Willow Creek is a multi-generational, multi-ethnic multiplying movement of Christ followers passionate about worshiping Jesus, growing in
faith, sharing our lives & faith with others, reaching people who don’t have a relationship with God, and blessing our communities and
world through our transformed lives & radical generosity.
Our God-sized vision can only be accomplished by prayerfully seeking God, partnering where He is already at work, learning, and innovating as we develop leaders, launch campuses, and plant churches throughout Chicagoland and the world.
Willow 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.
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.
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.
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 in Grade 6 or older 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.
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 the individual publicly 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.
Baptisms take place quarterly at Willow's main campus in South Barrington, and according to each church's planning at the other locations. Check with your campus to see when the next Baptism is scheduled.
The Last Supper (the Passover meal Jesus shared with His disciples the night before He was crucified) is the Biblical foundation for the Communion meal celebrated by Christians all over the world today. With His twelve disciples gathered, 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" intended for followers of Christ, by which they acknowledge and remember Jesus’ death on the cross—the ultimate sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.
Communion is celebrated approximately every six weeks during weekend services at each Willow campus.
Depending on your campus, you will have the opportunity to receive prepackaged communion either from a Guest Experience Host as you enter or through communion stations located within your sections.
To meet the dietary needs of our congregation, gluten-free options are available at most Willow campuses. Simply find a Guest Experience host before the service and let them know you would like to receive a gluten-free option.
Willow Creek's core beliefs describe our theological positions on key aspects of faith. Centered in Christ and His message, ours is a biblical theology rather than a theology that is speculative, subjective, or merely rooted in tradition. These beliefs are derived directly from Scripture (both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible).