Pastoral Search

One of the top priorities of Willow Creek's board of Elders is to prayerfully discern the appointment of our church's next senior pastor. Please see an overview below. Receive Elder updates—including news on the senior-pastor search—by subscribing here.

Pastoral Search Overview

JANUARY 2019 – New Elder Board Installed 




  • Explore church leadership models, including shared leadership for nondenominational churches to determine the best model for WCCC. Review research was completed by CDF Capital, who interviewed multi-site churches of similar size across the United States to present positives and negatives of various leadership models.

  • Investigate methodologies for conducting pastoral search to determine optimal method for WCCC.

  • Affirm foundational values for the mission of WCCC. Conduct initial assessment of areas for growth.

  • Research pastoral search firms to assist in facilitating pastoral search.

  • Finalize interim plan for organizational leadership during pastoral search.


  • Approve senior pastor as a singular point of organizational leadership, reporting to the Elder Board.

    • Initial hires are likely to include a teaching pastor, as well as a South Barrington lead pastor to focus on the broadcast campus and largest staff. As the new senior pastor is onboarded, discussions will continue with the Elder Board to make sure the healthiest, most sustainable organizational structure is created.

  • Form senior pastor search committee: Barb Butz (committee chair), Jeff Choh, Steve Kang, Jeff Mason, Michael Roth.

  • Contract with Vanderbloemen search firm.

  • Contract with Steve Gillen to serve as interim senior pastor.




  • Search firm meets with congregation groups to assist in formulating senior pastor profile, including representatives from Leadership Advisory Councils of all campuses, ministry leaders, active volunteers, long standing members, and young adults.  

  • Search firm meets with leaders representing staff across all locations to assist in formulating the senior pastor profile.

  • Develop search profile and job description for senior pastor.

  • Provide input for the creation of a senior pastor search video.

  • Vanderbloemen reviews candidate applications, references, sermons, and qualifications.

  • Search committee conducts blind review of candidate applications to guide search criteria and appraise the quality of candidates in the application process.


  • Senior pastor profile and job description (view here)

  • WCCC search video shown below

  • Top six candidates presented to search committee 





  • Interview candidates, review references, sermons, and relevant experience.

Vanderbloemen’s update (view here) to Willow Creek Community Church provides an overview of the search process, along with details regarding the scope and results of the search as of September 2019. The top six candidates have been presented to the search committee. The identities of candidates will remain confidential in order to protect their privacy. 



Elder Board continues the Senior Pastor search process with six new candidates vetted by our search firm. They begin exploring outside candidates to serve as the next interim senior pastor to bridge the gap between Steve Gillen’s transition and the installment of a new senior pastor.

The full Elder Board is now involved in the interviewing process, not solely the search committee.


MARCH 2020

As the Elders narrowed the field to final candidates, they invited senior staff members to help interview and provide feedback.


APRIL 2020

The Elder Board names Dave Dummitt as the new senior pastor of Willow Creek. He and his wife, Rachel, along with their four children, will be relocating to Illinois in May as Dave transitions into his new role. Dave will teach his first weekend message at Willow Creek on June 6/7.

Senior Pastor Profile

About the senior pastor: 

The senior pastor will lead and serve Willow Creek Community Church and all its locations so that it can become a thriving, healthy family of local churches. This man or woman will provide overall leadership and vision for the entire network of regional campuses. They will ensure Willow Creek’s vision and strategy is clear and understood across all locations, that the right leaders are leading and serving the campuses, and that Willow Creek is positioned for strength well into the future.


The senior pastor will have the ability to dream and cast vision for the next season of congregational life and community impact. The ideal candidate will demonstrate spiritual leadership, an authentic walk with Jesus, and a proven commitment to balancing the rhythms of work and life. He or she will be a proven “leader of leaders” who can motivate and inspire high-capacity men and women to use their gifts to further the vision.




In Spiritual Leadership:

  • Although not expected to deliver the message every weekend, when teaching, communicate biblical truth in an inspiring fashion that helps reach irreligious people and help people at all levels of their spiritual journey to become fully devoted followers of Jesus.

  • Exemplify a life of walking closely with Jesus, including strong spiritual leadership in the home.

  • Can balance leadership and vision along with accountability and submission while working with a board of lay Elders. The senior pastor will meet with the Elders regularly and will have full voice into all matters, but will not be a voting member of the Elders.

  • Help bring healing to a staff and congregation that has experienced significant loss.


In Visionary/Organizational Leadership: 

  • Bring strength to Willow’s regional locations through a unified vision, while continuing to provide a great deal of autonomy that has allowed the regional sites to attract top talent and thrive as self-supported congregations.

  • Focus initially on strengthening Willow as a local church. Once strength is restored and Willow is healthy and thriving once again, continue Willow’s legacy of high-impact ministry outside the walls in the Chicago area and around the world.

  • Lead the executive team to bring unity and clarity to all programs and ministries, so that all of Willow is pulling for the same mission and vision.

  • Work with the Elders to clarify the relationship with Global Leadership Network (formerly WCA). Note: GLN (WCA) and Willow Creek do not share leadership or governance. The GLN does still occupy space in the building. Focus on building an executive team. 

  • Initial hires are likely to be a teaching pastor, as well as a South Barrington lead pastor to focus on the broadcast campus and largest staff.

  • Put emphasis on leadership development, individually modeling this at the highest levels. Equally, place a focus on building processes and systems so that managers and team leaders across Willow are being developed.

  • Provide leadership to help Willow discover its target audience. In the past, it was “unchurched Harry and Mary.” This needs to be redefined for 2020 and beyond.




Willow Creek values candidates who are lifelong learners. Proven leadership experience is important, and this individual should be theologically grounded, but a formal theological classroom education is not a requirement for selection.

Experience and Skills

  • Has a proven communication gift with the ability to effectively deliver talks with a large audience in a room that seats 7,000, while simultaneously engaging with people who are viewing from other locations via high-definition video.

  • Has the ability to deliver messages that reach the seeker, as well as provide depth to help believers grow in their faith.

  • We have a strong preference toward leaders with multi-site or complex organizational experience.

  • Has life experience in connecting with professionals, entrepreneurs, and people who have outwardly made it in life but are seeking significance.

  • Has a heart for those who are under-resourced and history of fighting poverty and injustice.

  • Has a track record of developing and equipping leaders.

  • When you look in the rearview mirror of this leaders life, you see growing organizations.

Personal Characteristics

  • Values and champions women in leadership roles at all levels of the organization, in both executive and ministry capacities.

  • Has likely worked in a nonhomogeneous environment and embraces a diverse culture.

  • Can balance being accessible, while also exhibiting healthy personal boundaries.

  • Is known to be a humble servant leader. This shows up in learning, asking questions, and relying on the strengths and gifts of others.

  • Displays a high level of emotional and relational intelligence.

  • While very grace-filled, holds to a traditional view on marriage (between one man and one woman).

  • Has likely weathered a season of great pain and loss that has helped humble, refine, and shape him or her into a better leader and pastor.


WCCC search video