Church Plant—CU Church, Champaign-Urbana
By Meghan Hook
September 17, 2017. That was the day that I had circled in red marker and flagged in multicolored sticky notes in my day planner. It was the first day that CU Church met in a building, and the first day that people were going to be dropping off their children into my care for 90 minutes at a time.
If you were to take a peek into my personal belongings, you’d probably find handwritten prayers on note cards and the backs of receipts that begged God to bring no more than 20 kids on that first Sunday—while other staff members were praying for at least 20 people to show up.
I had been praying this way because I had no idea what I was doing. After spending a year and a half teaching third grade in Northwest Alaska and having no prior work experience in a church, I didn’t know if I could do this. When more people showed up on our first Sunday than the population of my Inupiat village, I was terrified.
“God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.” That’s a text message I got from a friend the week before CU officially opened its doors. That text was an encouragement to me. It reminded me of all the people in the Bible who God chose to partner with, even though He could have done His work all on His own if He had wanted. But how could God really have intended for me to be His best bet to tell kids about Jesus in Champaign-Urbana?
Over the last year of ministry, it’s clear that I wasn’t His best bet—I’m just a small piece of His work here. I am one of the 1,500 people who attend CU Church. I’m one of the millions of people who call themselves members of the global body of Christ. Jesus Christ—He is His Father’s best bet.
God has called and equipped some incredible people through CU Church, like Tim and Richie. Tim is a retired police officer who has served on our security team. Tim met Richie, one of our friends without an address, through Thursday night outreach, and the two have become great friends. Now they serve together on the parking lot team. Tim and Richie are taking part in God’s transforming work in the community, and God is transforming their lives in the process.
They’re not the only ones. From that very first Sunday in September when 500 more people showed up than I had anticipated, I knew God’s vision for CU was much bigger than mine. He didn’t want just a few people to be called, a few people to be equipped, or a few people to take part in His transforming work. God is calling every person who walks in our doors to partner with Him.
One way that we help people do this each week is through a ministry called One for One. Every week, we tell the story of someone outside of our church family who is in crisis. This person in crisis might be someone who recently lost a family member or who had an accident and can’t pay the medical bills. We ask every person in our church family to give one dollar to help, and a week later we bring a check to their door.
In this way and so many others, the good news of Jesus influences our lives today and gives us hope for the life to come. At CU Church, we see the Gospel holistically impacting hearts in our midst and transforming our own hearts as we partner with Jesus, God’s best bet for His mission in this world.