Confessions of an Urban Missionary – 1

Chilly —  January 2, 2013 — 25 Comments

This is a new segment I’m adding in 2013. It will simply be some honest thoughts about church planting, Detroit life, urban missions, family, etc …

1]  Leading a staff of all, non-paid, volunteers is one of the most humbling & challenging opportunities I’ve ever encountered. It’s hard to know the line that you can push or expect when the person has another full time job and family. I try hard to provide & guard their sabbath times. But, understand that each person is different in their maturity, loyalty and devotion. I’m striving to love each for who they are (and offer grace for who they are not).

2]  I’m not a hipster. 

Detroit_Lives3]  It’s really hard when your friends disappear because you ask them for money. It’s hard enough to ask and I understand that their answer may have to be ‘no’ or ‘not now’ but, hang with me. Be straight with me, pray, give me advice… anything. And, those with resources, man it would be so nice IF you pursued opportunities to bless rather than wait to be begged. 

4]  Mentors are hard to find. Maybe I don’t look hard enough or maybe they’re not interested. We’re all busy…

5]  Every urban church planter must be an entrepreneur. Tent-making requires vision and commitment. In the last 8 years, we’ve started a ministry school, media design company, non-profit charity and community coffee house. We’re constantly thinking of other companies or endeavors we should consider to fund our mission. Don’t ask others for help unless you’re doing all you can yourself.  

6]  Paul said, “follow me as I follow Christ” — he didn’t say, “follow me because I’m Christ” — yet, some people think you’re trying to be God when you ask them to follow. They want input when it agrees with them but deny or avoid it when it goes against them. Holiness is a tough pill to swallow especially when trying to swallow it with a big gulp of hatorade!

7]  I will never, never, EVER allow my family and marriage to come second to the ministry. 

8]  I sometimes have this dream where I am asked to pastor a happy, healthy, genuine church in the suburbs of Detroit. I agree to do so and bring my current church campuses under their wing. Then, we, model the kind of suburban/urban church relationship I believe should/could exist. Then I’m awakened, often by nearby gunfire, and realize that my dream is probably everyone else’s nightmare.  

9]  I don’t understand it when God FREELY gives you a way to lead better, reach more or make disciples; and then you take those ideas and sell them (under the title ‘coaching’). Why not give them? Is it because a business concept like “never give anything away for free or they won’t value it” has crept into your theology? Jesus said, “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” Matt. 10:8.

10]  My preaching has changed a lot over the last year. From a point-by-point preacher to a laid back story-teller. For me, I was bored with myself — and, I guess it was kind of a natural, God-led, reinvent. Jesus told stories. And, I think truth often slips through the cracks of a hard heart better with a gentle steady stream than the sudden blast of a fire hose. I don’t think I’ve sold out…

Well, those are some unrehearsed, raw, honest thoughts. I’m sure that some may be frustrating, confusing or pointless. Ultimately, my blog is me being honest about me. I don’t presume to think that my opinions or questions are all correct. I’m simply modeling the process of voicing what’s in my heart — these words (above) first were spoken to God and then documented in my personal journal. I left out some of the real juicy stuff!! 😉

IF you want to comment about any of the points, please reference the number(s) in front of the point, so that we know what you’re referring to. Stay tuned for “Confessions of an Urban Missionary – 2” next week.


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Chilly is a follower of Christ, husband of a queen and father of avengers. Executive Director of Instagram: @thechillychilton Twitter: @iChilly "I LOVE: my wife Netta, our 5 amazing kids, Buckeyes, good coffee, U2, Nike shoes, anything Apple, sushi, my dog Jack, beach vacations, sports, books & YOU!"

25 responses to Confessions of an Urban Missionary – 1

  1. Not amused, asleep, or angry… More like inspired.

    I do like the point by point. Keep preaching the Word!!

    • Yeah, you know it’s still hard for me to stay on my stool! May not be point-by-point but it will have a point and I will drive that point home! 😉

  2. I can relate to this, times get hard but I love being an Urban Missionary. I also would love to see more church leaders see the importance of having life giving church in the city, and help resource them.

  3. This is great. A man of vision. Keep following Jesus.

  4. You have always been a passionate preacher of the word! That is what I love about you. You are honest and dont sugar coat anything. To many preachers, pastors, reverends, and anybody else that preach the word just want to make everybody happy! They will preach about everything people want to hear! They want to make them feel warm and fuzzy. That is how they get donations. When people feel warm and fuzzy and they they are doing everything right they will donate. When you question somebody, and ask can you do better, that person is going to be less likely to donate. Keep faith that the donations will be what you need them to be! I have always respected the fact that you preach the truth and challenge everybody. Everybody in this world forgets that no person living on this earth is perfect and we can all strive to improve. The problem with society and culture is that everybody has become complacent! Everybody wants somebody else to fix all the problems that we have in this country. Nobody wants to stand up and say we have a problem here and we need to fix it. That is something that you do everyday, and lead people down that path. People need to forget about being Lutheran, Methodist, Church of Christ and worry about the word, and what they can do as an individual to better themselves, their community, their country, and this world. I might be Lutheran, but I believe that we all must come together. My professors where I am getting my PHD might not agree, but that is my point no denomination is perfect. The only perfect thing we have is the world. I loved this honest post by you Pastor Chilly. You are a mentor to me, and I use a lot of things you taught me in the school I am assisntant principal at.


    • Austen, your words mean the world to me (because I know they are sincere). Thank you for continuing to connect with me almost 10 years after we first met. I’m proud of the man you have become!

  5. nice transparent bullet points. they are relate-able for sure. the mind of chilly through text, thanks for the glimpse

  6. I love #9. that’s something we’ve tried to adopt in New York… making everything available for free… trying to now with messages graphics packages, written music, online campus, growth track, etc.. but wAnt to do much more as we grow with more coaching and books written by our pastors and leaders, etc. great stuff though, all 10 of these are great.

    • Jacob, man I have total respect for NYDC! You guys are servants! I get your need to cover costs and know there’s nothing being done in excess! Thanks for reading my blog!

  7. 1,6: I’m so grateful to be a part of the team that serves with you and follows you. I want to continue to grow as someone who follows better and gives more. I’m thankful that God called me to follow a Paul who has earned the right to be followed and works harder than he asks any of his volunteers to. I want to learn to be a man like that and I’m glad God has called me to someone I can learn it from.

    Love you Pastor

    • Pretty cool to have 2 Austin/Austen (both from Fort Wayne) leave comments on this post. The first was a Sr. Higher & second was a Jr. Higher when I was youth pastor. They don’t know each other but both are brothers through Christ and I’m honored to mentor you BOTH!

      Love you too Austin!

  8. whoa. needed this.
    “Holiness is a tough pill to swallow especially when trying to swallow it with a big gulp of hatorade!”

  9. It’s interesting that you make the point about being a “storyteller.” Since Aaron and I first heard you speak at Sr. High Camp years ago when he was the director, we’ve been big fans of your “storytelling” preaching. That’s how we described it back then. I find that refreshing.

  10. 10: I love hearing your preaching. The stories you share really help me make a connection to the message. Thank you for sharing what God has spoken to you it’s really encouraging.

  11. Good stuff! Thanks for letting us into your world for a little bit…btw stories rule!

  12. 6: You continually allow people to come close and follow. I’m always amazed by your vulnerability, you share your life in the most simple and creative ways. Thank you for the honesty of this blog its an example for me to be open and honest too. Love You Pastor!

  13. thanks for your transparency!

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