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    Willow Creek to Shut Down During the Summer

    “The church leadership took a look at where attendance and giving were last summer, and when you look at the numbers, the case for closing shop just makes a lot of sense,” said Willow Creek Senior Pastor Bill Hybels. “For years we’ve been trying to justify the expense of operating throughout the summer when schools are closed and people are on vacation. We just couldn’t do it any more. If people are going to put their spiritual growth on hold until September anyway, why should the church fight it?”

    While weekly services and other regular ministries have all been canceled, some special, summer-specific programs like summer camps will still go on as scheduled.

    Read more here…

    PS—It’s Friday, and of course this story is complete bogus.  --Todd

    The Holy Observer reports: In perhaps the most extreme example to date of churches halting ministries during the traditionally slower summer months, Willow Creek Community Church – one of America's prototypical mega-churches – has decided to close its doors until after Labor Day.

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    1. Josh R on Fri, June 15, 2007

      Wow,  this is the first new thing I have seen out of THO in a very long time!  I hope they are back at it!

    2. Ken on Fri, June 15, 2007

      That is hilarious!

    3. Daniel on Fri, June 15, 2007

      Isn’t it sad that Todd feels he has to add the Friday disclaimer?  ...

    4. Bryan on Fri, June 15, 2007

      What a great article!  I agree in wishing Todd had not included the disclaimer, but more because I’d love to hear the response from people who thought it was real.

    5. Todd Rhoades on Fri, June 15, 2007

      Nah, Daniel… I don’t think it’s sad that I needed to put the disclaimer in; I think it’s more sad that I put it in because some people would think it was true and start a flury of blog posts against Willow Creek.

      This is actually an old article from the Observer from a couple years ago when many megachurches cancelled Sunday services (because Christmas fell on a Sunday).  They failed to report that some of these churches actually did up to 20 services the week before; or that it most churches don’t meet on Christmas Day no matter what day it falls on.

      But it’s Friday… so let’s not rehash that whole thing.


    6. Camey on Fri, June 15, 2007

      Is “rehash” like refried? I’m just wonderin’ since it’s Friday…..

      Thanks for confirming what day it is… Rumors have been flying.

    7. myPond on Fri, June 15, 2007

      Got to admit it’s an interesting concept…I’m thinking about if this was for real and was my church, would people come back hungry & with new energy or not come back at all?


    8. Frank Chiapperino on Sat, June 16, 2007

      HAH!  Dude you had me going for about 5 min!  I should have read your whole post!  Now I can’t stop laughing!

    9. stephen riches on Mon, June 18, 2007

      A great bit of humour….and very thought provoking as it should be.

      I admit….it had me “questioning” right down to the disclaimer….a sort of “can this be true?” kind of thinking. 

      But I’d like to add a couple of thoughts on the disclaimer.  There are two ways of going about it.  One is to make a simple statement, as Todd did.  The other is to continue with information that eventually gets so absurd that everyone would catch on.  And there was a little bit of both toward the end in particular. 

      For those who might think it a shame that a disclaimer is needed at all, I beg to differ.  As people, we are all wired differently.  Some are naturally skeptical.  They tend not to believe at first and have to be almost convinced of a truth.  Others approach from the opposite direction…..choosing to believe until it is proven that their trust has been abused. 

      I tend to be among the latter.  Some consider that naive.  But as I read the article, my thought was actually…..“what am I missing here…..what principle about the Lord’s work have I not given enough thought…...what is Bill Hybels’ greater plan….there must be some explanation for something which, to me, doesn’t make sense”.   My natural inclination is to keep reading, keep thinking, dig deeper, and most importantly…..NOT REACT NEGATIVELY too quickly, even though this made no sense to me at all.  It was my respect for Hybels and Willow Creek that made me approach it in this way. 

      So I appreciate the humour…..I appreciate being “had”.   And I also appreciate the disclaimer.  So that I can continue not to have to adopt a more “skeptic first” mode of thinking every time I read a report from a brother in Christ.. 

      One final point.  It is those who are inclined to be skeptical first, who are also inclined to doubt the merits of all proposals for change, and to resist those changes.  Yet,  we do need the skeptics as well, so that careful consideration is always given.  We need the Peters who will walk first in faith without heed to the wildness of the storm, confident that the Lord will lead and protect, as well as the Thomases who first assume that the report cannot be true and will not be swayed unless they get incontrovertible proof. 

      So to all the Thomases who knew this wasn’t true right from the start….my hat’s off to you.  God has given you a gift of great perceptiveness.   And to all the Peters who are “blessed because they believe even though they have not seen”....we all need your faith.   There is no shame in our differences.  God made us complementary. 

      And so thank you for the disclaimer, Todd.   It means that we can all enjoy the humour…..some from the start….some after a while….and some at the end….regardless of how God has wired us individually. 

      Steve Riches

    10. kevin denlinger on Mon, June 18, 2007

      very funny… especially the parts about the third day concert and the “holy whine” from the drama team leader about her work now being useless…  somehow, those comments almost made the article seem “real” ... thanks for the laughs…. kd †

    11. Not A Monk on Sat, June 23, 2007

      Very funny and very well written.  The odd thing is…truth be told prior to becoming born again I actually did attend a Unitarian church that did shut down in the summer time…no joke…Gee do you think that it might be because that Unitarian Church had no life changing message of eternal significance to proclaim…hmm…just a thought.

    12. Prisca on Mon, June 25, 2007

      My Daddy used to say he didn’t dare tell me a joke after Wednesday for fear I’d laugh out loud in church on Sunday.  I’m so glad it’s Monday!

    13. Just me on Fri, June 29, 2007

      This is the kind of thing that makes Christianity lose its credibility.  It may sound hilarious but playing with people’s minds when you should be supportive is part of why the world laughs at us…we are just like them in our presentations…anything to get a laugh, an audience, etc.  BLEH!!

    14. Pastor Bill on Tue, July 17, 2007


      This article by Todd may be a lie (bogus - terminology gets us into compromise!), but I know of a church where the daily am prayer WAS stopped for the summer due to “lack of interest” (by the pastor) and he stated that he would bring it (e.g. prayer) up in the Fall to see if ther was any interest in restarting the weekday prayer! Oh, one more comment - I also live in an area where VBS is rare…..and the pastor(s) wonder(s) why God is not moving…............

    15. Pastor on Wed, December 17, 2008


      The sabbath day is the Lords day, no where in scripture did God say that a certain amount of people had to show up for service before it could become the sabbath day.  When 2 or more are gathered in his name there he is in the midst of them.

      The greed for mega churches is becoming a time clock for disaster in itself, our messages are getting watered down, lacking anointing & miracles….., thus in danger of becoming a hamburger drive through…....(this is sin) 

      No matter what, all pastors should not spend beyond their means, be frugal at all times when needed unless you get a clear word from the Lord to do otherwise.  Living supernaturally minded isn’t easy but its the most fantastic journey you will make.

      There are prodigals that need to come home, even if it is O.N.E., have we Pastors in America become so arrogantly minded with a lust for success that we shake our fist against the call of God on our lives and thus refuse to wait for just one more of his baby lambs to come home?, did not Papa God wait patiently for me to come home? food for thought…..........

      Concerned Pastor…....

      New Orleans, LA

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