Free Chicago Ministry Training
My name is Katie. I currently live in the US, in the third largest city and murder capital of the country, Chicago, IL. I’ve lived here for 28 years, and I couldn’t be more in awe that God has called me to the adventure of building a lighthouse in the middle of this dark, yet beautiful city. I’ve been part of a church plant for the past 5 years. Our church is located in a super young, trendy neighborhood, where most people are desensitized and completely turned off by the word church. Before launching our church, we interviewed 30 people in the neighborhood: 28 of them had been to church, had a bad experience, and were not interested in going back, 1 person had never been to church and would be open to checking it out, and 1 person was currently attending church. Needless to say, doing ministry here is HARD. People have seen it, done it, and want nothing to do with it again. To be honest, in my city, it’s more socially acceptable to tell someone you are a drug dealer than a pastor.
I grew up in a home with five older siblings and my father. My parents divorced when I was about 2, and my dad raised all 6 of his children on his own. Therefore, he had to work A LOT, to support us. That being the case, I didn’t see him very often, and I didn’t see my mom very often either, so I pretty much raised myself, with the help of my siblings, who were all trying to raise themselves at the same time. I didn’t have very much growing up, but one thing my dad was committed to was sending his children to a private school, where we could learn about the Lord. So I grew up learning about the Bible and God as a concept, but I never learned about the relational aspect.
Being the youngest, I was exposed to A LOT very young. My older siblings all got into drugs, drinking, and living a promiscuous lifestyle. Most of them dropped out of high school. As the youngest, I saw how much my older siblings’ decisions and actions hurt my dad and took a toll on him, and I grew up with a mindset of “I never want to be like them.” My dad was doing the best he could, and as much as I wish he were around more physically and emotionally, I now see how much he sacrificed to provide for his children.
Fast-forward into my later teenage years, and I started to allow the absence of my parental figures affect me, and I used that as an excuse to rebel and act out and go down paths I never intended to go down—drinking, drugs, depression, suicide, self-mutilation. Even though deep in my heart I always knew these things were wrong, I chose to do them anyway, as a way of sticking up my middle finger to life. I felt justified in my actions, and like I had every right to act out. You can imagine where this road led me. Absolutely nowhere. I lived three very dark years, and was so unhappy and so unfulfilled. I felt lonely and confused and honestly had no desire to live if this is what the next 60 years of my life were going to look like. I hated my life, but I had no other solution or answers.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college, when everything changed. I transferred into a Christian College my sophomore year (for financial reasons). I didn’t even know what a Christian University was, until I got there, and was wondering why everyone was so “nice”. I say nice in quotation marks because in my mind, it was all fake. I honestly never looked at humanity at being genuine and good, so anytime someone, was nice to me, I became skeptical. Being at this Christian University when I wasn’t walking with the Lord was definitely a challenge, in fact I almost got kicked out because I was caught partying one too many times. By the grace of God, He kept me there. At the end of my sophomore year, I remember walking to class one day and in the middle of campus, I feel like God came down and rescued me. I instantly had the clearest revelation of the reality of Jesus. I looked around and I saw life for the first time—people all around me filled with joy and simplicity. I knew that was God beckoning me into a relationship with him. So I stopped, and said, “okay God, if this is you, I’m willing to give it a go. I am all in. If you aren’t the solution, like nothing else I’ve ever tried has been the solution, then I’ll keep searching, but if you are the solution, then I choose you.”
Needless to say, Jesus has transformed my life, and I’ve been on a journey of falling more in love with him for the past seven years. I have experienced so much freedom, deliverance, redemption, and purpose through my relationship with Him. I don’t know He found me, but I’m so glad He chose me, and I will NEVER turn away from this love that I’ve found in Him. He is my answer until my very last breath.
Please share with us your ministry dream.
My ministry dream is to be on staff at my church. I don’t know exactly what that will look like, and I don’t know that I need to. All I know is that I am called to a BIG life of ministry. I am willing to go wherever that takes me and do whatever that calls me to. I know that I am called to preach and to teach. I also believe that I’m called to SERVE and LOVE people. As I mentioned above, the church that I am a part of is a lighthouse in the middle of a dark city. It’s hard, but we constantly see people encounter Jesus for the very first time, we see lives change, we see healing, restoration, redemption, and forgiveness. We allow people to come as they are, and we love them through their journey. Our vision is to build lighthouses around the world, and I’m willing to go wherever God takes me and pour my life into building lighthouses around the world.
I identify with Church Planter most, but also with a small group leader and pastor. Being part of my church since before it even launched has given me the real feel of what it’s like to plant a church, with no money, no resource, and no people! Ha! I have served in every role and worked alongside my pastor for years. I’ve learned so much on what it looks like to run a church from a business aspect, but also what it’s like to just pastor and love people.
When I got saved, I instantly knew and heard from God that I was called to ministry. The more I got involved in church, the more I realized there is no other way I would rather spend my life than to serve and bring others to Jesus. I know what it was like to not know Jesus and not be connected to a body of believers. I also know that the hope and answer are Jesus, and the way to find that and walk that out is through His church. My life looks different than most other people my age, and I’m okay with that, because what an honor it is to serve Jesus and build His house.
As I mentioned above, most people in our city have been to church, had a poor experience, and have no interest in going back. Most have a terrible perception of church. Most think that church is all about shaming you, telling you everything you’re not, and everything you the should/need to be. It’s rare to find someone who actually believes that the church is meant to believe in you and bring out the best in you. Being in a big city as well, there’s a culture of everyone’s just out to build their own empire and establish a secure life for themselves. Everyone’s busy. Everyone is constantly moving. That being the case, there’s no time or room in their lives for church or for God. I also believe that we live in this post-modernistic era where everyone has their own theology and answer for life, and it’s more socially acceptable than ever for people to live out of their homemade theologies. So there’s more opposition than ever as well.
My local church has supported me in my ministry calling by pouring into me to the nth degree. My pastors have walked alongside me for the past five years, pastoring me, mentoring me, and counseling me. They have taught me how to have a relationship with God, how to discover my ministry calling, they helped me discover the gifts and strengths that God has placed inside of me, they have given me opportunities to lead, they have challenged me and coached me, and they have always given me space to be messy and sort things out.
My family is very disconnected from my life and ministry calling, except for my father. My father got saved a few years ago and lived a passionate, dynamic relationship with Jesus. He is my biggest fan and support, and I am his. The rest of my family doesn’t quite understand why I would choose this type of life for myself, and they don’t quite understand it.
I know that I am called to lead and preach and teach the gospel as part of my ministry calling. I believe that CLI is going to provide me with an incredible foundation in the word of God and absolutely challenge and expand my capacity to know God and his word. I am so excited to continue to grow in my love and heart to serve God and people. Even though I have been walking with the Lord for the past seven years, I feel like it’s still just the beginning. I am SO excited to have CLI be an integral part of this adventure!