Church planting can be hard, lonely work. Church planters often plod along, encouraging their flock without a peer network with which to share triumphs and frustrations.
As discussed here on The Exchange, one of the key issues facing church planters is maintaining spiritual, physical, and mental health. Many church planters are natural networkers, but very few major cities have church-planting alliances created specifically for this purpose.
The Chicagoland area is no exception. As we started to explore ways in which the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE) could convene thought leaders in and around Chicago, our team discerned a need to bring together church planters in the Chicagoland area to do just that.
Several weeks ago, 70+ church planters from around the Chicagoland area braved a lakefront storm to meet at the historic Moody Church in Chicago. The first meeting of the Chicago Church Planting Alliance (CCPA) convened church planters from around the Chicagoland area—a metropolis that boasts a population of nine million plus. Over the years, church planters have worked tirelessly to reach Chicagoland with the gospel. The CCPA was created to raise awareness for the need for church planting, to share best practices, and to encourage church planters in the Chicagoland area.
Speakers for the first meeting included Ed Stetzer, Erwin Lutzer, David Washington, Gary Rohrmayer, and other church planting thought leaders.
Pastor Lutzer, who served as pastor of The Moody Church for thirty-six years, was asked to speak to attendees on finishing well in ministry. Lutzer shared six lessons from Moses’ life and experience to help planters think through what finishing well in ministry looks like.
Gary Rohrmayer shared several principles from his book Church Planting Landmines and gave every attendee a free copy of the book. Rohrmayer offered attendees pointers on overcoming ministry “entropy” as church planters.
David Washington, pastor of Kingdom Covenant Church, who was recently featured on The Gospel Coalition, shared his experiences as a new church planter in the Roseland neighborhood in Chicago, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. Washington recounted his experience as a former gang member and spoke with attendees about contextualized church planting in urban areas.
Ron Zappia, pastor of Harvest Bible Church-Naperville, also spoke with attendees about his church planting experience. Zappia shared several tips for church planters to remain grounded and gave attendees a sober reminder that it is “Jesus that build his church…church planters are just along for the ride.”
Attendees then shared a time of worship and prayer together and the meeting closed with attendees meeting by region for some focused networking time.
We received great feedback about the first CCPA meeting and are already making plans for our next gathering this summer, where we’ll meet on the campus of Wheaton College. If you are a church planter in the Chicagoland area and would like to join us, feel free to email us at bgce[@]wheaton[.]edu to join our CCPA mailing list.