Baptism & Communion
illow Creek observes two biblical sacraments rooted in the actions and teachings of Jesus Christ: Baptism and Communion. These sacraments represent both the individual, inward commitment to a personal relationship with Jesus and the corporate, outward sign of being connected to a local community of Christ followers—the local church.
Whether you're seeking a greater understanding of Willow's position on these sacraments or you're interested in participating in Communion or Baptism at Willow in the future, you can learn more by exploring the topics below.
Baptism at Willow
- Jesus' final recorded words to His followers before His ascension to heaven express the importance He placed on Baptism. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commands His followers, “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Baptism does not provide salvation for an individual, but rather serves to identify publicly the individual as a follower of Christ. In passages such as Acts 2:41, 8:12, and 10:47–48, the act of Baptism follows an individual’s decision to trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. The New Testament records the Baptisms of adult believers only. In Romans 6:1–11, the apostle Paul describes the immersion of Baptism as a means through which the believer identifies with the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ: Going under the water represents Christ’s death—and a believer's death to sin; coming out of the water illustrates His resurrection and the believer's new life in Christ.
Baptism is an act of obedience to Christ that follows an individual's acceptance of salvation by God's grace alone. Baptism isn't a prerequisite for salvation; however, if an inner commitment to trust Christ alone for salvation has been made, then the outward symbol of that commitment—Baptism—should follow, as is modeled throughout the New Testament in the lives of those choosing to follow Christ.
- While recognizing the right for other churches to practice infant Baptism if it conforms to their theology, the congregation of Willow Creek Community Church understands Scripture to teach that only professing believers qualify for Baptism.
Scriptural teaching on Baptism may be summarized as follows:
1. Baptism is an act of obedience to the command of Christ, fulfilled by individuals who have submitted themselves to His sovereignty.
2. Baptism symbolizes the spiritual cleansing through divine forgiveness and the newness of life believers experience by virtue of their identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
3. Baptism provides an opportunity for believers to make a formal profession of their faith before the church.
4. As a biblical rite of initiation into the body of Christ, the Baptism of a believer may be considered a prerequisite for becoming a member of the church.
Although the old covenant practice of infant circumcision is sometimes given as a rationale for infant Baptism, the biblical definition of the functions of circumcision and Baptism shows that those two institutions fulfilled different purposes in their respective covenants. The equation is never made in the Bible between the circumcision of male infants in the old covenant, and the Baptism of born-again believers, much less of infants, in the new covenant. However, Willow Creek Community Church encourages Christian parents to present their children for the ceremony of dedication, whereby God’s blessing is formally invoked upon the children, and the parents publicly commit themselves to raise the children in accordance with the teachings of Scripture.
Because the symbolism of Baptism requires a more adult level of cognitive and developmental readiness, the Elders require that children be at least 12 years old to be baptized at Willow Creek. Proverbs 20:25 issues a significant caution against the danger of making a vow before adequate knowledge, forethought, and reflection have been given. In an effort to prevent young people from making a premature commitment they may not fully understand, this minimum age has been established.
Baptism recognizes and celebrates the redemptive life change that is continually occurring within our church. The Elders encourage new believers and believers who have not yet participated in adult Baptism to be baptized by immersion. The Elders’ position is that Baptism by immersion paints the truest picture of dying to sin and arising to Christ and new life. While the Elders strongly encourage immersion Baptism, we do recognize that some individuals may request Baptism by the sprinkling of water rather than full immersion, either because of a strong personal preference or based on a compelling physical reason or disability. In these cases, the Elders ask that a brief explanation be given during the registration process.
- If the purpose of Baptism is to publicly identify a believer in Jesus Christ, you may well be asking yourself, “What was the significance of my Baptism as a baby?” In the New Testament, we find parents bringing their children to Jesus. He held them and prayed for them and told His disciples to welcome them. But He did not baptize them, and He did not tell anyone else to baptize them. Baptism is for those who have made a personal decision to trust Christ alone for their salvation.
If you were baptized as a child, it was the intent of your parents that you would one day be a follower of Christ. Your Baptism as an adult can be viewed as the fulfillment of your parents’ wishes. It in no way repudiates the Baptism you received as a child.
- Once someone professes faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, the Bible says they should proclaim the life change that has occurred—the watching world needs to know. Baptism has always stood as a public testimony for people who have become believers in Christ.
Believers are those who have realized that their sins have separated them from God. They have given up all efforts to reach God through their own good works or religious activity. They have concluded that Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for their sins is the only thing that can bridge the gap between them and God. A believer is someone who has decided to trust Christ alone for his or her salvation.
If you have come to this point in your spiritual journey, then you are ready to be baptized. Let the miracle that has happened in you show through the sacrament He ordained for you.
- If you are ready to get baptized, you will need to complete the following three steps:
STEP ONE: Complete a Baptism Registration Form
If you intend to be baptized at Willow Creek, please complete a Baptism registration form by choosing the available Baptism for the Willow campus you attend, on the right.
STEP TWO: Attend a Baptism Information Meeting
In the weeks leading up to the Baptism weekend, each participant is asked to attend a brief informational meeting immediately following weekend services. At these meetings, a Willow Creek pastor reviews the church’s statement on the biblical basis for Baptism and answers any questions you may have. A staff member explains the logistics of check-in and the order of events during the Baptism service. The Baptism team is also available after these meetings to address any further spiritual questions you may have.
STEP THREE: Get Baptized!
South Barrington, Casa de Luz: Plan to arrive 45 minutes prior to the service. Enter the Main Auditorium and sit in the reserved seating section that has been set aside for you and your guest(s). A service host can guide you to this section. A brief, pre-service meeting provides you with final details of the Baptism service.
Chicago, Crystal Lake, DuPage, Huntley, North Shore: Plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to the service. Details about the service will be given at that time, and you will be directed to reserved seating.
Communion at Willow
- Jesus' Last Supper, the Passover meal He shared with His disciples on the night before He was crucified, is the biblical foundation for the Communion mealcelebrated in His honor by Christians all over the world today. With His twelve friends gathered around Him for the traditional Jewish Passover meal, Jesus "took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body, given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is poured out for you'" (Luke 22:19–20).
- Communion is "the believer's meal,"a sacrament intended for Jesus' followers, by which they acknowledge and remember His work on the cross—the ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf for the forgiveness of the sins of humankind. Willow Creek extends an "open" Communion table, meaning the invitation to receive Communion during a Willow service is open to any follower of Christ, regardless of membership at Willow, denominational affiliation, or spiritual tradition. Anyone who has accepted His forgiveness and surrendered their lives to Him is invited to share the Communion table at Willow.
Those investigating Christianity who have not yet made a commitment of faith through Jesus Christ are encouraged to simply let the Communion plate pass by, utilizing that portion of the service to pray and invite God's activity into their investigation of faith.
- Communion is celebrated during select weekend services at each Willow Creek campus throughout the year. Weekend services that include Communion are announced on each campus homepage at least one week in advance. Use the navigation at the top of this page to see when a campus near you is observing Communion.
- To meet the dietary needs of our congregation, gluten-free elements are available at most Willow Creek campuses. Simply find a Guest Ministry host before the service and let them know you would like to receive gluten-free elements.