Fri., Dec. 7 | 7 p.m. | Naperville Campus
FRI., DEC. 6 + SAT., DEC. 7
Enjoy an indoor nativity for the entire family, petting zoo & gourmet hot cocoa bar.
SHOWS AT 5:30 + 7 P.M.
SHOWS AT 5:30 + 7 P.M.
SAT., DEC.14 | 2-7 P.M.
Enjoy free fair-trade coffee and live music while shopping for gifts that give twice!
SUN., DEC. 15 | 1-4 P.M.
Weather permitting, enjoy ice skating outdoors, a hot cocoa/dessert bar and fun for the whole family. FREE skate rental available.
North Aurora Campus
Q: 20 years ago you decided to plant Highpoint Church. What made you leave your jobs, get into ministry and take that step of faith?
A: You know, I remember it was not too long after we became Christians, we had this insatiable desire to tell other people about Jesus. I remember going to family gatherings being a new Christian looking for opportunities to share our newly
found faith with those we loved. It was exciting, and it was scary! We didn’t know what people would think of us. We just knew that we wanted others to know this same saving grace that had been extended to us.
Then I remember going to a friend’s funeral and I could just tell the whole room was ripe for the gospel, because
of course when you’re confronted with death, you’re thinking about what happens after you die. And I remember waiting and waiting for the pastor to tell the room about the hope of a new life, of eternal life, that Jesus offers when you accept Him as your Lord and Savior. And it never came. And I remember driving home from that funeral with tears in my eyes talking to God about the missed opportunity. It was so clear to me that God didn’t want me to focus on what wasn’t said by someone else, but rather what I was being called to say. I sensed Him saying “speak for me.” And that was the beginning of my calling.
To tell you the truth, that insatiable desire to tell other people about Jesus has never gone away, and I don’t think it ever will. We wanted to step out in faith and plant a church so that God could use our lives to reach as many people as possible with the message that Jesus loves you. That He can give you a new life eternal life.
Q: So you took that step of faith to plant a church. How did you feel when you started? What were some of your hopes and dreams for the church 20 years ago?
A: Looking back I feel like we had no clue what we were doing! “Stepping out in faith” is a great way to put it because honestly we were completely dependent on God, trusting Him to make this work. We didn’t know how to plant a church or what would come of any of this!
One of the challenges that was at the forefront of our minds was the fact that we were planting a church in an affluent area of the western suburbs of Chicago. So from the beginning we were praying that God would bring people to our church in a way where the diversity of
our church would exceed the diversity our area.
Before you know it, a huge group of Russian-speaking people started showing up to our church. And while that’s not exactly what we expected when we were praying that prayer of diversity, God has done and is doing some amazing things through our growing and thriving Russian community here at Highpoint.
Over these 20 years we’ve seen people from all walks of life, from all different neighborhoods find a home here. All these years later to see Highpoint en Español launch, it feels like a reminder that God is still answering the simple prayers of our heart when we were a couple hundred people in a high school. As we look at Highpoint Church now after 20 years of ministry, it’s such a blessing to see a small representation of what Heaven will look like when all tribes and tongues will worship at the feet of Jesus together and we’re just getting started!
Q: Through the church’s history we’ve sent out and planted quite a few church plants. Was that always part of the plan?
A: Church planting has always been a part of the DNA of our church. We were a church plant and were planted with the philosophy that a healthy church should be growing, multiplying and reproducing. That’s why from the beginning we always had a vision to raise up leaders, and send them out to plant churches around the country, and around the world.
It’s crazy to think that over these 20 years we’ve planted over 10 churches, and that those churches are planting other churches! I had the great privilege of speaking at a church last year that was planted by a church we planted. They were our grandchild church, so to speak! It’s been an amazing and humbling journey to see God use this church to reach not just the western suburbs of Chicago, but to bear fruit in planting churches around the world.
Most recently, God really dropped an opportunity into our lap to run farther and faster in the area of church planting. The North American Mission Board approached us to partner together to make us what they call a “hub” church in Chicago for church planting. As they saw all of the fruit coming out of our church plants and campuses, they’ve become a ministry partner to help pour gas on that fire.
In November 2019, the Highpoint Send Network was established, our very own church planting network, and a pastoral residency program began where we will be training pastors to be sent out on an annual basis, planting churches and campus locations here in Chicago, across the country, and around the world.
Q: It wasn’t that long ago that Highpoint just existed in the Naperville location. Fast-forward a few years and now Highpoint has 4 locations (Naperville, Wheaton, North Aurora, and Bolingbrook/Romeoville). How did the vision for new locations come about?
A: Back when we planted in the early 2000s, the prevailing church growth model was to build big auditoriums and have people come to us. This worked for a while because there are a lot of benefits of being a part of a larger structure. Bigger churches have more resources and can do a lot of ministry. People can get involved in a lot of different ways.
However, what we observed from other churches was that people still wanted that feeling of intimacy and being a part of a church in the community where they lived. It’s an interesting situation where many people desire the resources and ministries of a larger church (kids, students, missions, etc), but they still want to connect in a more relationally intimate setting. There’s also a danger in the philosophy of expecting people to come to us. With the multi-site strategy, what we’re trying to communicate is that we are constantly sending people into their community, into their schools, into their workplaces as we live life as “missionaries” for Christ. Throughout the Gospels we see Jesus seeking out the people who needed Him. Likewise, we want to go meet people in their communities where they’re at and be known as a place that shares the love of Jesus and meets the needs of the people.
Q: Over the last few years The Marriage Knot Conference and Marriage Knot book have been making incredible impact. Can you share how you and Jody have been investing in marriages?
A: It’s been incredible. Jody and I have been saying it like this: God has turned our mess into our message! Completely humbling that God would turn two broken people on the brink of divorce in our first year of marriage into a tool for His glory helping enrich and restore marriages around the world. Last year alone we did 10 of these conferences, one as far as Romania where they translated The Marriage Knot book into Romanian!
We’ve seen firsthand the restoring power that the gospel can have in our lives, and particularly in our marriage. These last few years we’ve been privileged to pour into thousands of couples and their marriages. We’ve seen couples who, like us, were on the brink of divorce, attend the conference as a last-ditch effort, and find reconciliation and healing. We’ve seen couples go from being stagnant in their relationship to fully engaged.
It’s been such a blessing that God would use us and our story in this way. We’ve already done 5 conferences in 2020 with more on the horizon, and we’re excited to see God continue to work.
Q: What’s been the biggest thing you’ve learned over the last 20 years?
A: Planting a church and doing day-to-day ministry is not an easy calling. It shouldn’t be done alone. And unfortunately, we live in a day and age where we see too many pastors and ministry leaders falling from ministry for a slew of reasons. It’s a sobering reality. In fighting the good fight, it can become easy to lose sight of why they got into ministry in the first place and make compromises.
One of the biggest things we’ve learned is to surround ourselves with people more experienced than ourselves. We want to learn from people’s wisdom and mistakes to avoid pitfalls, stay rooted firm in our faith, remain humble and holdfast to our calling. We’ve also learned to surround ourselves with people who aren’t as far along in ministry as we are, so that we can come alongside and disciple them.
Q: What are you seeing in 2020 that maybe is unique or you see differently than you did when you first planted the church?
A: As the “big C” Church has moved into the 21st century the culture has changed a lot. Secular culture has changed a lot. Church culture has changed a lot (it really wasn’t too long ago that I was preaching in a suit and tie)! As time goes on, the biggest challenge as God has really blessed and grown us has been: how do we remain “small” as we get big?
We’re continually growing and learning in this area, striving really hard to provide places for people to be known, cared for, and loved as God continues to bless this work and grow us in numbers. We don’t want anyone to get lost or fall through the cracks. We pray continually for the people who walk in our doors that they would find a spiritual home here. That’s looked different throughout the seasons of our church over the last 20 years, and we’re sure it’ll look different in the future.
Q: Well a lot has happened in 20 years! What are some of your hopes for the future of Highpoint Church?
A: 20 years ago we could not have imagined all that’s transpired as God has built His church. So it’s hard to say what Highpoint Church will look like in the next 20 years. But I know that we’ll never lose that desire to make Jesus known and bring people into a relationship with Him. Our hope for Highpoint is that we relentlessly stay on mission for God to help people believe in, belong to, and become more like Jesus.
There are just so many things you don’t know, so many things you can’t know or can’t predict. But we rest assured knowing that God knows. All of the amazing ministry that’s happened over the last 20 years has been God working in and through us. None of this would have been possible without Him. Do we know what Highpoint will look like 5, 10, 20 years from now? No. But we know one thing for sure: He’s not finished yet.