Equipping Leaders to Develop Church Planters in Chicago

*Originally posted on Redeemer City to City in April 2017*

“Our vision is to see a movement of church planting in Chicago that helps Jesus Christ to be tangible in every neighborhood in our city.” 

These are the words of Jon Dennis -- a pastor who has always loved cities and planted Holy Trinity Church in downtown Chicago 20 years ago. In 2000, four years after planting, Jon attended an event where Tim Keller spoke about the importance of collaboration and cooperation in reaching a city with the gospel. Inspired by what he heard, Jon returned to Chicago, and Holy Trinity Church partnered with two other churches to create a fund that would give small grants to city church plants. When Jon saw that there were others who shared his passion for urban church planting, he helped start the Chicago Partnership for Church Planting (CPCP). 

“We assess church planters, give them a grant, and then coach them," says Jon. "But to go to the next level, we knew we needed more in-depth training.” 

Working with Redeemer City to City made perfect sense.

Having seen it at work in Latin America and Australia, Jon knew that CTC had the resources and the program that CPCP needed. “City to City not only brings great content, great coaching and time-tested material, but there’s also flexibility that lets you work it out in your own city.” 

At the end of 2016, CPCP hosted a Train the Trainer event led by Mark Reynolds and John Thomas, both from CTC. Train the Trainer prepares local leaders to train urban church planters. The program orients trainers to CTC’s urban church planter Incubator curriculum, a two-year course that can be adapted and delivered in their city. Twenty-three leaders attended, with 14 being from Chicago. The other leaders were from San Diego, the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle. 

The event was a unifying factor that brought these leaders together. Though they may be from various denominations, they are united over mission and their love for their cities. They went home to their city as learning communities and as networks ready to work together.

Jon and his team have a vision of planting 100 churches in Chicago in 10 years, and they're now better equipped to see a gospel movement in their city. “Chicago is known for a lot of things right now, and Jesus is not necessarily one of them,” says Jon. “My hope is that in 20 years, people will look back and see that our city is a totally different city. They’ll wonder what happened, and the answer will be that God did something.”

Jon Lauriat