Teens take on church planting in Chicago

Meredith Flynn —  July 14, 2014

Students and their leaders at ChicaGO Week pray for specific neighborhoods that are in need of a new church.

How do you introduce junior high and high school students to the intricacies of church planting in one of the country’s largest cities?

Take them there, and let them try it out.

More than 50 teens will spend this week working alongside five church planters in Chicagoland as part of the first-ever ChicaGO Week, a project sponsored by the Illinois Baptist State Association. The week kicked off July 13 at Judson University in Elgin, where youth groups from Harrisburg, Chicago, and several places in between will gather for worship after days at their project sites.

prayer_2During the opening worship service, the students heard from someone with lots of experience juggling the responsibilities of church planting.

And lots of experience with actual juggling too.

Ken Schultz is a professional entertainer with the stage name “The Flying Fool.” He’s also co-pastor of Crosswinds Church in Plainfield, a church he started several years ago with nuclear engineer John Stillman.

“God uses my juggling and John as a nuclear engineer to help grow a church,” Schultz told the students. Crosswinds has an average weekly attendance of 120 people, and 60% of those came to Christ through the church’s ministry.

“John makes killer spreadsheets,” Schultz said of his co-pastor. “I do this,” he said, before wowing the crowd by juggling three long knives.


Pastor Ken Schultz used his juggling and unicycle-riding skills in a message on boldness.

“What are you good at?” Schultz asked the students. “Can God use that to build his church?

“He can. You just need to give it to him.”

This week, they’ll do just that at Backyard Bible Clubs, through prayer walking and community clean-up projects, and by offering their time to church planters working hard to get to know their neighbors. It’s a lot to juggle, but God empowers His people to do His work.

“Let this generation be bold, let them be bold as lions for your glory and your good,” Schultz prayed at the end of his message. “If You can use a silly guy who juggles, You can use anybody.”


Meredith Flynn


Meredith is managing editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper.