Exciting Update about Life and Ministry in Chicago
Hello friends and family!
This is an unusually long post, but I really hope you read it! I’m excited to share updates about life and ministry in Chicago, and I have some great information and stories to share below:
Urban Village Church: Going Deeper
- In the last eight months, my church, Urban Village Church, has launched a Sunday morning service in Wicker Park (a northwestern neighborhood) and Hyde Park (a southern neighborhood).
- In Wicker Park (my primary site), we are consistently filling the theater with more than 90 persons each Sunday – after starting with 30 last fall.
- We celebrated the church’s three-year birthday not too long ago, with about 400 people in attendance!
- The small group called “Gospel and City Life Group” which I launched in January has a solid 13 people committed to the group. People are going deeper, sharing their lives with one another, becoming roommates, serving the city together, and taking vacations together.
- I have begun discipling an apprentice leader who will launch a new small group this September.
Ministry in My Neighborhood of Logan Square
- One of my friends, whom we can call Beth, recently moved away from Chicago. Beth is not a follower of Jesus, and she has many strong disagreements with the Christian Church. However, she told me that I was “the first Bible-banger that I like”! I believe that seeds of the kingdom have been planted, and I pray that God continues to work in her life.
- About a month ago I met someone whom we can call Drew who expressed interest in having a one-on-one conversation about Christianity. Drew recently graduated from the University of Chicago and is new to my neighborhood. We’ve had coffee a couple of times, and he’s pretty interested in the gospel. Drew is a skeptic, and he had a lot of baggage from his religious background. However, he has initiated these really deep, honest conversations and I’m hopeful for what God might do through this friendship!
For those of you who are new to this email thread, I want you to know why I choose to live in Chicago – despite the sad weather, the horrible politics, and the rampant violent crime. The truth is, God did not call me here. I don’t think God calls anyone to any particular place - apart from an audible voice (which I have not heard!). Rather, I am here because I think that, to obey Jesus’ commission, Chicago is the most strategic place to be. Why?
- Chicago contains more than 2.5 million people who do not follow Jesus.
- Most churches in the city, both of mainline and evangelical varieties, are declining.
- In 2012, gun crimes increased by 10% over the previous year, with 2,460 people shot.
- In the 2011 to 2012 school year, 319 Chicago Public School students were shot, 24 fatally.
- Only 16 of Chicago’s 600+ public schools have full-time social workers.
- Next school year, Chicago is closing 50 public schools, affecting 30,000 students - the largest school closing ever in one U.S. city.
Last time that I wrote, I mentioned my intention to form a small non-profit organization called “Blue Line Mission” that will provide structure to my passion to see followers of Jesus equipped as servants, theologians, and pilgrims in their respective Chicago neighborhoods. The specifics have changed a bit because of some important news.
I am happy to announce that on July 1, 2013, I will begin a one-year internship with Urban Village Church in Wicker Park! This internship will afford me the opportunity to begin the work of Blue Line Mission with an energetic church body and an experienced pastoral staff. My work with Docent Research Group will end soon, and I will begin devoting 10-15 hours a week to Urban Village Church.
My passion for developing leaders who are servants of the church, theologians of the gospel, and pilgrims for the common good has not changed. I still plan to fulfill the goals of my mission; I only add one more:
- Strengthen my network of leaders from various Chicago churches
- Seek to understand what small group leaders need
- Establish a website for Blue Line Mission, and write blogs to encourage and spark ideas for urban Christian leaders
- Develop as a servant, theologian, and pilgrim under the leadership of Urban Village Church.
Support in Prayer and Finances
As I have said before, I am wildly grateful for your love, support, prayers, and encouragement since I moved into the city one year ago. I invite you to support me in prayer and in finances for this new chapter of my life in Chicago. I will receive a monthly $500 stipend for my internship with Urban Village Church, and I must raise the funds from ministry partners like you. I am excited for you to have a direct hand in what God is doing in and through me here in Chicago. Please consider what you would like to give, and fill out a pledge form online by clicking here.
I believe that God is moving in unique ways in Chicago, and I would love for you to join me in getting swept up. Let’s lean into this fresh movement of God’s kingdom!
Praying all the best for each of you,
M. Caleb Murphree
Servant • Theologian • Pilgrim
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