Category Archives: Church Planting

Indianapolis & Lafayette

Church Planting Prayer Requests

Jen and I visited Indianapolis this weekend.

There are some areas of Indianapolis that are absolutely booming with growth. It truly is remarkable to see that on the north side of the city, there are some counties with the highest growth rates in the nation. On the south side of the city, there is nearly as much growth as well. Jen and I have been praying about and considering the city of Indianapolis as a possible target for our church plant, so we went down there this weekend.

It was a good trip. We got to spend some time with Jen’s college roommate and her husband (they let us crash at their place!) and we also got to visit with the pastor of an MBC church plant in the area.

I was surprised by a few things on our trip:

I really liked the city of Noblesville to the northeast of Indianapolis. It had a really quaint downtown square around the courthouse, and when I bought some Chai from a local coffee shop, the people inside were really friendly. I had the chance to chat with a couple of schoolteachers in the shop there, and they completely raved about the quality of their school system.

I also liked the village of Greenwood just south of Indianapolis. That’s an area that is experiencing a good deal of growth too. I had the chance to talk with a realtor there who told me that the south side of Indy as much more “laid back” than the north side of Indianapolis. The people on the north side were a little “snobby” in comparison.

The main areas we were supposed to look at didn’t really impress me much. There was Zionsville which is an incredibly beautiful area, but the homes there are absolute monstrosities of capitalism, the small downtown seemed to be geared toward the upper echelon of society, and the demographics claim the median age is 39 which is nearly ten years beyond Jen and me. Those aren’t bad things, but the potential for us to relate effectively to the people who live there is much lower than somewhere else.

We also were planning to consider Lebanon, but on the advice of some people we talked to down there, we realized that Lebanon presently is a city that seems to be “caught in the middle.” It is the county seat, but it is still relatively rural in mindset. Though Zionsville is booming in the southeast of the county, Lebanon itself isn’t experiencing much growth yet. In a few years it might begin to have some growth, but it isn’t happening yet.

Finally, we spent just over 24 hours in Lafayette, and I was actually surprised how much resonated with me in that short amount of time. There were aspects of the city that reminded me of other places I have lived. It had aspects of Peoria, Denver, and Victorville. I honestly really liked it. It’s a completely different feel from Noblesville and Greenwood, but it might be just what we are looking for.

Jen and I are going to continue to pray about it all, but she is getting really impatient about us picking a place and moving forward with it!

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Chesterton: Met with Pastor Neil

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Last week I had the chance to meet with Pastor Neil Horner of Duneland Community Church. He generously offered to buy me lunch even though we hadn’t met before. We had a great conversation and I picked up on a few significant things:

  1. He is passionate about seeing the community impacted for the better.
  2. He wants to see the community impacted by the churches and not just by his church. He really has a passion to see all the churches in the area working together so well that any pastor would be eager to send a visitor to a different church if another one might be more effective for that person.

It was great talking to him because those are my dreams as well! I really want to see a region impacted by the churches operating in unity with each other.

I asked him directly if he thought there were enough churches in the area already to accomplish that and to reach all the people. He said, frankly, that there were, but that I had asked the wrong question. “It’s not about whether there are enough churches to reach these people. It’s a question of whether or not they will.” I was completely impressed by his answer and his eagerness to open the door of the community to another new church if the purpose of the new church was to reach out and make a positive impact on the region for the cause of Christ.

It was a really encouraging meeting because he is a friendly guy and I think it would be really fun to get to know him better and to get to work with him in ministry.

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Jen says she knows

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My wife told me last week that she already has a sense from God regarding where we should plant a church. She isn’t telling me yet because I don’t have a clear sense yet. However, I think I know where it is that she is feeling called to. I also have a sense that I know where we are going to end up even though I don’t have a clear sense of calling to that place yet.

Have I been vague enough?

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Chesterton Update

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We went to Chesterton this weekend. The original plan was to go to Jen’s parents’ place on Thursday night, hang out there with them, and then give the kids to their grandpa while Jen and I did some touring of the area. However, things didn’t work out that way.

  • Jen’s dad was assigned to work on Friday even though he was supposed to take the day off, so we couldn’t leave the kids with him.
  • We were supposed to have a meeting with Pastor Bill at Liberty Bible Church, but he got sick and had to cancel our meeting.

Nevertheless, we had a really good time. We met with a Real Estate agent who, though he wasn’t too interested in having another church starting in Chesterton, was really encouraging about the character of the town. He showed us on a map where to go to look at houses that were selling at the median selling price in the area, so after we dropped the kids off with their grandmother to take naps, Jen and I went back out to see those homes.

We were impressed. The amount of home you can by for your dollar is incredible (especially compared to Chicago!). Also, a large number of homes have the design and neighborhood that is just what we would be looking for. In terms of a place where we might want to live, it would rank pretty high.

However, we still need to talk with some pastors in the area to see about the spiritual condition of the town and whether there is a segment of people who are effectively unreached. I should be getting some of those meetings in next week.

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Chesterton this weekend

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We’re going to go to Chesterton, Indiana this weekend. We are planning to have a meeting with Pastor Bill of Liberty Bible Church this Friday, and then on Saturday, we plan to tour the city to see about the potential for a new ministry there.

It’s another situation where there are already many churches, but the potential for growth is much higher considering that Chesterton is becoming more and more of a Chicago suburb.

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Elkhart Update

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We all went to Elkhart last weekend and had a pretty good time just being a family together, staying at a hotel and all that.

We got to see a real estate agent and someone from the chamber of commerce, and though the city had a lot of really nice things going for it, there were some major red flags as well. There hasn’t been much growth in the city or in the surrounding areas recently and even though the county grew 30,000 over the previous decade, the estimates have it growing by only about 1,000 over the next decade!

Additionally, there are churches everywhere! I was seriously surprised at the incredible number of churches we saw in just the brief time we were there.

Things like that make me think that the existing churches should unify to reach their city, and starting a new church in the area might be more divisive than anything else.

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Feel Like Abram

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Just today, I read this passage:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Genesis 12:1-3

Reading that passage was a great encouragement for me. I feel a little like Abram because I’ve clearly sensed God’s call on my life to “pick up and move on” but he hasn’t yet told me where I’m supposed to go. However, for Abram, the promise was “I will bless you, and other people will be blessed through you.” I’m claiming that promise for myself as a spiritual child of Abraham! (Romans 4)

Thank You, God!

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Telling our church

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Jen and I have already told the people on our Vision Team, but the rest of the congregation doesn’t know yet.

I’m trying to decide whether I should tell our congregation before we know a target location or after. If we tell them before we have a target location, then perhaps they could join in to pray for us too, and then when we do sense God’s leading to a target location, this congregation would feel like they have had a part in it. I’m leaning heavily in this direction, but pray for me to have wisdom about it.

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We’re planting a church!

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God has clearly led Jen and me to plant a church.

We have been thinking about church planting ever since seminary days, but God hasn’t ever given us a clear call to do it. Instead, he called us to come to Chicago and pastor an established church here. He has done many things here in us and through us, but he has revealed to us that he doesn’t want us to stay here indefinitely. He wants us to plant a church as our next step.

However, God hasn’t yet told us where or when that will be. We are in the discovery process about that.

I would like to ask you to pray for us about our church plant efforts. Presently, we are seeking God on a few strategic locations:

  • Northern Indianapolis (Zionsville, Westfield, Lawrence)
  • Lafayette, Indiana
  • Northwestern Indiana (Chesterton, Valparaiso)
  • Elkhart Indiana

I’ll be using this blog to keep you all posted on the latest goings on with us as well as to let you know specific prayer requests.

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