There are many great churches in the Chicagoland area. While not disparaging any other church ministry, we feel it might help you to know what's unique about our church.
1. An emphasis on community. We believe that the church is a place for connecting to God, and also for connecting with other believers who help us learn, grow, and navigate the ups and downs of life. We often remind each other that "God works through people." Faith is not a journey that can be undertaken alone. It takes the close relationships with others to bring new believers to God; it takes the insight and support of close relationships to carry us through challenges in our faith, and for us to know God at a deeper level. Jacob's Well is a small church, and has no aspirations of being a large or mega-church. What we lack in "production values" in our services and 24x7 church programs, we more than make up for in our focus on the essential task of the church: supporting one another in pursuing the "life to full" that Jesus promises (see John 10:10). We recognize the importance of community, not only for our personal well-being but for our spiritual life, and have placed it at the core of our church's identity. We come from a multitude of different backgrounds, yet all have found a place for ourselves in Jacob's Well.
2. An informal worship style that allows for questions and interaction. We believe that worship services should not be passive experiences, and the the congregation should not be simply "audience members." We are a community. We provide a time in the service to talk and ask questions. We sit around tables. We drink coffee. We take notes, and we ask questions. We're committed to worshiping this way because we feel it's the best way to learn and grow.
3. A dissatisfaction with childish faith. Our commitment to the Christian faith and the Bible is held in tension with an awareness of the challenge of interpreting and applying the Bible to our lives today. We also recognize the tension between faith and doubt that earnest, honest, and growing Christians live with. Jesus loved children, and talked about the virtue of a child-like faith. But a child-like faith is different than a childish faith. A childish faith is unthinking and naive. A childish faith refuses to face questions from science, contemporary theology, and other religions. A childish faith thrives on certainty, but gets certainty at the expense of honesty and deep reflection. In contrast, we believe that spiritual growth happens as we ask the hard questions, and continue seeking even in the midst of uncertainty. We believe that spiritual maturity comes from experiencing grace and developing new understanding ... which often come only after experiencing challenges in life, and questions in our faith.
4. A commitment to grace and acceptance. In Christian theology, "grace" is at the core of our message: that God loves and accepts us in spite of our problems, faults, and failures. Having experienced this grace leads to a certain humility and compassion for others. We seek to function with that compassion and humility in our relationships with each other. Many of us are - or have been - a part of 12 step groups, and our experiences of addiction and recovery have taught us to lighten up in our judgment of others, because we've got enough to worry about in our own lives. Of course, this doesn't mean that we don't stand for certain things -- but hopefully it means that take our stands with humility, and relate to others with compassion.
We are part of the Christian Reformed Church, a denomination that has been in existence since the 1850s, with around 1000 churches and 300,000 members in the US and Canada. You can find the belief statements of our denomination here.
While our denomination has all its belief and position statements, keep this in mind about Jacob's Well: Our focus is on our shared commitment to growing and serving together as followers of Jesus, rather than unanimity about all our beliefs and interpretations of the Bible. We realize that we may not all see things the same way, but agree to join together as a spiritual family.
Our Leadership and Structure
The leadership board of our church is called the "Leadership Council," and our pastor is a member of this board. Here are two documents you might want read if you're interested in structure and principles for organization and decision-making at Jacob's Well.