Tag Archives: Willow Creek

We Have Been Changed to Bring Change!

Think on this!

CHANGED from blaine hogan on Vimeo.

This music video was created for Aaron Niequist’s new song, Changed.

©2009 AARONieq Music / Willow Creek Community Church


I Love this video.  it speaks in simple ways about the awesome things that God has called us to.  “How can we worship more than singing?” is a question we have to ask regularly.

Right now, I’m knee deep in planning an Arts Reception for all the creative, musical, artistic types at my church.  My hope is to empower as many people as possible to connect with our church and use their gifts and to connect with other individuals who share their passions.  I’m extremely excited about the potential of what could come from people gifted by God to do creative things getting together to spread the Gospel, provoke thought and action, and to communicate the heart of God.

Keep me in your prayers as I can get a little overwhelmed with the minute details (that I don’t really need to worry about).  I know that God is in control and working things out wonderfully according to his plan.  If you’re in the Chicago area on August 30th, I’d love to see you there!  You can get details at WCarts.eventbright.com!

Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2009 – TWEETS!

Today (Thursday) and Friday – I’ll be immersed in some of the richest teaching and dialog on leadership in the business and church worlds. I’m taking notes the old-fashioned way, but I’ll post what I can soon. In the mean time, this is what people are saying RIGHT NOW from the summit.

It’s awesome to see what’s happening here and across the country as THOUSANDS are attending live via Satellite locations.  For those who aren’t familiar with the Twitter culture – you’ll often see hash tags that look like this: #tls09. Hash tags create an easy way for people on Twitter to follow a particular topic. The above listing is a real-time stream of messages that include #tls09.

The great thing about Twitter is that it allows instant communication around topics – in a public format.  I’ve met and connected with other leaders simply by following who is talking about what topics that interest me.  I’ll write more about this soon.  Thanks for reading and always feel free to leave comments below!

NEWS NOTE: Twitter.com is experiencing what is known as a “denial of service” or “DOS” attack.  What happens is people with bad intentions purposely send a flood of requests to a site or service so that it overwhelms the system and forces the entire system to shut down.  So the site or above stream may not show up if the attack is still in progress.

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Notes from Wonder09 Breakout Sessions

to WorshipBelow is a continuation of my series of notes from Wonder, the Willow Creek Arts Conference 2009.  Click here for notes from Day 1. These notes are from Day 2 – the breakout sessions where we were able to pick sessions that most interested us.  Please feel free to share your thoughts or comments as well.  If you attended other workshops, share the link to your posts about them here as well!

Continue reading Notes from Wonder09 Breakout Sessions

Blogging LIVE from Wonder09: Willow Creek Worship Arts Conference

Hillsong starts at #wonder09 in a few more minutes! Room pack... on Twitpic

I’ll be posting as much as I can from the conference which is Wednesday June, 10th through Friday June 12.

These are my notes / recap of my favorite moments and quotes from today.  Oh… and by the time this post goes live, it won’t actually be ‘live’ but oh well.  It was an exciting title.  The notes are after the break.

Also, I had the neat experience of connecting to other Twitter users real time at the conference. I one of the vendors exclaimed my name when he saw me walk up to the table! He’d seen my tweets about the conference and recognized me from my picture on my profile.  Earlier in the day I connected with a stranger who happened to be in the same breakout session.  Even leading up to the conference, I found friends of mine who were also going to the conference.  It’s neat to see social networking in action IN REAL LIFE!  Now on to the notes…

Continue reading Blogging LIVE from Wonder09: Willow Creek Worship Arts Conference

Classes @ Willow – Homosexuality: How Do We Respond? (Video)

Watch Classes@Willow Video – Andrew Marin.

Andrew Marin, WCCC Guest Teacher – This class will address hot topics and questions regarding homosexuality, and will help participants discover what it means to learn, listen and understand their way through the culture war of GLBT-Christian relations.

This is why I love my church!  Willow Creek & Andy Marin: what kind of amazing things can happen from this connection?!  I love that my church is willing to jump into the messy, controversial, never-easy, topic of homosexuality in a way that isn’t fear based or centerd on condemnation or even reacting to the current political and media events.  It’s an honest and informed discussion that I think will help our congregation(s) to mature in how we handle this key topic in our society.

Check out the video or download the audio and listen in your spare time.  The entire 4 week series will be made available online.

Sharing My Story

Darren\'s first time singing with Willow ChicagoSunday was the close of the 3-week series on “Desire: the double edged swords of money, power, and sex”  at Willow Creek.  Before every service we have a time of prayer in the back.  I wasn’t there Saturday night, so Sunday morning was my first time hearing the message – and I was nothing but tears through every song.  So before the last service, I asked to share a my testimony with the group during prayer time.  I didn’t get out all the details that I wanted to, but I’m inspired to share some of it here.

For me, this service basically marks a year of me singing with Willow Chicago.  My first time singing was with the Chicago choir at Barrington for the Wednesday night New Community service in the summer of 2007.  That day we sang “I Just Can’t Give Up Now” and it was the beginning of me becoming part of the Willow Family.

In our prayer time today, I shared that when I came to Willow I wasn’t looking for a church home.  I was hurt and broken from the rejection / abandonment I received at my previous church due to my struggles with sexual sin.  I’d gone to them for help when things became out of control… and though I did all that they asked I do to “get free” – I wasn’t getting healed fast enough, or the way they expected.  It eventually caused them to exclude me from ministry.  This happened rather abruptly and little discussion and no follow-up.  The way things happened left me feeling hurt and bitter and out of fellowship for a year before I started seeking another place to be connected to the Body of believers.  I didn’t want to not be in church, I was just too hurt to go back to what was then my church.  This is when I decided to check out the church I’d seen billboards for on the L Train Platforms: Willow Creek Chicago.

From day one it seems I was connecting with a new and wonderful church, but the question still remained: would I be rejected again if they knew my battle? (and my failures?) I didn’t want to be a part of another church where it would have been better to hide and stay in the dark than to expose the truth and live in the Light.  So I told Pastor Steve and the ministry leaders about my issues.

I was received with care and with love.  Steve saw that I needed to be involved in Worship because of how life-giving it was for me.  The ministry team rallied around me in support and love – even thanking me for my transparency and openness!  To this day their love amazes me and encourages my faith in the difficult process of healing and change.

I still struggle (daily), but I’m no longer struggling with the need to prove my spirituality or spiritual growth to anyone.  I don’t feel the pressure to keep up some facade just because I’m ‘a minister’.  I feel like I can truly connect with the people I worship with and love and be loved.  I feel the amazing effects of God’s grace.  I’m learning how to form healthy relationships that in a Godly way fill the voids in my heart.  I’m getting the wise council that I yearned for, but could not find.  I’m even experiencing small victories and seeing patterns and habits change.

I’m in a difficult season right now as well.  I’m JUST learning about my needs for validation and approval.  Learning about unsafe places where I’ve sought safety and security in the past, and beginning to take steps to build more healthy and safe relationships and repair old ones.  I’m seeing my thought patterns that for ages have kept me bound by fear and limited my potential socially, financially, emotionally, and relationally.  It’s so difficult for me sometimes when I look at ALL that needs to be fixed right now. But I try to stay focused on one thing at a time, keep encouraged, and bit-by-bit open up more to those God has placed around me so I don’t have to face this thing called life alone.

Maybe someone reading this is down or needs encouragement.  To you I say: keep smiling, not because it just looks good but because eventually it’ll all be good and you have a great and eternal hope in God.  (Ok… that was really for me but I just thought I’d share! 😉 )

My Big Weekend at Willow Creek in South Barrington

The view from stage rightTHANK YOU LORD! It’s been another wonderful weekend of worship at Willow Creek Community Church.  This weekend, Steve Wu – Willow Chicago Campus Pastor, and our entire music team went lead worship at the Main Campus in South Barrington, Illinois.  This was a great opportunity for me.  This is the first time that a regional campus has lead worship on the main stage at Barrington.  The Chicago campus is only a year and a half old, but God has grown the church tremendously and as we mature the Lord is using us to shake things up at Willow Creek.

THEY HAD EVERY DETAIL!!!! The Barrington Church gave us such a warm welcome.  They went so far as to build a life-size EL train platform!   It was beautifully realistic and detailed – even down to the no-smoking and warning signs!  Dinner was provided in the green room for the entire team before the Saturday night service and breakfast for the two Sunday morning services.  One of the Barrington worship leaders lead us in a song for prayer sparked a blaze of worship and hearts open for God through the entire weekend.  Literally, as each of the services progressed, there was a greater and greater passion that was building in all of us!

Senior Pastor Bill Hybels mentioned in the services that Willow Creek is becoming a singing church and that as a congregation the worship this weekend would be a deffinate time to experience that!  Willow Creek in the past has been a place where participation was very optional, however, things are shifting to being much more participatory –  especially in the form of congregational singing!  It has been my heart to see people liberated in worship… God has touched Hybels’ heart with that same vision and I’m eager to see more and more people giving praise with ALL that they have within them.

Willow Chicago will be leading worship in Barrington for two more weeks, and I pray that God will use us to spiritually set the church on fire with a passion for worship that can’t be quenched!!!

Everybody’s got something to say about Willow

I’m preparing a blog post about the awesome time I had at the Willow Creek Arts conference – but I had to stop to vent my frustration with what I’m reading in the blogging world from Christian organizations about Willow Creek.  Right now, the big buzz is about the results of Willow Creek’s “Reveal” study – which found that increased involvement in church programs does NOT ultimately result in fully surrendered, Christ-centered spiritual maturity.  They realized that in their old method – people after coming to faith in Christ simply kept looking for more and more ‘feeding’ from their church – and became dissatisfied when the church couldn’t provide it.  They are looking to now teach believers to become ‘self-feeders’ as they grow.

Unfortunately many out there are posturing this as “Willow Repents” and the beginning of the End of Willow Creek.  Unfortunately many haven’t read the book and are only responding to what OTHERS have said and how they have spun the situation.  I see bloggers riding high on their horses with this “I told ya so” attitude.  It would seem like they would have some form of compassion for a ministry that is just trying to ‘do church right’ for God’s glory — like hopefully we all are.

I guess I am frustrated by the notions that people put out there that their way is more biblical than others… citing that we need to go back to ‘the traditions’.  I question statements like that because most of what defines the North American church evolved LONG after the New Testament was written.  There is a LOT of tradition that has nothing to do with being Biblical — and I just want us not to make it more ‘biblical’ just because it’s ‘older’ than whatever modern practices or approaches are.  For example — we make certain English words essential to genuine faith when none of the bible was written in English – it’s all a translation or interpretation.  Shuoldn’t we all be engaged in a passionate pursuit of God’s truth – rather than fighting with each other about religious stuff?

The last time God gave 100% specific instructions for Worship was the Old testament and the building of the tabernacle.  In Christ there was an amazing shift from the priestly system to this family/community of believers who did life together in the book of Acts.  The New Testament church didn’t have it perfect (prompting Paul’s corrections / teachings) and we still don’t have it together today… although they did it WAY better than we do.

The reality is that we all will be 100% dependent on learning to hear and respond to God for how to ‘do church’ or anything else.  I think we become so short cited and see our lifetime as the fullness of God’s eternal plan.  God’s church is HUGE… I don’t think we can fathom all of it until Jesus himself appears and the end of this age comes.  In the mean time it’s my aim to prayerfully read the scriptures and seek the will of the Father.

One of the first things that I LOVED about Willow was the fact that the leadership could say when it was wrong and you regularly heard apologies and saw things change direction as a result.  I hadn’t commonly experienced that in other ministries where I’d been involved (short of some form scandal that HAD to have a response).  I think it’s a GREAT example to lead with the transparency of being a human who CAN and WILL get things wrong.   The history of the Church has NEVER been perfect — the reality is that it is being PERFECTED by Christ up until the day of His Return.