Willow Creek - Contemplative/Emerging Spirituality

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Recently, headlines about Willow Creek filled the front pages of several online news outlets. The caption stated: "A Shocking Confession from Willow Creek Community Church." Some wondered if Willow Creek's pastor Bill Hybels was repenting from past errors in ministry techniques.1 But a Lighthouse Trails commentary showed that this "shocking confession" was actually a re-enforcement of Willow Creek's efforts to "transform this planet" through contemplative and emerging spiritualities. The LT commentary stated:

It is no new thing that Willow Creek wishes to "transform the planet." They are part of the emerging spirituality that includes Rick Warren and many other major Christian leaders who believe the church will usher in the kingdom of God on earth before Christ returns. This dominionist, kingdom-now theology is literally permeating the lecture halls of many Christian seminaries and churches, and mysticism is the propeller that keeps its momentum. If Willow Creek hopes to transform the planet, they won't be able to get rid of the focus on the mystical (i.e., contemplative). Their new Fall 2007 Catalog gives a clear picture of where their heart lies, with resources offered by New Age proponent Rob Bell, contemplative author Keri Wyatt Kent, and the Ancient Future Conference with emerging leaders Scot McKnight and Alan Hirsch as well as resources by Ruth Haley Barton and John Ortberg. Time will tell what Willow Creek intends to do about strengthening its focus on "spiritual practices" and "transform[ing] the planet."

Well, it appears it isn't going to take a lot of time to see what their future intentions look like. The most current issue (Fall 2007) of Willow Creek's magazine, Willow (in hard copy and also online) gives a clear view of the organization's spiritual emphasis. The issue titled Ministry Shifts has a subtitle that says: "The landscape of our ministries is shifting. Brace yourself for the aftershocks."

Article titles in this Willow issue certainly make a statement that things are going to change: "Seismic Shifts," "Rediscovering Spiritual Formation," "Stemming the Tide," "The Changing Face of Worship," "Shifts in Missional Mindset," and "The Next Great Debate." With such commitment to change, it's no wonder Willow Creek supports Brian McLaren, who is currently on his "Everything Must Change" tour (named for his new book). Click here to read the rest of this article.

Willow Creek Hosts Conferences With Contemplative Speakers - Training Thousands to Follow Interspirituality

Small Groups Conference 2005 with contemplatives: Larry Crabb, Brian McLaren, Dan Allender,
and Dave Fleming


The Leadership Summit 2005 -
Going Global with
Rick Warren and Ken Blanchard


"We created a self-guided experience in the chapel, a contemplative worship service with Scripture reading, reflection, praise and prayer. You could choose how much to participate in, with the option of going to different areas in the chapel that would allow you to more fully engage." —Pam Howell, Willow Creek

Spiritual Formation According to
Willow Creek

What Does Willow Creek Recommend?

Their Recommended Reading List includes contemplatives:
Henri Nouwen
and Dallas Willard

Their post-modern list includes New Age sympathizers
Brian McLaren, and Leonard Sweet as well as emerging church leader, Erwin McManus.

"Imagine one Sunday morning you go to your local Christian church and find that something very odd is going on. As you approach the church building, a stranger wearing a "Gay Pride" T-shirt opens the door for you and says, "Come in. God loves you just the way you are!" Confused, you hurry to the worship service and find that a New Age guru has been invited to preach. After the error-filled sermon, you stagger to your Sunday School class and hear the shocking claim that Christ is NOT the only way to heaven, but that eternal life can be found in all religions. You are then asked to seek a spirit guide to verify this "truth" through Eastern meditation."—Chris Carmichael, When Churches Promote Books Instead of the Boo

The Who's Who of Willow Creek

Bill Hybels
Picked as one of 25 most influential evangelicals.

Philip Yancey

Robert Schuller

Rick Warren

John Ortberg

Ruth Haley Barton

Lee Strobel

Willow Creek Community Church Seeds Bookstore

Which Authors are they selling to Christians?

Thomas Merton
wants to be the best Buddhist
he can be

Henri Nouwen
Uncomfortable with those who say Jesus is the only way

Richard Foster
tells us all we should practice contemplative prayer

Thomas Keating
believes all have a true self which is God

Ruth Haley Barton
teaches contemplative prayer
to thousands

Tilden Edwards
believes contemplative prayer is the bridge between Christianity and Eastern religion

Gerald May
Teaches contemplative prayer at Shalem Prayer Institute

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