SDB Chicago

Long Obedience in the Same Direction

I want to start this update off with a thank you to everyone who has given to the 50/50 plan. Bethany and I would not have gotten through the last few moths without that support. Even so we are only at 42% of our goal. If you want to support us (through the 50/50 or just in general) you can follow the giving link at the top of this page. If you just want more information on the plan you can read our post on it here

Part of that plan was for me to find part time work. I can excitedly say I am now a part-time SAT/ACT tutor with Academic Approach. I have spent the last two months training in their 1-on-1 program as well as their in-school program. I have taken 2 SAT and 2 ACT tests in that time. As a result, I can say that I have sympathy for high school juniors. Bethany will attest that I have uttered the phrase ‘math is hard’ several times in the last two months. Regardless of the time put in, I am thankful for this job as the hours allow me time to focus on networking and relationship building for the church plant.

In the last update I mentioned the Northside Pastors Network. One of the things they organized was “Carols on Clark.” The pastor’s network started this in 2021. We decided to participate and it was quite an experience. Bethany described it as a caroling parade. Members of the churches walk down Clark Street, the major street in Rogers Park, singing Christmas carols. They have flatbed trailers with sound equipment and people leading the carols in both English and Spanish. The whole time we were escorted by the police.  They did not meet in December and I was unable to attend in January. However, I will be attending the meeting this coming Tuesday. The agenda for the meeting includes a discussion on upcoming outreach opportunities. I am excited for the chance to meet with fellow pastors and see what God is doing here on the northside of Chicago.

The past couple of months I have also been able to meet personally with some other pastors in the area. I was able to go out to coffee with a pastor whose church plant meets in a local school. It was encouraging to hear his story and talk with him about what he sees God doing here in Chicago. We were also invited to the home of one of Bethany’s co-workers for a board game open house. I was among “my people” as Bethany puts it. The husband of this co-worker is a pastor and was involved in a church plant in Wisconsin. Not only were we able to talk that night, but we had the chance to catch up again at one of Bethany’s work events. It is encouraging to be able to share with other pastors.

Those of you familiar with the works of Eugene Peterson will no doubt have recognized the title of this post. I find the sentiment resonating with me of late. I often feel the pressure to produce quick results. When I write these updates I feel like I need to have specific examples of accomplishments to justify what we are doing here in Chicago. I forget that what brought me here was obedience to God. In that obedience, God provided a place to live and income from jobs. We have truly been blessed. God does not require quick results from me, as if I could impress God with my human accomplishments. Rather what God desires is obedience and relationship. It is only in my daily obedience to the call God has for me that this church plant will grow. That growth will not be the result of my charisma or hard work. It will the be the result of the call of God to gather His people to Himself. That call to obedience is the same for every Christian. Praise, fame, and success will come and go. The only constant solid rock is God. He is the sustainer of us all and it is in obedience to Him that we find our true delight. 

May you continue on the path God has set before you. May you learn to slow down. May you remain obedient to the call God has set before you. And may God give you peace on the journey.

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Pastor Phil

Pastor Phil

Philip Lawton received a Masters of Divinity from North Park Theological Seminary. He is an ordained minster in the Seventh Day Baptist Church. He is currently working on a church plant in Chicago.

One thought on “Long Obedience in the Same Direction

  1. Balancing Kingdom timing and western corporate culture is challenging. Well done for recognizing this tension and being faithful to His calling. Welcome to missions! Praying and supporting you both in this journey

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