In late 2005, after a number of great years on staff as a Teaching pastor at Faith Church in Dyer, IN, God stirred Jeff Klein’s heart. He and his wife, Pam, began dreaming about a different expression of ‘church’. With their church’s blessing, they pursued God’s nudge.
Soon after, a group of their neighbors and friends began to regularly meet to pray about a possible new community. By the fall of 2006, 28 adults agreed to commit to gathering as the church together in Wheaton, IL.
We began meeting at Wheaton College’s Theater building to worship God and eat together, all the time praying He would use us as His incarnate presence in our community by loving and serving our neighbors. This active demonstration of the Good News of the Gospel is our cry, our desire and our continual call.
That’s why Kevin Engel joined Jeff on ‘staff”. Kevin came from First Baptist Church in Geneva, IL and brought his expertise and missionary heart with him. His example taught our young community what it looked like to reach out to the unseen people around us. His passion for people from all over the world continues to influence Jericho Road’s work today.
And, yes, somewhere in there, we called ourselves Jericho Road. More on that in a bit.
By the summer of 2007, our temporary housing agreement with Wheaton College Theater ended and we found ourselves wandering from place to place just like the Israelites.
We’d meet in different backyards and houses and occasionally, at Fountain of Life Church in Lombard. And although always more concerned with how we’d lived our lives for Christ between Sundays, by the fall of 2007, we knew we needed a place to call home on the Sundays we did gather all together.
Many of us lived in the neighborhood surrounding Lowell Elementary School; God seemed to continually bring Lowell to mind. We approached them, they took us in, and we’ve worshipped there ever since.
We feel like we’re a part of Lowell. We’ve worked hard to build relationships with the Lowell staff, teachers, students and their families. We’ve always lived by the credo that we’d be ‘more than renters’; that we’d serve and love the school community by demonstrating God’s love for them. It’s been our privilege to come alongside Lowell’s Social Worker and ELL staff as they work with a significant population of under-resourced children and their families.
Because we believe that church is lived out in proximity to where we live, in the fall of 2009, we began planning another Jericho Road Church just west in the Lombard area as quite a few of our church family hailed from that direction.
In the summer of 2011, that group was released to go and another new church, The City Gate. It’s fantastic to know there’s another body of believers committed to being a light in their community by intentionally loving their neighbors.
In the Book of Luke, Jesus tells a parable about a man who’s beaten and robbed and left for dead along the road.
A religious leader and a priest, traveling along that same road, on their way to worship in Jerusalem, pass by the man choosing not to get involved.
Eventually, a Good Samaritan comes along.
He stops, picks the man up, bandages his wounds, and brings him to a place where he can get well, offering to pay the medical bills.
That story took place on Jericho Road, a narrow pathway running 18 miles through the wilderness between the city of Jericho and Jerusalem.
We call ourselves Jericho Road Church because we don’t want to leave people on the side of the road, passing them by on our way to sit in seats and worship. We want to pick them up as we travel the pathway, bandage their wounds, provide for their healing and enter into relationship. We believe worshiping God ultimately sends us back to the road; there we can join God in His mission to bring His Kingdom to bear on this earth.