Senior Pastor Profile

Below is the profile used as a guide for hiring created by the Willow Creek Elder Board and Vanderbloemen with the input of Willow Creek executive staff and congregants. We understand and acknowledge that no single person can fill every desired requirement, and it would be unrealistic to expect them to do so. This profile has provided direction and clarity around needs for this role, and we have sought God’s wisdom and guidance throughout the process as we have discerned who will serve as our new senior pastor.

About the Senior Pastor Position

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.

The Senior Pastor Will Accomplish The Following Goals

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.

Qualifications

Education

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.