With Ignite Church Planters

Ignite Church Planter Interviews

  • Interview with Bob Sloniger, Director Emeritus - Ignite Church Planting
  • Lessons From A Parent Church - Interview with Matt Summers, Senior Pastor - Crossroads in Joliet, IL

    Interview with Bob Sloniger

    Director Emeritus - Ignite Church Planting

    I (Lance) met Bob Sloniger for the first time in 1981. I was a senior at Lincoln Christian College and he came there that day to interview me as a potential church planter. Little did I realize that day, what a profound impact this man would have on my life. Through the years, he has been a mentor, an example of faith, a sharer of wisdom, an encourager, a leader, a friend, and so much more. There are certain people we encounter in life who have a profound impact on us. Bob is one of those people to me. There are many others who share the same reality. I sat down with Bob a couple of days ago to ask him a few questions. Once again, I was struck by his humility as he said repetitively, "I wanted to do the most (for God) with the least (using my talents and abilities)." Here are some of the things he had to share that day:

    IGNITE: Why did you decide to give your life, time and energy to starting new churches?

    SLONIGER: I knew I only had one life to give and I wanted to accomplish the most I could with my life and it appeared to me that church planting would give me the most impact for my time and effort through the years.

    IGNITE: Why did you choose to start new churches in Chicagoland?

    SLONIGER: This was where the most people were: There were other areas I considered (Peoria, Lincoln, Springfield) but the potential for reaching people in Chicagoland is unlimited.

    IGNITE: What are some of your fondest memories of starting new churches in Chicagoland?

    SLONIGER: That’s a real hard question, because each one holds fond memories for me. I enjoyed every church I planted. Each church has it's own uniqueness. Each church was important to me, because people were involved and lives were changed. We did plant some churches where I was not sure that it would work ... and then it worked good. I suppose those are the ones I'm most grateful for, because these churches reminded me that I didn't know a lot. (Laughter) Those were the times that if it was up to me, I would not have started a church there, but God showed me what he wanted, we did it and it worked.

    IGNITE: What words of advice would you give to potential church planters?

    SLONIGER: We’ve only got one life to give. The reason I chose to do what I did was that I wanted to accomplish the most with the least as far as my life was concerned. I don’t believe that I could have accomplished anywhere near what I did if I had not chosen to go into church planting. If you want to accomplish something big for God's kingdom, go into church planting.

    IGNITE: What words of wisdom do you have for me as I seek to lead Ignite forward?

    SLONIGER: I am thankful for you because I know you have the capability of doing things that I never had the capability of doing. The result of our combination of ministries has and will accomplish more than we could have done on our own. Don't get sidetracked by things that may appear to be vital but aren't at this time. Focus on the basics of church planting and the others will come. I hope that God gives you health, strength and wisdom so that you can accomplish even more for the Kingdom.

    IGNITE: Why is giving to new church planting a wise Kingdom investment?

    SLONIGER: Church planting produces the most for every dollar given. It multiplies money that is given, both now and into the future because of the dollars raised for Kingdom work through each new church started. The resources coming from our new churches bring even more dollars into play for additional Kingdom work.

    IGNITE: What words would you like to share with our supporters?

    SLONIGER: Every project that anybody does or attempts to do in the USA setting takes money. What we try our best to do is to take financial support and accomplish the most with those dollars so that you have the same feeling of accomplishment, purpose and satisfaction that we do.
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    Lessons From A Parent Church - Interview with Matt Summers

    Senior Pastor - Crossroads in Joliet, IL

    Ignite plants church-planting churches. It’s a celebratory milestone when a new church has a daughter. This life changing milestone is something we encourage every healthy church to have as a goal. I asked Matt Summers, Senior Pastor of Crossroads in Joliet, how the church chose to pursue this goal.

    IGNITE: What made you decide to have a daughter church?

    SUMMERS: We recognized a need in our community. Several outreach events in the recent years showed us a growing Hispanic population right around our church building. Talking with people at these events, we asked them where they went to church and their reply was often, “We don’t have anywhere to go.” I knew we needed to do something about this need.
    It is in my nature to start new things. I am not good at sitting back and admiring what’s been done. When we moved into our new facility, I looked at the church and asked the question, “What’s next?” It made sense to us, that moving forward we needed to minister to the growing Hispanic population around us.
    The Spanish speaking population of Joliet has grown from 20,000 to 50,000 in the past 12-14 years. People of Hispanic origin are projected to be the largest population group in Joliet in the next 12 -14 years.

    IGNITE: When did you begin making plans to do this?

    SUMMERS: I began talking with Mont Mitchell, Senior Pastor of Westbrook Christian Church in Bolingbrook, IL, about this possibility two years ago. (Westbrook successfully launched Gente Unida, Westbrook in 2005. This ministry to Spanish speaking people averages over 200 each week.) We proceeded with asking the “what if” questions in the summer of 2012. We then began to talk logistics, strategy and partnership with Westbrook. We’ve been dreaming it for two years, strategizing for a year and a half and specifically planning for it the past 10 -12 months.

    IGNITE: What did the process look like for planting this new work?

    SUMMERS: We found the right partner. We knew that the partnership with Westbrook was critical to our success. Without their help, we would not be doing this for we are neophytes when it comes to ministering to the Spanish speaking population in Joliet. They know what they are doing.
    We found the right personnel. We met Pastor Adrian and Gloria when they came from Mexico to visit their son, Jonathan, who is the pastor of Gente Unida Westbrook. We went to lunch with them and fell in love with them. They moved to Joliet in September and are leading this new church. They are the right leaders.
    We began raising financial support for this work since it was an unbudgeted item for both Crossroads and Westbrook. It was a faith move, taking the step to launch and trusting God to provide moving forward. (Ignite, Parkview Christian Church, and Westbrook are all contributing to pay Adrian’s salary, while Crossroads is paying for all ministry-related expenses in 2014.)
    Gente Crossroads is averaging 60 people per week during the soft launch phase of the plant. A grand opening is planned for Spring 2014.

    IGNITE: What are you learning through the church planting process?

    SUMMERS: We are continuing to learn and process. I do believe in the soft launch / grand opening model for planting. Creating a solid core group is essential before having a grand opening. I also recognize the importance of having the right partners. Partners do not limit what we can do, they enhance what we can do.

    IGNITE: What encouragement / advice would you give to other churches regarding “having a baby”?

    SUMMERS: (1) Get a core group. (2) Get partners (3) Be willing to take a risk.
    It is risky to start something new, especially when it may cost us people or resources. It’s scary because it may not work, but fear is no reason not to step back. There are too many lost people to not try something, especially with so many different people groups not being reached.
    There are inherent risks in trying to have a baby, especially one trying to reach a different people group. You need to determine whether God is calling you to take that risk or not. If so, take the step.

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