SDB Chicago

The Place We Call Home

It’s crazy to think that we have officially been in Chicago for one year. As we retrace our journey of how we landed in Rogers Park, it’s easy to see how the Lord goes before us. We didn’t choose Rogers Park. In fact, this was not even a place we looked at when we came to “scout out the land” as some of our church family lovingly called it. We only found the two-flat that we have because of a few “coincidences.” Little did we know that where God planted us was going to be the best place for us.

In May, John sent us a “Know Your Community Report” from Church Answers. When reviewing the demographics and psychographics of the neighborhood, we were left in wonder. We fit some of the major demographics of this community (25-44 year-olds make up the majority of the population, average household size is 2.2, 55% have a college education, 46% is politically independent/middle of the road). This served as confirmation that we landed right where God intended us.

Rogers Park is hemmed in by Sheridan to the east, Howard to the north, Ridge to the west, and Devon to the south.

After being here a year, we have gotten to the point where we have mostly settled into our new neighborhood. We have learned a lot, like where to get the best used tires or a really good breakfast, and still have a lot to learn. The honeymoon phase is over and we can see the challenges that are ahead for us and our community.

The community where God planted us has the nickname of “Little Chicago” because it’s just as culturally and ethnically diverse as the whole of Chicago, but packed into 1.84 square miles. There are over 55,000 people (26,000 households) that speak more than 60 languages who call the most northern part of Chicago their home. Along with Loyola University and Little India, Rogers Park also has 2.43 acres of Lake Michigan beach front (we live a 1 mile walk from the beach!).

Like Chicago, or any other city for that matter, Rogers Park has it’s challenges. Homelessness, drug use, and crime are present and in your face. The majority of people in Rogers Park (62%) rarely attend religious services or occasionally attend. When you live closer to your neighbors (remember 55,000 people crammed into 1.84 square miles), it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the brokenness.

Where does that leave us? As part of my job, we regularly evaluate how we are doing and I find myself taking stock about what we need to keep, improve, stop, and start as we go into our second year in Chicago. Phil and I have a continual conversation about weather or not the way that we are living enables us to do what we know God has called us to. Our thoughts have changed over this year and will continue to change. However, the one thing that we both know is that God brought us to Chicago to plant His church. With this in mind Phil has begun to think differently about his job. He will be writing about this upcoming transition soon.

When taking a walk around our community, I found this sign that reminded me to do what I can, with what I have been given. I find myself evaluating if my belief and practice align. Am I intentionally pursuing Jesus and being obedient to what I know what He has said? We are blessed to be a blessing. Am I being a blessing to those around me and those I come in contact with? Am I being a good representation of Christ on my daily commute to work? Am I joyful about serving and practicing the “one another’s” with neighbors?

As we prepare for the next transition, pray alongside us for the Lord’s perfect timing and leading. May we continue to be obedient to what He is continually calling us to do. May our relationship with Jesus be our focus.

What things do you need to keep, improve, stop, and start to better align your faith and practice and embody what you say you believe?

Share Update:



Bethany Lawton received a Masters of Information from Rutgers University. She works as an executive assistant for Opportunity International. She and her husband are currently working on a church plant in Rogers Park Chicago.

3 thoughts on “The Place We Call Home

  1. Our prayers are with you. It sounds like you are settling in. We are praying the Lord guides you through His Spirit as you move forward.

  2. We are praying for the Chicago Project every day. You are on our missions prayer list. That keeps you in a broader circle. I will be adding this update to our weekly newsletter and printing it for all who attend in person.

Comments are closed.

Connect with us!

Related Posts

Pastor Phil

Planted by God

Living in Rogers Park I have been regularly reminded that Christians often speak a different language then the world around them. If you didn’t grow up in the church or aren’t familiar with the analogies, then conversations about certain topics can become surreal. I had one such conversation with a guy who came to visit my downstairs neighbor. I told

Read More »
Ask Me Anything
Pastor Phil

The People We Call Neighbors

It’s hard to believe that two years ago this month Bethany and I had just moved to Chicago. We moved here because we knew that God wanted to use us to plant a church here. In fact He wanted to plant a church in this neighborhood. We know this because He is the only reason we were able to live

Read More »
Ask Me Anything
Pastor Phil

The Quest for Truth

If you grew up in the church then you know that questions are not always seen as good things. They are often explicitly prohibited or implicitly silenced. I think there are several reasons for this. Perhaps the most common is that the people being asked the questions don’t have answers themselves. Rather than admit their ignorance they either give some

Read More »