Autumn in Chicago is a stunning blend of historic skyscrapers and some of nature’s finest green spaces. The college students are flooding back into the city from their summer hiatus. Young families spend weekends doing sports and visiting orchards, squeezing out every ounce of the summer before the winter hits.
For pastors and church leaders, fall is when ministry kicks into high gear. This is especially true for church planters. Why? Because church planters have the same amount of planning and work to do as pastors of existing churches, but with less resources and a smaller leadership team.
Those of us who have planted and pastored churches know that fall tends to be when growth happens. It’s also the time when two other things happen:
- Casual attenders start volunteering (setting up, greeting, assisting, serving, etc…).
- Faithful volunteers join leadership (small groups, Sunday teams, planning, etc…).
So much happens in the fall that church planters need to be mindful that as much as they give out, they also need to take in.
That’s one of the reasons why a few of us in the Chicago area decided to start the Chicagoland Church Planting Alliance (CCPA). We want to make sure that church planters are being encouraged and cared for as they experience the different seasons of church planting.
CCPA is a multi-denominational group that encourages church planters in the Chicago area. (See The Need for Multi-Denominational Church Planting Networks in Our Cities.) Although we don’t plant churches together, we champion church planting and gather church planters and leaders together for learning, networking, and prayer.
On October 24th, CCPA is having our third gathering and we want to focus on helping Chicagoland church planters lead well this fall. We want to spur them on towards healthy leadership in the home, the church, and in the community. And underneath all this is helping planters do a better job at leading themselves.
So we pulled out all the stops and asked experienced leaders who we know are invested in Chicago to pour into church planters at our next CCPA gathering:
Dr. Charlie Dates is senior pastor of Progressive Baptist Church in Chicago and is our gracious host for this CCPA gathering.
Mark Jobe is founder and lead pastor of New Life Community Church and is probably the godfather of church planting in Chicago, if there is one.
Ron Edmondson is a leadership expert and the senior pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. Ron is a partner and advocate of church planting in Chicago through Send Chicago.
Then we’ll also hear from a gifted panel of church planters who are all in different stages of planting:
Jon Kelly is planting Chicago West Bible Church which launched in 2015 and meets in West Garfield Park in Chicago.
Matt Solie is planting Village Church which launched this fall and meets in River West in Chicago.
Lester Cruzat is planting Church of the Beloved Wicker Park which will be launching this fall.
Charlie Barclay is planting One Seven Church which launched last year in Bradley.
And of course I’ll be there to round out the pack.
If you’re a church planter pastor/leader or a pastor of a church planting church or if you’re interested in planting churches in the Chicago area, you’re invited to join us for CCPA this fall.
Just register HERE to let us know you’re coming.
But if you’re not in the Chicago area, let me encourage you this fall to find a group like CCPA in your own city. You’re too valuable in the Kingdom and your work is too important to neglect the fellowship of other like-minded sisters and brothers who are also working to advance the Gospel in your city.
So, church planters, let me exhort you again: It is by the grace of God that you take in just as much as you give out this fall.
And remember, you’re not alone.
If you need help finding a city-focused network or if you know of one in your city, contact Daniel Yang (daniel.yang[at]wheaton[.]edu) who directs the Send Institute, our church planting think-thank, and he’ll connect you.
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.