If you have been following our journey into church planting, you know that we have been wrestling with question of location. Where should we plant a church? Well, we have made a decision and believe that God is leading us to plant a church in Naperville, Illinois. Here’s why:
Naperville is an impressive city with thousands of people who do not know Jesus. God deserves to be treasured and adored in this city, and the community is need of a bold and faithful evangelical witness so that the gospel can be proclaimed and the lost saved. As the fifth largest city in Illinois (Naperville population is 144,000), Naperville is a town that is not only large in population, but also in its renown–the city has been ranked in the top five best places to live in America in three out of the last six years. Along with its renown, it has a beautiful bustling downtown, and its population is extremely affluent. Yet despite its beauty and popularity, 37% of its population have zero involvement with matters of faith (SBC statistics). While there are some churches faithfully preaching the gospel in this city, the need for more gospel-preaching churches is pressing. Along with the city’s need for another church, my church (Redeemer Fellowship in St. Charles) is hoping to plant another church in the area, and Naperville fits perfectly for our community. There are individuals who drive between 30-40 minutes to get to Redeemer each week, and if we had a plant in Naperville, that commute would be reduced dramatically. Thus, the city of Naperville needs another gospel-centered church and our community is poised to plant a church in that location.
We hope that our church plant will bring about radical transformation to the culture of Naperville. Specifically, we hope for several areas of redemption in Naperville’s culture: 1. a greater presence of those who proclaim the gospel (hopefully through the conversion of many who are lost in Naperville) and witness in the major subcultures of the city (youth, established, immigrants); 2. a growing attitude of godly humility and repentance of ‘thinking too highly of oneself;’ 3. a new perspective on community–valuing its importance above comfort and independence; 4. a radical generosity and reorientation of wealth–more people using their finances to bless others and further the work of the kingdom; 5. more churches being planted in Naperville and beyond–hoping that our church will contribute to this.
Other reasons that add weight to this decision to plant in Naperville are found by examining my calling, gifts/skills, fit with the city, and desires. God has called me to plant a church and by His providence I am in a church which is passionate about church planting and has approved me to be the lead pastor of the new plant. Along with calling to be a church planter, God has given me leadership skills, preaching and teaching gifts, an aptitude for networking and pioneering, and entrepreneurial traits–all things which are strategic for church planters to possess. I also have a good understanding of suburban culture and my education makes me a good fit for working with a highly educated population. Finally, my wife and I love the city and have a heart to see many come to Christ there.
Please keep us in prayer as we work through the next steps: choosing a location in the city of Naperville, creating a budget, refining the vision and expectations for core team members, and casting the vision to others with the hope that God would raise up a team of mature, committed Christians to help us plant this church.