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Who in the Heck is Jimmy Spencer?

Who in the Heck is Jimmy Spencer?

I’m excited to be here at Neue. I hope we can challenge each other and find new friendships that catalyze The Kingdom of God across the globe. Since many of you don’t know me, I thought I would take one post and put a little history of me and what I do… so here we go.

My story… the last 5 years.

In 2003 I started  working at a small church in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. To be brutally honest it was dead. Why I was working there is a story for another blog, and another time… but for now we will just say that I felt like my efforts were best placed in this small, conservative,  white church in Chicago. My plan simple. I was going to open the church to the local kids, become friends with them and love them.

I had no idea what was about to happen.

In the next 2 and a half years I was going to be flooded with hundreds [300 to 400 or so]  of students–and their parents. Students from broken homes, immigrant homes, alcoholic and drug using homes, physical and sexual abuse situations…the list goes on and on.

African Americans
Puerto Ricans

I had 6 languages in this group, English, Spanish, Polish, Russian, Korean and Greek.

Needless to say I was overwhelmed…and so was this tiny church of 100 older white folks. These students had serious needs. Physical needs…. emotional needs. These were needs this local church was unwilling to meet. I was in a tough spot….I gathered the people who were working with the students and we agreed that we were going have to leave our church to meet these kids where they were at.

so that’s what we did– and the church gave us their blessing


We originally thought to plant our own church, have services and grow into a mega-church [duh… what pastor doesn’t want to be a mega-church?]. We soon realized that the people we were originally reaching–came BECAUSE  we WEREN’T a church unto itself  [we had been just a student ministry-flying below “the adult church radar”]. Now that we were a church unto ourselves all the adults expected institutional structure and the kids wanted NO part of that.

We had to make decisions fast.

We groped in the dark for a couple of months—praying for guidance and waiting on God– and lost all the folks who wanted an institutional service [they went right back to the old church]. We struggled financially to keep something going for those who didn’t want too much structure…but we made it.


We discovered the structure of “church on sunday” actually was hindering  people’s expectation of personal growth.

We canceled our service, opened a house with an office and interns, and invited people to do life with us

The questions still remained–how do we do church without a service–people would always ask us “what do you do?”

Enter Thom Black of the Barna Group. I met Thom at Willow Creek Community Church one day and we became friends, he encouraged me to interview  people who are passionately chasing God, but have dropped out of their local institutional church. I was like “HOW THE HECK AM I GOING TO FIND THEM? He said–just open your eyes their all around you—God will send some to you.

God sent them–and we listened. We interviewed a ton of people. we didn’t solicit them to join “us”—we just listened…and learned.

We learned several things,  first—this group was EVERYWHERE. We learned that although they have left churches–they see themselves as The Church [the body of Christ]. We learned they are passionate about several area of life— serving the community, social justice, and a 24/7 faith lifestyle.

The interviews also taught us people always came back to three basic things to support their lifestyle of faith. We took them…polished them up a little—made them all “C” words  [come on some habits die hard.] and started talking about them to others.

Conversation, like spiritual duh?
Collaborating with like-minded people—serving others
Conspiring with other Christians–feeling a part of the Big Picture.

We began to create opportunities for people to practice their faith outside an institutional setting.

We started supporting and empowering people and are still at it.  More in the blogs to come about my story…

Drop me a line here and we can chat and start up a conversation about community, church growth, or leadership, the Viral Mindset… or anything else on your mind

look forward to hearing from you…


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