Elder Update: Merry Christmas & Senior Pastor Search Update

Elder Update - December 10, 2019

Dear Willow Family,

As Christmas approaches, we reflect on the birth of Jesus, remembering that His name is Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). This reality fills us with hope—we are grateful that God is merciful and does not leave us alone. In this season, our prayer for our church family is that we will grow in our understanding and trust in Jesus, Immanuel. In this message, we will provide an update on the senior pastor search, which was shared during weekend services on December 7/8, and ask you to join us in praying for the decisions that lie ahead. 

Senior Pastor Search

The final two candidates have been presented to the full Elder Board. We value wisdom and discernment over speed, so we have extended the interview process and plan to make an announcement to the congregation in the first quarter of 2020. Waiting is not always easy; however, we believe it is wise to have patience and thoroughness in a process that holds such significance and has such great impact on the church. We trust God to lead us to the person who best reflects our high-value characteristics for the next senior pastor: 

  • A love for Jesus and His bride, the church
  • A love and understanding of the truth of God’s Word
  • Demonstrated character in living out the Word in daily life, and the ability to communicate how to live out God’s Word
  • Experience and giftedness in leading and shepherding a church of Willow’s size
  • Commitment to women in leadership
  • Commitment to diverse leadership teams and congregations
  • The ability to apply sound Christian doctrine to navigate complex social concerns
  • A heart for evangelism and discipleship
  • A passion for seeing God’s amazing transformation from seeker to fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ


In this final stage of the process, our objective is to perform our due diligence in understanding the candidates and the impact their selection may have on Willow Creek Community Church. Here are some of the primary steps we have been working through: 

  • Review of each candidate’s application, background check, and references
  • Review of recordings from each candidate’s teaching
  • In-person observation of each candidate’s teaching
  • Multiple rounds of candidate interviews
  • Meetings with the spouses of each candidate
  • Theological interviews
  • Psychological assessments

We hold firmly to the truth that Jesus is and always will be the head of His church. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18, emphasis added). Jesus’ words give us hope and perspective. Our prayer is to select a faithful steward to serve in the ongoing work of Jesus in His church.   


Prayer Requests

We ask that you consider the following prayer requests:

  • Wisdom and discernment for the Elder Board and the candidates in this next phase. May there be clarity and peace for all involved.
  • Healing of relationships. This past season for our church has left many relationships broken. May God lead us toward healing and restoration. 
  • Unity, that our hearts and minds will be aligned with God’s direction for His church. 


We conclude this update remembering the wonder of Jesus’ birth:

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

—Matthew 1:22–23 


Merry Christmas!


In His service, 


Willow Creek Elder Board

Shoji Boldt

Barb Butz

Jeff Choh

Silvia Escobar

Jeff Mason, Chief Governance Officer

Michael Roth

John Sleeting, Secretary

Mary Square 

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