A New Direction
Back in July I stepped down as the pastor of University Baptist Church and put my house up for sale, assuming that I would be searching to become the pastor of another established church. One thing was not on my mind: Church planting. It was too uncertain, too difficult.
But then a combination of things began happening. First, our house didn’t sell—and hasn’t sold (big prayer request) so moving on from Macomb has taken longer than expected. As a result we have had a longer opportunity to reflect on where God is taking us. If our house had sold quickly, or a new ministry position would have expressed interest relatively quickly, I would not have considered CP as a viable option.
Second, in our search for a new ministry position, it has been very difficult to find churches within the SBC that fit the style and kind of ministry that I am more energized by. Many churches can be described as “stifling” to new ministry perspectives. For new pastors in an existing church; changing a pre-existing church culture takes trust, transformation and especially time. Even then, any transition is often not pleasant. A repeated pattern is long standing members leaving the church they grew up with in bitterness at the new direction. On one hand, I like and agree with by Ed Stetzer’s oft used quote that churches will remain the same until “the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” On the other hand, I am disheartened and saddened by it as well. Pain and broken relationships are practically guaranteed.
Thirdly, was the strength of the church planting staff that has been put together here at the Illinois Baptist State Association: Charles Campbell, Eddie Pullen, Chris Wright, Sean Banesh. I doubt we would have been willing to move forward without the innovative staff being added to the church planting effort. By all accounts, Illinois seems to be ahead of the curve when it comes to church planting and a willingness to try innovative ministry.
So here we are. Just this weekend, 1/25/09, the family and I took a trip up to Chicago to look over a couple of CP locations. We didn’t connect with the first on Saturday, but we really did on Sunday with the area around Joliet, IL, particularly Shorewood, IL. So much of this community is new: new homes, new businesses; all within the last 5 years. The county is one of if not the fastest growing counties in the US. The churches that are there have been there since the 50’s & 60’s and are resistant to the newcomers who have changed their small, country town to a bustling, crowded, trafficked, suburb.
The way the population is growing, I’d figure that if all the area churches were reaching 300 people, there still would be a great number unreached by any church. Unfortunately, that scenario is not true—90% of the churches are not reaching more than 70 and of those most of them have lived in the area for a long time. New work is needed. And I’m excited to be a part of it.
I’ve been working on a church name for a while, and since seeing the area, it fits perfectly. Already, God has helped us develop a motto for the church and just this morning a logo design.
We’re calling it:
With the phrase:
A Love Worth Pursuing
A Life Worth Living
A Faith Worth Dying For
The logo still needs some professional work and we’re looking for partners to come along side us in planting The Pursuit in Shorewood. So please keep praying for us as we are led to go in this New Direction. And please consider partnering with The Pursuit to reach a rapidly growing community.
Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life,