Willow Creek Community Church: A Cautionary Tale (Section 3)

Culture Repentance 

The poisonous spiritual DNA of BH was the basis for the unfolding of a church that focused more on appearance, program, numbers, money, and worldwide notoriety. The values and vision of this church were never meaningfully vetted against what a church and what a pastor would look like if the DNA was that of Christ. The great reveal done years ago at WCCC is that the church was severely under-focusing on discipleship and the deep growth of the believer. It was no surprise to me that this was the case. Believers who have a mature understanding of their spiritual growth would likely be more inclined to identify and confront the deeply immature and image-oriented focus of WCCC.  

Did the army of staff that signed up, sublimate their understanding of a Christ centered church to the power and bigness of BH’s vision? I know personally and professionally, that  there are a number of integrity based individuals who tried to confront sin and seek change and got crushed by  BH’s power and control. Many people are still on staff at WCCC that either did not have the spiritual maturity or the strength to recognize and confront the deep schism between the vision, values, and management behaviors of BH and what a true and authentic Biblically founded church should look like. Do we need to call out all staff at all leadership levels that co-opted BH’s vision of the church and then fell in lock step to the image developed around a diseased DNA model of Christ’s church? It seems to me that now that BH is no longer at WCCC, the heat is off all of those who had to at some level adjusted and adapted to what it took to stay at WCCC and to support the deeply flawed organizational vision, values, and behaviors used to sustain what was really just the external clothes of the narcissistic emperor. Does God want a public confession from all those who created the scaffolding by which WCCC was erected? I believe so. 

Fair And Balanced 

10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames. I Corinthians 3 


To be fair, WCCC has born good fruit in many areas. It looks to me like that which was not of Christ needs to be dismantled so that it becomes Christ’s, not BH’s church. The verses above focus on the fact that the building (church) will be tested, and what is not of Christ will be exposed and burned up. But even those who do things with misguided motives can be doing things where Christ is being communicated. I will leave with these verses that show that God is at work, even in our brokenness. His church will prevail! My next blog will be about what I believe needs to be done to create a Christ-centered culture at WCCC.  


15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,  Phillipians 1:15-18 

The Most Important Biblical Advice For Leaders In The Church

It is unconscionable that BH birthed and then developed the Willow Creek Association, whose goal was to equip leaders and had a global leadership conference to teach what leadership was to be all about. And yet, the shocking reality of his own personal life and leadership was so fraught with sinful visions and motivations and unbiblical characteristics of leadership. Why has no one shouted out the hypocrisy of all this? The WCA, now called the something else, has left the hypocritical legacy of its’ founder float like a dark shroud around all that it does. Why do those who claim to be experts at leadership, not lead? Lead! Point out the obvious contradiction of a man and ministry that violated the tenets of good biblical based leadership. Are the faithful supposed to draw their own conclusions? Why does the leadership of the leadership group not have the guts to point out the obvious. Who wants to follow someone who cannot point out the elephant in the room, deal with it with honesty and transparency?

11 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. I Corinthians 11

Simple. In essence Paul says that follows should only follow a leader who follows Christ. If a leaders vision, values, and behavior do not reflect those of Jesus, do not follow him or her. They are not worthy of being emulated nor are they to be obeyed. Strong Nathans are to call out the behavior of leaders in the church who do not follow hard after the life and leadership of Jesus.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1

A mature church, established in the Word, should have the discernment to determine if its’ leadership is following Christ or their own broken agenda. Leaders who, like BH, are aloof and disconnected from the body of believers, do not allow themselves to be held accountable. As mature followers of Jesus, we must not allow a church to have elitist or celebrity leaders, because they can thrive and drive the church off a spiritual cliff.


One thought on “Willow Creek Community Church: A Cautionary Tale (Section 3)

  1. Thank you for this whole series. It’s a rallying cry and a balm to my soul at the same time.

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