Chicago Emerging Baptists

This site is intended to allow a forum for those in the NextGen Network of the Chicago Metro Baptist Assocition to continue their dialogue online and produce a resource for those interested in emerging topics.Please join in the conversation.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

John Stott prophetically wrote the following in 1990...

‘The rise of urban civilization’, wrote Professor Harvey Cox in The Secular City, is one of the ‘hallmarks of our era’. ‘Urbanization’, he continued, ‘constitutes a massive change in the way men live together’, as they have moved from tribe to town to technopolis. The urban experience includes a cluster of things like communications and mobility, the disintegration of traditional religion, impersonality and anonymity, human planning, control and bureaucracy. And in the decayed inner cities of our time we would have to add economic neglect, racial disadvantage, unemployment, poor housing and education, crime, violence, family breakdown, and tensions between the police and the community.

In 1850 there were only four ‘world class cities’ of more than a million inhabitants; in 1980 there were 225, and by the year 2000 there may be 500. Or consider the so-called ‘megalopolis’ or ‘megacity’ of more than ten million people. In 1950 only London and New York qualified. But by AD 2000 it is calculated that there will be twenty-three cities of this size, with Mexico City taking the lead at nearly thirty million inhabitants, and Sao Paulo and Tokyo following at nearly twenty-five million. Most of these megacities will be in the Third World; only four will be in Europe and the United States. Already two-fifths of the world’s population are city-dwellers; by the end of the century the ratio will be more like one half.

This process of urbanization, as a significant new fact of this century, constitutes a great challenge to the Christian church. On the one hand, there is an urgent need for Christian planners and architects, local government politicians, urban specialists, developers and community social workers, who will work for justice, peace, freedom and beauty in the city. On the other, Christians need to move into the cities, and experience the pains and pressures of living there, in order to win city-dwellers for Christ. Commuter Christianity (living in salubrious suburbia and commuting to an urban church) is no substitute for incarnational involvement.

From John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1990), 292-293.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

CMBA Church Planters Forum:
Saturday, October 29th, 2005 10AM – 1PM

1) Why is the North American church having such a difficult time reaching the people with emerging worldviews with the gospel of Jesus?
We assume people have a biblical worldview. We present it as an outline and apologetics vs the story form. We have gotten away from biblical terminology. We are too focused on apologetics. To us it is compromise to change our unbiblical approach. Training evangelists instead of missiologists. Fail to see it as mission field. Afraid to get their hands dirty. Afraid to live and work in our community. Afraid to be incarnational. People feel they have tried Christianity at some point and it didn’t work. What is the platform to present the gospel. They don’t even understand their worldview. The gospel has been oversimplified. Months maybe years. Not everybody is at the same point. We do everything one-size fits all, in a diverse world. Too much distance between the believer and unbeliever in privileges, but not enough distance between disciples and non-disciples in lifestyle. Don’t understand the many facets of the gospel. Rigid-ness in our approach. Hypocrisy…dishonesty. We have gotten to far into politics. Self deluded into a feeling of safety.

2) If we were to come up with a simple statement of the gospel for presentation to emerging generations what would that statement be?
Problem – solution
Love – the story of God is the story of love. Demonstrate to them love for each other and love to them. Not a simple statement.
(we all know what you guys believed, wasn’t until I experienced the community)
Words are not effective. All about our actions and emotion.
They have stolen compassion for the poor from us.
Jesus told stories that undermined their values.
And asked amazing questions.

3) What are the best means of communicating this gospel message to post-modern people?
Community. Story Telling. Start using all of our gifts. Musicals, Broadway. Movies. Doing ministry together. Pre-evangelism, climatism. Postmoderns are open to the story. Open the door in the ministry. Relational, but not traditional relational evangelism. As I personally die for my friends then there is supernatural power in the gospel. Experiencing true love. Self-sacrifice of the things the world goes after.

4) What can a standard traditional or purpose driven church do to become more inviting to those of an emerging generation?
Not much. Get out of your office. Become more missional as opposed to attractional. As the pastor does so the congregation will do. The church will be nothing more than you are as a pastor. First Baptist Arlington: Multihousing, empowering their staff to open warehouse to meet the needs of the people, separate service for apartment ministers doing church in housing units. Change their definition of success. Reach people for the Kingdom but probably not in their building. Resourcing house-church movements. Thinking many-many different models. Not just English language. Change or die, not just suburban. Easier to birth something different or new than to change. Too much into just one strategy. PDC&WC=FF
Lets become more biblical.

5) Will ancient traditions or spontaneity be more valued by emerging generations?
Yes. Some traditions are good or legitimate, but be careful not be ensnared against the Word. Crazy busy world: centered, focused, solid, true, in traditions. Confucions. Windows, stations of the cross, positive side. Back to the story foundation. Update the stations of the cross to look different.

6) How should discipleship look for those who find standard discipleship materials lame beyond explanation?
Laying down my life for another, that is the root of spiritual life. Not curriculum driven but love driven. Mutual accountability. Mentoring. Coaching. Spontaneous as life situations come along. Encouraging a lost person to follow Jesus. Where does discipleship start and evangelism end? Luke’s favorite word for believers in the book of Acts was “disciples.”

7) What role could our current structures (established churches, denominations, associations, seminaries, publications, etc.) play in an emerging revolution?
Financially supporting those who they are sending out. Prayer. Experiment. Willingness to accept more failures than successes. Not to feel threatened. Adopting as opposed to giving birth. Seminaries stop looking so much like higher education. Three people sign off on seminary graduation. Networking, doing missions together, missional fellowship. Asking them to reform and retool themselves. Southwest vs Northwest. Offering facilities. Many churches have limited their feeling of what is “theirs” only to what is under their control. Much more inclusive.


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Report: CMBA NextGen Scouting Trip to New York City
August 2nd, 2006 – August 4th, 2006. Keith Draper & Jon Pennington.

This report is presented as a basic summary of our findings during the interviews we conducted on this trip. As much as possible we are avoiding our commentary, subjective observations, and objective content questions. The purpose of this brief paper is simply to present without critique the views of those we interviewed, and thereby provide information for future dialogue. This information should not be assumed to be the perspective of either interviewer. Clearly all content in the interview needs to be critically evaluated to determine its value to our situation.

Kevin Pounds: The Point Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey
Dealing with the impact of losing SFC funds, wrestling with bi-vocational question.
His church is 1/3 college students, 1/3 “yuppies,” 1/3 young families. Looking at the possibility of a satellite congregation for the young families. Cell church strategy.
Excited about the Leadership Journey system of student missionaries.
Faced problems of adjustments of imported leaders to the northeast, too quickly moving towards a worship service, and overestimating the preparation of students.
Working on connecting both with the community and Rutgers campus.
Prefers serving the community as outreach over mass-marketing approaches.
Ministry outreach examples: water bottles, #2 Pencils, strategic acts of kindness.
Encouraged us to follow up with Aaron Coe in the Gallery Church in NY
Discussed cost/benefits of separate NextGen organization beyond Association.

Paul Gomez: Christ Communities House Churches in Manhattan, New York
Experimenting with developing a multiplying church planting network in center city.
Has structured house churches adequately to receive SBC blessing, but not funding.
Effectively reaching out to young professionals in the center city.
Mobility of population seen as a benefit in blessing the Kingdom.
Focuses on outreach that involves using the natural skills and interests of members to congregate a group for evangelization (i.e. golf outing)
Emphasizes the need to seek to understand the worldview of the people groups.
Appeals to people through their needs: social contact, intellectual conversation, and their drive to be involved in the community.
Discipleship arises through natural relationships focused on these integral human needs.

Andrew Mann: Graffiti Church #2 in Bronx, New York
Ministry in one of the five most dangerous neighborhoods in the city.
Has a history with Armitage, but prefers Graffiti model because it is more personal.
Was working that day with a mission team from down south teaching neighborhood kids how to play tennis.
Gave us a tour of the facilities they are remodeling as a kind of community center.
Discussed briefly the history of their church in spreading service into that community.
Focuses first on ministries, later on attempting to start worship service & programs.
Noted that people in the inner city will not get involved based on material things, but will get involved based on relationships they can trust. [surprisingly similar to 20 something alternatives]

Mark Reynolds: Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, New York
Strongly suggested the leadership network in Dallas as a resource.
Redeemer contextualizes with abandon. Looking for planters w/ catalytic capabilities.
Outlined extensive interview & reference process for assessment. Materials available.
Bi-vocational is not an option since they need planters of a certain level of sophistication in the capabilities.
Focusing their outreach and multiplication on global center cities.
Alternatives and college students are not a people group they focus on because they are too “unstable” and tend to leave the city after a season.
They have more college students attending than “any church on the eastern seaboard” but they do nothing in particular to focus on ministering to them.
Don’t target twentysomethings directly, don’t be a marketer or attractional.
People ministering in the center cities tend to fail because: not contextualized, misinformed, poor methodology, simplistic, lack a robust theological vision, underestimate challenge.
They are looking for plants that are: strategic, financially well supported (millions), higher profile, saturation.
House churches won’t work because of: urban mobility, congregational attrition, demands of gainful employment, and cannot produce leaders.

JR Vassar: Manhattan Christian Church in Manhattan, New York
Met with him in a coffee house near his mid-town Manhattan office.
Compared and contrasted some of the strategies C3 and his church are using.
Discussed his perspective of the vitality of Presbyterian ecclesiology (Acts 29 Network)
Outlined the successes of their attempts (running around 100 after 1 year).
He shared about their first year budget of $1,000,000 and how they raised that kind of money from churches and individuals.
Discussed the ridiculous expenses he is facing in the city (i.e. $1500 per week rent)
He showed me a great idea of a subway map in a business card that they have mass distributed as a service to the community (100,000 of them) through mission teams. Of their 12 baptisms that first year 11 were related to that distribution.

Beyond these five there are a couple of other planters in the area we still need to try to touch base with over the phone or via email. We also can easily think of many other cities in North America and globally that could be of benefit for our team to examine. One conclusion we draw is that it might be helpful to annually gather those working on NextGen projects around the country for brainstorming sessions and encouragement. We would be excited to host that kind of gathering next year.

Next Generation Taskforce Update (2/27/06)

Greetings everyone!

Even though our attendance was a bit low this last meeting we actually made a lot of progress towards a strategy. Here is a quick update:

1) We realize we need to raise awareness across the association of the need of reaching a next generation. We know this will be challenging, especially for churches that see themselves as struggling for survival. We are excited for the March 27th meeting to be interpreting the theme of “Preparing Now.” We are planning on a worship set by Immanuel Baptist Church, preaching on a passage that emphasizes our commitment to sound biblical doctrine and grounds reaching the next generation in the text, and a vision casting session that uses multimedia, testimonies, and statistics to help people realize their great need.

2) We intentionally balance our passion for creativity in outreach with a deep commitment to biblical evangelicalism. Because of that, as a taskforce we are planning to read, critique, and discuss core philosophical writings that impact the emerging church and post-modern Christians. We will be starting by reading and critiquing: A Generous Orthodoxy by Brian D. McLaren

3) We hope to create networks around the city for those ministering to the different age clusters in the next generation. We are convinced that children’s workers in our various churches would benefit from knowing each other, the same for youth workers, the same for college ministers, and 20-something pastors. These networks can serve are resources for people who are looking for new ideas in reaching the particular age group. These networks will also have to form dialogue between themselves to ensure a smooth transition of discipleship as young people graduate from one group to another.

4) Clearly the task of reaching 500,000 college students in this entire region is beyond our current resources, let alone the 1.5 million people below the age of 30. We need to narrow that focus to pilot some programs, events, and communities that will serve as laboratories for us to implement findings across the city. Thus, we hope to mobilize all of our networks in working on a small set of projects that can help us overcome our current learning curve. For these projects we are setting the following parameters:

a) We will focus on college students: Youth workers can refer students as the graduate. We loose a vast majority of them as they go off to college.

b) We will focus on congregation planting: By starting congregations (as opposed to campus ministries) we can avoid loosing the students as the graduate from college, and we can help them become more involved in the communities around the campuses. This also would help with dealing with the commuter issue.

c) We will focus on the schools in Chicago’s loop: The loop has ties both to the city and suburbs. There are 50,000 college students in a variety of campuses in the loop. This gives us a highly limited geographic area to focus on, which is deeply unchurched, easy to access, recognizable by all, etc. This center city approach will easily allow us to spread the movement from that bull’s eye out into the rest of the city and suburbs.

5) In order to accomplish this outreach strategy we will focus on the following mega-steps:

a) We will identify 4 semester missionaries to research the different campuses in the loop. They can stay at ThePoint/C3 in Lakeview. They will research demographics, philosophy, student ministries, the student bodies, the community, etc. and turn those studies into 4 detailed reports by the end of the semester.

b) We will then form a planting team of 4 consultants. These are to be full-time roles. They will be funded by dividing up the 1 full-time role for college ministry we have approval for from the IBSA/NAMB into four quarters, putting them through assessment and seeking church planting funding for them, and looking for college ministry funding from the IBSA. Income beyond that they will be expected to raise on their own from their support network. They will be intimately connected to an existing church as a branch or daughter church, and will receive discipleship from that pastor. Their goal will be to form a cluster of congregations in the loop focused on reaching out to the particular schools the semester missionaries researched. We will seek support from all of the networks we form for these new roles.

c) They will present their discoveries in a way that can be used by all of networks involved in support them. They will help us to find ways to multiply their works out into the rest of the city and suburbs.

We still have a lot of details to resolve, but that is currently how far we have gotten. Thanks for your patience with us. This is a very daunting task. All of these plans are VERY tentative, please give and input or suggestions you have. Also, for those in the taskforce who were not there, this is the first you are seeing these suggestions, anything you see here is still in the dream phase… please help us to mold these dreams.

Following Jesus,

Pastor Jon Pennington

NextGen Strategy for the Chicagoland Area

By Rev. Jon Pennington, Coordinating Pastor of C3, and Consultant for CMBA

With the collaboration of the CMBA Next Gen Taskforce

20 June 2006

The Statistical Problem

  • 125+ college campuses around the Chicagoland area.
  • 500,000+ college students studying on those campuses.
  • Only 1 full time Baptist collegiate worker in the entire region.
  • Other collegiate ministries equivalently weak.
  • Around 3 million people under the age of 25 in the region by 2009.
  • 35.9% of the people in Chicagoland are under 25 years old.
  • Based on Adam Shield’s study, Chicago is the least churched city in America.
  • According to Barna, only 3 out of 10 twentysomethings attend church each week.
  • According to Barna, there is a 58% decline from the ages of 18 to 29
  • 50,000+ college students (10%) attend school in Chicago’s loop.

Our Functional Assumptions

  • A NextGen Strategy should include everyone from birth to 35 years old.
  • A strategy for Chicago should eventually impact both Cook & DuPage Counties.
  • A NextGen Strategy should focus efforts first on college students.
  • Church planting is the best way to implement any missions strategy.
  • A center-city approach is ideal in reaching a large urban people group.
  • Investing in the ministries of people is preferred to investing in properties.

A Developing Solution

  • Form networks of Children’s workers, Youth workers, College workers, and emerging church planters to function both as encouragement and resourcing for strategy. These become “brain trusts” of people who are “experts” in these areas of ministry. Their dialogue could be helpful to each other, and also to churches interested in beginning NextGen ministry.
  • Create a series of blogs to serve as the collection pools for this resourcing information.
  • Use semester missionaries to begin detailed research of the campuses in Chicago’s loop area.
  • Create a multi-media flier/DVD that will generate excitement in Associational church to be involved in the networks and vision.
  • Draw significant funding from collegiate ministries and church planting to help subsidize the starting of four new congregations in Chicago’s loop focusing on loop campuses (Roosevelt, Columbia, DePaul, etc).
  • Create a CMBA NextGen Extension Coordinator ½ time position. Use funding both to support Coordinator’s consulting efforts and his involvement in a flagship NextGen church. Coordinator will serve as the link between campus ministries and the new work team. This coordinator role should be split between someone for planting and someone for development.
  • A church presence will add stability to the collegiate ministry, and allow them to also reach twentysomethings in close proximity. Many of those attending college in the loop end up living or working in the loop after graduation.
  • Many schools with campuses in the loop also have campuses around the city (i.e DePaul, Loyola, Northwestern), expand work over the years by staring additional congregations near related campuses.
  • Work next on campuses close to the loop: UIC, University of Chicago, etc.

Current Situation

  • A taskforce has been assembled to discuss strategies and begin forming the initial networks. They are currently meeting quarterly.
  • Primarily involved in this network are: Lewie Clark (Church Planter in Logan Square), Nathan Carter (Pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Pilson), Ash Hodges (College Pastor for Chicagoland Community Church), Dave Arnold (Church Planter in Albany Park), Jon Pennington (Coordinating Pastor of Chicagoland Community Church, CMBA New Work Team), and various others. Jon Pennington is serving as team leader.
  • There is a growing excitement by those involved to move forward and begin the stated strategy.
  • Opportunities are presenting themselves frequently in different denominational meetings for Jon Pennington to teach about the emerging church.
  • We have some form of campus ministry actively functioning or beginning on the following campuses: Northwestern in Evanston (Evanston Baptist Church), Chicago State University (Full Time Position), DePaul/Moody (Chicagoland Community Church), Northeastern/NorthPark (Bridge City Church), UIC (Immanual Baptist Church)
  • There is a serious need to find ways to involve African American churches and Ethnic churches more in the NextGen conversation.
  • We need to also find more ways to include suburban churches and the younger age groups (children, youth) in on the dialogue.
  • Nick Kim has begun to work together with Jon Pennington to cover the church development side of the project.

Immediate Goals

  • Collect research data to develop a position paper defending the importance of reaching the next generation and being involved in the emerging conversation.
  • Read numerous books and discuss them as a team, that help us better understand the emerging church.
  • Recruit, train, and provide room & board for semester missionaries.
  • Discover and assess potential church planters for the loop congregation.
  • Establish the Next Gen Planting Coordinator Position and Next Gen Development Coordinator Position.
  • Begin promotional marketing plan to Association churches.
  • Ensure quarterly meetings of each of the NextGen networks.