Pastor’s Corner


LINC Chicago

The cities around the world are growing, yet the churches are shrinking. Why should this matter to Yorkville and Kendall County?  I think the best illustration is what often happens at state or federal elections:  the state votes one way, and Chicago votes the other.  “As the city goes, so goes policy.”  Think about that statement for a few minutes, and think about the policies that have changed over the last few decades.

Churches used to be the center of city life. If you go to downtown Chicago, you will still see glorious steeples and structures.  But the impact those churches are making on the people around them are far less glorious.  In fact, many of our city congregations are single-cultured and elderly even as the communities around them get younger and more diverse.  The church with a lessened impact in the cities is a church with a lessened impact in our entire country.

What can we do about this? For the past several generations Christians have moved out of the cities and into the suburbs, promoting stronger congregations in places like Yorkville, Oswego, Naperville, etc.  While this has caused growth in the suburbs, it has left a deficit of resources, people and organizational influence in our cities.  This cannot continue.

The challenges facing the city are not new. The faithful people and congregations serving the city have and continue to do God’s work, but there is increasingly more to be done.  Many of our city churches are shrinking as the population around them grows.  The effect of their influence is lessening even as they work harder.  Is there something we can do to help?

LINC International is a Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod organization that has been trying to think and work differently. They began in Houston, TX and have successfully expanded to Los Angeles, CA, the Twin Cities in MN, and are looking to have a similar impact in Chicago.  LINC is not a church planting group nor do they have a program that fixes everything.  The basis of LINC is that God is already placing His call into the hearts of believers living in the cities.  What is lacking is the full body of Christ working together.  LINC works to network, equip and resource people to accomplish what God has given them the desire for in their hearts.

This may seem too simple, but in fact this is the classic “working smarter not harder strategy.” God has not left the cities.  It is the body of Christ that has been struggling to connect the faithful in mission and ministry.  This last year LINC Twin Cities identified six men who will be entering the seminary, none of whom even knew this was an option.  Three new nonprofit ministries have been started to help victims of sex slavery, provide affordable food and reach the Oromo people group.

This last week I had the opportunity to attend a gathering of suburban congregations and LINC ministries. This exciting opportunity allows the whole body of Christ to work together with the people and financial resources of the suburbs in conjunction with the heart and faith resources of the city.  Over the next few months we will continue to network, pray and listen to hear if God is calling us as a Northern Illinois District to provide resources for the city of Chicago and more specifically, what role Cross will play in it.

If you would like more information or desire to be a part of this, you can contact Pastor Matt or me. You can also look at or on Facebook.  Most importantly, please add the city of Chicago to your prayers, and we’ll see if God grows our heart for a vitally important mission field.


Pastor’s Corner


Loving Sacrifice

Over the past year or two I have thought a lot more about sacrifice than I used to. I can’t honestly explain why this is the case.  It might be that I have children who are getting older and need more resources (time, energy, money, etc.) than ever before.  It could be that I have been working closely with more missionaries around the globe.  It could be I have been working with the Capital Campaign committee. It could be I am reaching an age when you start to think about the choices you make and the impact you are having.  Regardless of the reasons, sacrifice has been on my mind a lot lately.

As we walk through 1 John in this post-Easter season, we arrive at chapter 3 where the author digs deep into the word “love” and quickly arrives at the word “sacrifice.” “By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1 John 3:16.  As I have wrestled with the word “sacrifice” I so often end up thinking and feeling obligation.  What I mean by this is as a person of faith I feel obligated or required to sacrifice in an effort to fulfill my responsibilities.  This mindset greatly restricts and can frequently harm what God is trying to do in me and through me.

2 Corinthians 9 says “God loves a cheerful giver.” If I am giving out of obligation or responsibility, I am seldom cheerful.  If I am giving out of guilt, I usually give the least amount I can give to get rid of the guilty feeling; if I don’t feel obligation, I might not give at all.  If my motivation is obligation, even thinking about helping can feel like a sacrifice.  If I live in love, everything changes.

When I live in love, the amount of time, money or effort seems inconsequential. When I live in love, I will go far beyond whatever is required and not even think about it.  When I am living in love, I work to figure out how to give more than I think I can, and I do it with great joy and energy.  When I live in love, the sacrificial gifts are seen by others well before they are ever felt by me.

As a community of believers at Cross, I am so proud (if I am allowed to be proud) at our gifting and mission mindedness. I believe we look outward and serve others more than many other churches and faith communities.  But we are far from where we could be.  When we live in love – love for the people lost around us, we start to give more.  This giving, even sacrificing, comes from a desire to help others who don’t know Christ or don’t have salvation to know Christ and have eternal life.  When we have love and compassion for others, we recognize we have way more to offer than we ever imagined possible.

How do we grow love instead of growing guilt or obligation? Well, it isn’t easy.  I think this is why we are so often bombarded with calls to obligation or responsibility.  Making someone feel guilty is the easiest way to get them to give you what you want.  But when we love others and that love grows in return, we care, give and help often without needing to ask or be asked.  When we give in love, many of our needs go away because we have fulfillment.

The devil and our flesh try to convince us that obligation leads to giving which leads to emptiness. God reminds us that love leads to sacrifice which leads to fulfillment.  Are you going to fear emptiness or lead a life of love?  Perfect love drives out fear; God’s perfect love for us reminds us we have nothing to fear.  God’s love for the world grows love inside us.  This is how we know love – that we sacrifice so others can know love, too.


Pastor’s Corner

Title Slide

Called:  1 John

Christians are by definition the people of the resurrected Christ. This truth reaches its pinnacle on Easter Sunday.  We celebrate the power of God made known to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!  But here, now, after Easter the question becomes “What does that resurrection mean for me?”  What does it look like to live as a person of the resurrection?  What impact does this truth have in my everyday live?

The answer to these questions has been addressed by theologians and scholars for millennia. The problem is someone else’s answers to these questions easily become new rules for us.  In 1 John we are called to be who God has made us to be.  I like the word “called” because it inspires but does not demand; it instructs but does not threaten.

God calls us to recognize not only who He is but also what He has done for us. In our worship of God we both admire Him because He deserves it but also thank Him for the gifts He gives to us.  When we are truly thankful for the gifts we have received, we want to use them to do good or share them with others so they can have them, too.  But we don’t always feel like sharing.

When we are tempted to be selfish and keep the gifts for ourselves, when we are blind and believe we have earned all we have, when we look down on others for the challenges they face, God calls us to see the truth. God calls us, enlightens us to be continuously transformed from people bound by the flesh into people free in the Holy Spirit.  Living in freedom is not easy in a world that wants to imprison you with jealousy or insecurity or some other inadequacy.

As people of God we are called out of the darkness and into the light. We are called to remember we are His children.  We are called to forgive and receive forgiveness.  We are called to love because He first loved us.  These things cannot be accomplished by our will and strength but by His strength gifted to us.  Join us for the next seven weeks as we hear His call and respond in faith.




Pastor’s Corner


Welcome to the Team!

 It has been an eventful Lenten season around Cross (like it always is). This year, our multi-talented Youth Minister/Technical Coordinator/ Worship Leader David Thanepohn left to work at Chick-fil-A in Peoria, IL. These shoes are not easy to fill and yet needed to be filled rapidly. We are very pleased to have two Committed Disciples who are willing to step up and serve on a part-time basis. It is my pleasure to introduce them to you now!

Grant Riehle-Moeller will be serving as our interim Youth Minister. Grant was born into the family of faith at Cross in 1996. He attended school at Cross, from preschool through 8th grade, graduating in 2010. He then went on to attend Newark Community High School. During his time at NCHS, he played basketball and took a leadership role for various teams and school clubs. Following his graduation from high school in 2014, Grant attended and played basketball at Lincoln Christian University. Grant began to realize college wasn’t the place for him and prayerfully decided to leave after one year. He promptly started his first company, works in graphic arts, signed a contract to publish his first book, and began a speaking career.

Grant is new to the staff but has worked and volunteered in various areas at Cross. Grant was on the team that created and wrote the “Living N’ Active” discipleship material for Cross, served on staff at Caring Hands Thrift Store and currently serves on the Capital Campaign house visit team. Outside of Cross, Grant works with Yorkville Christian High School in various roles with their students that include mentoring, coaching, and teaching. He also works with “Help. Sorry. Love, NFP,” an organization created to assist individuals and organizations to lead better lives emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically.

Ryan Schmeckpeper will serve as our Interim Worship Tech Assistant. Ryan is the husband of our pre-school teacher, Cathy Schmeckpeper. They were married in 1998 and moved to Yorkville in 2001. Ryan and Cathy built their first home in Yorkville with Ryan serving as the General Contractor and doing much of the work himself. After 18 years as a firefighter, Ryan retired. He loves to do custom woodworking, making items such as display cases, fish tank cabinets and fireplace mantles. Ryan and Cathy have three children– Jack 14, Logan 10 and Max 8. As a family, they love to camp and travel.

Please help me in welcoming these two new members to our ministry team as well as thanking God for their immediate skillset and availability! The interim titles will be for a few months while we evaluate the staffing needs and our budget to determine the longer term solution. Our Governing Board has also agreed to form a search committee for a possible called staff position. Please pray for these two men, as well as their families, and for our congregation that we would be able to discern how God is leading us during this time of transition.