CHICAGO – Chicago needs 20,000 strong churches in its metro area to have the same ratio of people to churches as Missouri.
That means, according to Keith Draper, director of missions for the Chicago Metro Baptist Association (CMBA), the Windy City needs approximately 15,000 more churches than it has now.
It would be an incredible feat, but it is also one that Draper said the CMBA is working toward. And the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) continues to be an active partner in that process.
“By 2020 we would like to see our churches multiply their ministries ten-fold in the city and suburbs to reach over 2,000 new neighborhoods and communities,” said Draper, who has also served through the North American Mission Board (NAMB) as a missionary in the Chicago metropolitan area for the last 25 years. “To see that kind of rapid growth we know we need to focus on three areas: growing leaders, growing churches and growing God’s Kingdom.”
They are off to a good start. Last year the CMBA saw a record 18 new churches planted. They are currently working on 91 projects throughout the city, most of them without a partnering church.
“We are growing God’s Kingdom primarily through church planting,” Draper said. “We need established churches to partner with our church starts and projects, either alone or several churches together. For example, we so appreciate the work that Missouri Baptist Convention President John Marshall and Second Baptist Church, Springfield, have done in helping several church starts across the city over the past years.”
He said whether a potential partner chooses to connect with a church that’s similar to their own or if they want to partner cross-culturally, the CMBA needs churches that are willing to help enter into a new neighborhood or reach out to a new people group.
“With 200 languages spoken in our association and over 2,000 people groups here, quite likely those whom God is giving Missouri Baptists a heart for, as far as the ends of the earth, are right here in Chicago,” Draper said. “Why not start here? We encourage churches to explore what fulfilling the Great Commission could mean for their church in our context.”
The CMBA has made a 7-day Chicagoland interactive prayer guide available on their website, www.chicagobaptist.com. Draper requested Missouri pastors and visionaries read the daily Scripture, watch the one or two video clips offered each day, and pray.
“At the end of the seven days tell us what the Lord has been telling your church using the mission trip form located at the bottom of our home page,” Draper said. “We will then try to match your passions and skills with the many needs of our mission field. God is calling all of us to take the gospel to our cities. If God loves people … and He does … then God loves cities.”