The Process

From the beginning, the Willow Creek Elder Board was committed to being prayerful and unified in their search for our next senior pastor. They worked with the team from Vanderbloemen to create a Senior Pastor profile based on input from staff and congregants, which was used to vet hundreds of applicants. The Elders underwent a thorough interview process which included multiple video and in-person interviews, review of teaching, meetings with the spouse of each candidate, theological interviews, psychological assessments, and background checks.

Below is a timeline of the senior pastor search process that began after the installation of the current Elder Board in January 2019. Please view Frequently Asked Questions here and past Elder email updates here.

Senior Pastor Announcement

April 15, 2020

We are excited to share that after many months of praying, searching, and discerning, we are unified in selecting Dave Dummitt as our new senior pastor. While we wish we could share this news in person, we didn’t want to delay this announcement.

Dave comes to us from Southeast Michigan… Read more »

April 2020

Senior Pastor Selection

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.

March 2020

Senior Pastor Search Process

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

Interim Senior Pastor

The Elder Board named Ray Johnston from Bayside church to serve as interim senior pastor to help bridge the gap between Steve Gillen’s transition and the appointment of a new senior pastor.

After the rise of COVID-19, Steve Gillen agreed to continue serving through April 2020 as a senior advisor to provide pastoral support through the crisis.

January–February 2020

Senior Pastor Search Process

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.

September – December 2019


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

Vanderbloemen’s update 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. 

June – August 2019


  • 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 

February – May 2019


  • 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

January 2019

New Elder Board is installed.