Throughout the last three years we have been regularly praying for the Holy Spirit to lead us as we make plans for future ministry. More specifically, we were praying God would lead us to do ministry in a place that was:
1) In a large global city
2) In a diverse neighborhood of that city
3) Close to major colleges or universities
We are well aware that there are great needs for churches all over the world in both rural and urban areas. However, we get most excited about the strategic opportunities for disciple-making that exist in cities. So we prayed that God would give us those opportunities and if he did not open those doors we would faithfully serve him in a rural or suburban setting. We want to be proven faithful wherever we are living.
In God’s kindness, he did open those doors and has answered our prayers in undeniable ways. In March 2011, a close friend encouraged us to consider planting a church in Chicago and so we started praying specifically about that idea. The more we prayed and talked about it the more our desires grew for doing ministry in that city. A few weeks later I started making contacts with various church leaders in Chicago in order to find a church in the city that we could partner with. One of the churches we were encouraged to reach out to was Edgewater Baptist Church. I decided to write an email to their Senior Pastor, Bill Pinalto, to see if they would be interested in working together on planting a church in Chicago. Apparently, right around the same time that I was typing up this email Bill and his wife were praying for God to bring more leaders to their church and that it would be awesome if these leaders had training from a place like Capitol Hill Baptist Church. Shortly after Bill said, “Amen,” he gets an email from I that begins by saying, “Hello Bill, my name is Phill Howell and I am currently an intern at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.” Since that first email we have begun building a relationship with Edgewater Baptist Church and we believe God has put us together as a direct answer to our prayers.
The neighborhoods on the north side of Chicago that are like Edgewater are all densely populated, diverse, and within a few miles of four major universities. God has answered our prayers above and beyond what we ever imagined. He not only led us to a place exactly like we were praying for, but he also led us to a great like-minded church right in the middle of it all.
We believe God has opened up a wonderful opportunity for us to plant a church in Chicago and if you would like to learn more about our vision, strategy and the different ways you can partner with us click on the “Chicago Church Planting” tab above.