The Cross At Willow Creek: Seeker Religion and the Contemporary Marketplace

Hoover, Stewart M. "The Cross At Willow Creek: Seeker Religion and the Contemporary Marketplace," in Bruce D. Forbes and Jeffrey H. Mahan (eds.), Religion and Popular Culture in America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000.

Stewart M. Hoover argues that far from trivializing traditional symbols of faith such as the cross, megachurches such as Willow Creek exemplify a more profound and more meaningful use than simply hanging it on the wall week after week. Part of a larger collection of essays examining religion and popular culture in America, Hoover’s essay addresses the issue of religion in popular culture and seeks to understand how media and religion as social and cultural spaces are interacting in contemporary life.
Much of the religion in contemporary life is marked by a “seeker” orientation where the emphasis is more on seeking than on belief or belonging; the focus is on meeting the individual’s needs and interests. Megachurches such as Willow Creek exemplify this “seeker religiosity” and a market-driven approach necessarily bound to a seeker-centered approach. Faith, in this perspective, appears to be treated as a commodity just like any other commodity on the market place. However, argues Stewart, churches such as Willow Creek’s market-driven approach places it in a situation where the potential for realizing the prospects of religion in media age is greater than the traditional approach to religion where the emphasis is on belief and custom. One such area where this potential is realized is in the manner in which the cross is used at Willow Creek only on special occasion such as baptisms.