The lead pastor of Willow Creek Wheaton, one of Willow Creek Community Church‘s eight campuses in the Chicago area, announced yesterday that he’s resigning due to an intense drive for results, which was negatively impacting his staff.
According to Willow Creek spokesperson, Katie Franzen, Willow Wheaton Pastor Reece Whitehead announced his resignation to his congregation on Sunday, after engaging in a six-month process to correct his leadership issues with executive coaches, external leadership experts, and church staff.
Whitehead’s resignation comes during a time of turmoil for Willow Creek. Last year, founder Bill Hybels resigned early after several women accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct. The elder board and two lead pastors also resigned and apologized for initially backing Hybels against the women’s accusations. On Friday, the new elder board released its “last statement” about the events of 2018, charging Hybels with “unchecked sin and intimidating behavior” and stating that they found the women’s allegations credible.
In a statement from Whitehead I obtained, and Franzen authenticated, Whitehead said he decided to resign after the Holy Spirit convicted him about “the intensity through which I seek results.” Whitehead added that he too often associated “my identity in the fruit of my labor (results), rather than resting in the truth that I am God’s child.” He said this led him to be “results-driven” to a fault and caused him to develop a “blind spot” in his leadership, which impacted others. “This is not who I want to be or how I want people to feel.”
“I have too often associated my identity in the fruit of my labor (results), rather than resting in the truth that I am God’s child.”
Whitehead served at Willow Wheaton for eight years. He said he is “uncertain” what is next for him.
Reece Whitehead’s letter to his congregation: