a laugh. Sure looks like you need it.

  13. I agree 100% with Holly – the story is 100% Bulls**t !! To prove it, go onto Willowcreek’s website. At the top of the homepage on the right side, you’ll click ‘media player’. Check out their archive Hybels preached on 28-June-09, and came back from hiatus 12-Sept-09. The Church was open and had guest speakers or our Teaching Pastor, Darren on every week-end. Now that I have proven this site is not credible, I’m wondering what their REAL purpose is (?).

  14. I have no idea where you got the information that Willow Creek was shutting down for the summer. i have been going to mid-week services and week-end services ALL SUMMER long, just like I have for the last 20 summers. Where in the world did you get this mis-information???
    My husband and I have been members of Willow Creek for 20 years and the church has NEVER shut down. Believe me, because we’ve been there!

  15. Ya…I’ve gone to Willow since I was in kindergarten and this NEVER HAPPENED. In fact, this summer had a special program called Summer At The Creek where besides having normal Saturday and Sunday services, they also had Wednesday services and weeknight classes. You can check their website. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
    The quote is inaccurate too. If you are in Junior High than you can choose to go too Elevate (elev8.com) the extremely fun and exciting Junior HIgh ministry. And we don’t have pews or hymnals.
    And lastly, whenever Bill goes to somewhere other than Wisconsin, it’s for evangelical or social justice work. Which, judging by your website, is more than I can say for you.

    And to all you Creekers; remember:
    Haters gonna Hate
    But we forgive them

    CUZ THATS WHAT CHRISTIANS DO! 😀

  16. One of the main goals of the church is probably conserving what little money they have during these hard times. This may be one big reasons they are closing for the summer.

  17. THIS IS A LIE & NEVER HAPPENED!

  18. Wow, incredibly irresponsible journalism. I understand that this is satire, but there has got to be a better way to make your point than misuse the name of a church, it’s members and it’s leaders like this.

  19. This is pure unadultrated B.S. ! If anyone needs proof, go to Willowcreeks website & you can see ALL the services from Summer ’09 are archived.

  20. Has anyone read the disclaimer on this site? You should. It will make everything clearer.

    http://www.holyobserver.com/disclaimer/

    Blessings on your summer. Don’t check out of church!

  21. This NEVER happened. Take it from some who has ACTUALLY attended Willow Creek for the past 25 years. To Ms. Moison, before you throw out your EXTREMELY judgmental comments about our church, perhaps you should check the facts first. Or perhaps take ONE STEP inside of the church before you go talking about it. Hypocrites piss me off.

  22. This is 100% untrue. Shame on whatever group professionally fabricated the BIGGEST LIE !!!!

  23. This is false, and given how many people believe this article, it would be wise of the Holy Observer to remove this from their site. Willow Creek Community Church has a wonderful series of speakers slated for the summer months, including Shane Farmer, Ken Davis, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, John Ortberg, and more. In addition there will be a concert by Steven Curtis Chapman. Nobody can call that “closed down!”

  24. This is too funny especially the fact that most of the people posting here are not aware of what satire and humor are.

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