For our Urban Church Planting Q & A series, we interview pioneer church planters who, having firmly planted churches in urban areas of the Twin Cities, look back and share their wisdom and reflections. Here we interview John Erickson, lead pastor of Jubilee Community Church in South Minneapolis. John helped plant another church in Brooklyn Center, MN before planting Jubilee in the Phillips neighborhood, where he grew up.
Because the Lord has brought 3 million people from many nations to our metro area. There are many communities and peoples that need a much stronger Gospel presence.
2. Do you have a church planting model you followed or resources you found beneficial regarding the unique goal of church planting in an urban setting?
We sought as much wisdom and counsel as we could gain from a variety of sources. In the end though we did not follow one model. For us, our journey started with prayer. We gathered a team to pray for us, that was so important. We then pursued those in our community who were already on mission to make Jesus known here. That gave us a wonderful base from which ministry grew.
3. Did you find it necessary for your church to be “different” in order to find its identity and/or contrast it with established churches in the area?
No. We had a clear sense of vision and sought to live that vision out. We were focused on our community and there has been plenty of need and ministry opportunity.
4. How did you deal with the ebb and flow of growth patterns in the early years, and when and how did you feel like your church was sustainable?
Trying to stay faithful to keep the main things the main things. We love a big Jesus who has promised to build His church. Our work is to pray, proclaim Him, build relationships, invest in leaders. He has done it, little by little. By God’s grace we were sustainable in our second year.
5. What is the loneliest part of church planting? How did you find community?
I am most alone when I think I am the expert or that I am not a needy sinner in need of counsel, rebuke, fellowship or recreation. Unfortunately, I tend in that direction too often. I am thankful for an amazing wife and family and church family that have loved me so well.
6. What are some of the challenges of planting a church in an urban setting? How did you get to know and become familiar with the community you planted in?
From day one crossing cultures was a passion and a challenge. That challenge remains. Seeking to be a humble learner of cultures and one willing to pursue others with the love of Jesus is something we continually ask God to help us grow in. It is also a challenge to seek solutions to brokenness without becoming a fixer. By God’s grace I grew up in Phillips, yet after 34 years here I am still learning every day.
John Erickson is the lead pastor at Jubilee Community Church in South Minneapolis. John served on staff at Bethlehem Baptist Church for nearly ten years before helping to plant another church in Brooklyn Center, MN. John grew up in the Phillips neighborhood, where Jubilee Community Church is located.