Jon Peacock urges leaders to put the “local” back in “local church”.
Jon Peacock is a church planter and leader that you need to be tracking with. He leads a church in the suburbs of Chicago called Mission Church is focused on reaching 10 communities within reach of their church. Since October of 2011, they’ve been asking the question “what if we, the people of The 10, could set aside our differences and come together for one common goal? Can you imagine, if together we could make The 10 a better place? Can you imagine if we began to truly love our neighborhoods? Can you imagine if we linked arms to do what no single person or organization could do on their own, but only what a unified city could accomplish together. We hope you join us toward this end. We truly need your passion, your unique skill set and your commitment to make a lasting difference in The 10.” Listen in as Jon shares his passion for the church making a difference in the community!
00:34 // Rich welcomes Jon to the show.
01:02 // Jon talks about the beginnings of Mission Church.
02:59 // Jon talks about The Ten: the communities that Mission Church serves.
05:38 // Jon talks about naming his church, having to have accountability in the name.
08:05 // Jon talks about My 60 and the impact it’s had.
10:50 // Rich talks about the importance of getting the culture right.
11:30 // Jon talks about the importance of having the right staff and leadership to encourage the culture and to live out the vision.
13:00 // Jon gives an example of how he connects with his neighbors.
14:05 // John talks about the motivation behind writing his book, Unfinished: The Starting Line of Surrender.
16:32 // Jon remind people: ‘Don’t forget your first love’.
Helpful Tech Tools // Tim Keller’s sermons: Redeemer Presbyterian Church
Ministries Following // Soul City Church
Influential Book // Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton
Inspiring Leader // Wayne Brock, Boy Scouts of America
What does he do for fun? // Cooks on his Big Green Egg. Running. Outdoors.
Rich – Alright, well happy Thursday everybody, welcome to the unSeminary podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in, for putting us in your earbuds today, super appreciate that. Thanks for taking time out from doing whatever it was you’re doing this morning, to just listen in.
Today we’ve got a great conversation with a church leader I’ve been looking forward to talking to for quite a while, Jon Peacock from Mission Church in the Greater Chicagoland Area, he’s going to tell you about the church, but Jon welcome to the show.
Jon – Thanks it’s great to be here with you guys.
Rich – I’m so glad you’re here. I got introduced to Jon by a friend, a mutual friend, Christie Rudder, who’s actually been on the podcast in the past. I really am excited to hear about Mission Church. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your church, you’ve just celebrated a big anniversary didn’t you?
Jon – Yeah three years was this past Sunday.
Rich – Nice, congratulations.
Jon – Thank you. Yeah we started with just a few of my friends and it’s been incredible to see what God’s done over the past three years. We planted this church in my hometown, which is in Roselle, which no one’s heard of. A lot of people put us as Schaumburg, it’s not too far from that area, but we’re located in an area that we’ve named ‘The Ten’. There’s ten communities that we’re committed to serving for the rest of our lives.
So three years ago, a few of us, we just began… we grew up in this community and we said, “We really want to see what would happen if we were to really live out the vision we see in the Gospel of John in Chapter 1, where Jesus moved out of Heaven and into the neighborhood. What would happen if we said we’re probably not going to change the world, but what if we were to love ten towns for the rest of our lives? What could happen if we kind of narrow our focus; perhaps we could deepen our impact?”
So we’ve been trying to really live out, what I consider a neighborhood church model. In part there’s some attraction to it as well, it’s a little bit of ‘end’ if you’re familiar with that kind of description. We been asked what would happen if we were to really live this thing out, not just one day a week, but seven days a week. So we’ve been amazed at what God’s done in the last three years.
Rich – That’s really cool. Give us a sense of these ten communities, obviously they’re all unique, but give us a sense of the personalities of these communities.
Jon – Unique is good. It depends on the community. One town that a lot of people have heard of is the Medina, because of the Medina Country club; I think the top five country club in the world. So that’s mainly known for its country club, not really for the town. It’s mainly unincorporated really. But then next to that you’ve got the town of Addison that’s a huge percentage of Hispanic. Next to that town you have Itasca, that’s not a huge percentage of Hispanic. What’s really neat, what I love about the towns, this is where I’m from, but I love the variety, I love that you just have some variety there. At the same time it’s a different place than even I grew up in.
There’s an article not too long ago that was in the newspaper saying that, “This is not your dad’s DuPage colony anymore,” and due to judgification, the tons of the urban core have moved into The Ten.
Rich – Interesting.
Jon – So we’ve seen that as an opportunity and the amount of work we’ve done in the schools, which we could get to at some point in this podcast, but it’s been to really say, “Wow we have an opportunity to love and serve the poor, we don’t have too drive far.” The reality is they’re across the street, the reality is that’s some of us too. So a number of schools in The Ten have some, even as high as 92%, live under the poverty line.
Rich – Wow.
Jon – But scores of schools in the 80% or 70%. So there’s significant need, at the same time I think it’s part of our job too, to understand what are the assets of The Ten too and let’s try to leverage those.
So that’s a little bit of what The Ten looks like. It depends what town you’re in, it looks and feels different than parts of Carol Stream, as does Glendale Heights, as does Addison or Bloomingdale or Roselle. So it’s kind of neat, a lot of opportunity.
Rich – Interesting. Now on the opener there, you talked about how… obviously with the name Mission Church, I’m assuming that you are trying to engage your people to get beyond just the four walls of your services. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about that and then how do you connect that? You flagged on the front end that you also do some kind of attractional stuff too, how does that blend together for you, how does that actually work its way out in your ministry?
Jon – We say on Sunday that, “We’re gathered to go,” and I really think that’s the vision Jesus has for when His people assemble and I think Jesus wants people to assemble, I think Hebrews is clear on that. I think it’s meant to be more of a launching pad and I think it’s meant to inspire, I think it’s meant to really call us back to the kind of people that we are, we’re image bearers. But I really believe that we were called to go and I really believe that we need to be equipped to go.
So we talk about living this out the other six days of the week. When we thought about what to name this church, that was quite a process. I’ve got two little girls, it was hard naming my kids you know, it was equally as hard naming a church. So that was quite a process but I wanted there to be accountability in the name. You can’t really name something Mission Church if we’re a bunch of… we just kind of sit around and complain or don’t really do anything.
So we’re very action orientated, we have a bias for action, we have a bias for blessing, we have a bias for, again doing what I believe Jesus did and so there’s accountability in the name. Second to that, the mission of God, the Missio Day, I can’t get over that. So what we see from the beginning and I believe is laced all throughout, from Genesis to Revelation is; we worship a sending God. So when we say, “Hey, we gather to go,” we don’t go as a program, we go as an identity. This is who we are, we’re the sent agents of the King.
Rich – Right, I understand it’s not about a program, it’s not about a kind of outreach program, which is obviously somewhat counter-intuitive to actually trying to send people, but how do you encourage people to take action? What is it that you’re actually asking people to engage with and what have been some of the examples of that over the last couple of years?
Jon – One of it is something we call My 60. We said, “Hey, all of us have the same amount of minutes a day, no one gets anymore, no one gets any less, we have the same amount of minutes a day. What if you were, to once a week, take 60 minutes and use those minutes for the good of others?” So we call it My 60 and I’m not going to exaggerate, I think that idea has just rolled the potential, I’ve seen it yield some really great things. It’s not where I think it needs to be yet, so I’m not going to say that has changed the world, it hasn’t yet, but what it has done and this is what I love about it, is it’s helped kind of broaden what counts, so to speak.
Rich – Right.
Jon – So take 60 minutes and that 60 minutes could be a meal with a neighbor, that counts. It could be mentoring an ADMA student, I do that every week. So I know, because it’s into my schedule, I’m in every week. It can mean so many different things and I love that.
So that was really one of the things I’ve been wrestling with for a while. Sometimes we do our people, our churches a disservice when we tell only the huge stories; meaning ‘the guy that left his job to now work at the church’ story, which is great and we have those stories too. Or ‘the guy and his wife that moved to Africa to start an orphanage’. Those are great stories, those need to be told, but I think most people are sitting there staying, “Man I…” So what we want to do is, we want to validate and honor the small acts of heroism where you’re walking across the street.
Rich – Right.
Jon – You know, where you’re having a conversation with someone who you don’t maybe feel like you have anything in common with. So that’s been some of the ideas. In My 60, something we’re really trying to celebrate and talk more about, is get people’s ideas on what it could be, but that’s an example of something that we’ve done and something we continue to do.
I would maybe add this, you can add a lot of ideas but if you don’t have a culture sending it’s going to be hard over the long run.
Rich – That’s very true.
Jon – So I think that’s the majority of the work we’ve done and are doing, is making sure we have a sending culture. Then if you do, it really rings authentic.
Rich – Yeah absolutely, I think that’s such a true point. If you don’t have the culture right it will just be a program right? It will just be something people can check off on a box and it won’t resonate beyond, it won’t drive deep ultimately in people’s lives and have them make the deeper, tougher decisions about… which in some ways are just the normal everyday decisions or sometimes the harder ones, rather than the like, “I’ll show up to your program.”
What are some of those ways you’ve encouraged the culture, obviously probably through preaching, even just celebrating it, trying to package stuff like My 60 together from a communications point of view? What are some of those other things you’ve done to try to encourage a real going culture?
Jon: Part of it is the staff you hire. Part of it is those that are in leadership. You can’t have a culture if those in leadership don’t live out that culture. I think that is so obvious when I say it, but when you take a step back it can be really… that could have just ruined someone’s day, right there. Because I think, often at times when we have, maybe I’ll call it like, mission drift, is people like myself, for whatever reason, that passion, that commitment to live out the vision, which we really started, we’ve drifted and we’re not with people anymore, we’re not having those dinners anymore. Our church has made it, we’re stable or whatever and I think that is a dangerous place to be in.
Rich – Absolutely.
Jon – You turn around and you realize, now we’re just launching program after program to try to fix something but really the route of the matter is those in charge, they’re not living out the vision. So that’s one thing, I don’t hire someone that doesn’t bleed for the [unclear 00:12:51].
Rich – So true, that’s fantastic.
Jon – So that’s one thing. I think another thing is, since we’ve started we’ve just been telling certain stories. A simple story that has really made an impact is around a fire pit, it’s a phenomenon really. Fire pits, they didn’t really exist when we were growing up. I get to go camping, so now they’re everywhere. But one day I moved the fire pit from my backyard to my front yard, into my driveway actually. It was a simple missional idea to try to connect with neighbors and we’ve got tons of people that now have fire pits. So you don’t have to go to graduate school and I’m still not done with graduate school to do stuff like this, it just takes some intentionality to try to gather people together. So I think that has helped and I hope we continue to do things like that.
Rich – Very cool. Now you’ve also just finished a book right, called Unfinished, is that the name of the book or is the book unfinished?
Jon – Thankfully the book is finished but it is titled Unfinished: The Starting Line of Surrender.
Rich – Oh nice, now what motivated you to write that, that’s a big project?
Jon – Yeah, well I just had so much time on my hands.
Rich – Yeah I was going to say, where do you find time to do that?
Jon – Yeah what motivated me was God, it might sound weird, but God whispered that to me, to write it and it’s been a very abhorable process. When I tried to get into seminary, I got in on probation because they said I wrote at an 8th grade level. But I said, “A gifted 8th grade.”
Rich – That’s funny.
Jon – I don’t classify myself as a writer man, I’m more of a barbeque expert than writer. So I really felt God told me I needed to write something short that people would actually finish. The most influential books in my life have been things that Henri Nouwen has written; short books, about 80 pages long. David Benner books, just different short reads, you can pack some insight into those.
So that’s what I did. It’s a short book, I’d hope you’d agree that it has some insight but really the idea is steps matter. You don’t get anywhere without taking steps, but what if you were to be more intentional about the steps you’re taking from a spiritual standpoint? I wanted to give people… really I wrote it to two different types of people. One the person that maybe has grown a little bit tired in their faith, I wrote it for them and hopefully provided some fresh language and insight around some of these steps that they’ve already thought of.
The other person I’ve written it for is that person that’s brand new and just now really open to this idea that Jesus has invited him to follow and call him. So I wrote it for that person too, giving them handles and clarity around what it looks like to follow Jesus.
Rich – Very cool.
Jon – Nice, alright. Well just kind of as we wrap up this part of the interview, is there anything else you’ve love to share with people that are listening in today?
Jon – Ah man, I don’t know exactly who listens to this podcast, but what I would say today is, don’t forget your first love. So to the guy out there, like myself, that’s working hard and working on a sermon yet again, let’s not be guilty of preaching great sermons and forgetting our first love. To the business owner, let’s not be guilty of building a great business yet forgetting our first love. To the stay-at-home mom, let’s not be guilty of doing a great job with the kids today and that’s important, yet forgetting your first love. Even to the guy that’s leading this podcast…
Rich – I appreciate that.
Jon – Of putting something together that’s great and it really is a good resource, yet forget your first love. I really feel like that’s what it’s all about.