By Jim Nieman
“I’m so excited to become a part of the Willow family,” Dummitt said in a video posted by Willow Creek. “For the last 15 years my family and I have had the privilege of launching and leading 2|42 Community Church in southeast Michigan. And over these last few months we’ve sensed God leading us to come and be a part of what he’s doing in and through Willow. . . . I couldn’t be more hopeful and on the edge of my seat for what God is going to do as we journey on mission with him together.”
Dummitt, 46, is expected to relocate in May and deliver his first message at Willow Creek the first weekend of June, according to the Illinois church’s website. He will take over for acting senior pastor Steve Gillen.
Dummitt will be leaving a church that just celebrated its 15th anniversary in February by launching three new campuses. 2|42 Community Church has grown from a launch team of 35 people meeting in the Dummitts’ living room in Brighton, Mich., to include thousands of worshippers weekly spread across seven campuses. Christian Standard‘s annual church survey for 2019 lists 2|42’s average attendance at 7,222. The church has consistently ranked as one of the fastest-growing churches in America by Outreach magazine.
One of 2|42’s key, innovative steps a few years after its launch was to purchase an athletic club and transform it into a community building that includes space for children’s programming, arts instruction, athletics, a café, and more.
Dummitt has been a regular contributor to Christian Standard, writing our “Movement” column for nearly two years. Most recently, he wrote “Six Reasons Your Church Needs a Mobile-Giving Option” for our March issue.
Willow Creek announced Dummitt’s hiring by calling him “an innovative, entrepreneurial pastor and leader with a strong passion to help people take first and next steps with God. He is known for his collaborative leadership style and ability to develop strong teams.”
In addition to his leadership with 2|42, Dummitt previously served as North American director of NewThing, a global church-planting organization, and on the board of The Solomon Foundation, a church extension fund. Most recently, he partnered with two technology developers to create Gyve, an innovative technology platform for churches and nonprofits. He is a graduate of both Wheaton College and Asbury Theological Seminary.
Willow Creek has been one of the most influential churches in America during much of its history. The church was founded in 1975 and reached a peak attendance of about 25,000 worshippers in 2015, making it the fifth-largest congregation in America at the time, according to Outreach magazine.
“As a freshman at Wheaton College, I’d heard about this church that was doing creative things to reach lost people,” Dummitt told Vanderbloemen, the search firm that assisted Willow Creek. “We attended, and I can almost point to the seats we sat in that day. The service opened with a Beatles song. I was a church kid who played in the handbell choir at my church. That service opened my eyes to new ways of doing church. I don’t know of a pastor or leader in America that has not in some way been shaped by the ministry of Willow Creek.”
“I’ve known Dave for many years,” said William Vanderbloemen, CEO of the search firm. “His humble spirit, and his focus on the local church—rather than a national platform—is one of many reasons we believe he is precisely the right person to lead Willow in this moment.”
In 2018, longtime Willow Creek Community Church senior pastor (and church co-founder) Bill Hybels stepped down and retired after abuse allegations. Later that year, two co-lead pastors also resigned, as did the church’s entire board. Most recently, attendance has been about 18,000 weekly, Christianity Today reported in February.
The nondenominational, evangelical church now has eight campuses in and around Chicago.
Jim Nieman serves as managing editor of Christian Standard.