About Us

Crossfire is, first and foremost, about helping young men and women find meaningful new lives through Jesus Christ. This ministry intends to engage street gang members in their home setting with a message of hope, love, understanding, and trust. The ministry is inspired by the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and empowered by the Holy Spirit to offer the “abundant life” promised in the Bible. Our mission is rooted in the Gospel (Good News) that Jesus revealed to the world when he opened the book of Isaiah in his hometown of Nazareth and declared:

“The spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has annointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom to the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor.”

Luke 4:17-19 (quoted from Isaiah 61:1-2)

Crossfire is, therefore, an outreach conducted by followers of Jesus Christ, under the auspices of Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago that seeks to reach Chicago street gangs with the transforming power of the Gospel through street evangelism and personal communication. We believe this ministry is inspired by God and sanctioned by the Biblical mandate to take the Gospel to every corner of the world, including the darkest parts of the inner city. The ministry is fundamentally aware of the fact that “we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers of this dark world, and against evil spirits in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:11-13). Because of that, our tools must be spiritual and we must rely on prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit to initiate change. Crossfire’s goal is to present Jesus as the one whose death and resurrection makes that change possible. The Crossfire strategy includes the penetration of local neighborhoods and the development of relationships with local influencers of culture. Crossfire does not intend to “colonize” local neighborhoods, but to use Willow Creek’s unique geographic position in Chicago as a means of coming alongside and supporting local ministries who are in struggling to contain gang violence in their home areas. It also intends to bring opportunities to the neighborhoods through partner organizations such as GOSO. The goal of Crossfire is not to break up the gangs but to establish beachheads where the Holy Spirit can speak to individuals who want to experience real and abundant life. The transformation of lives is critical and to accomplish that we plan to harmonize our outreach with efforts to insert holistic intervention into the transformative process. So, while the primary thrust of Crossfire is to provide God with an authoritative voice in the midst of the gang culture, the practical thrust of this operation would include education, mentoring, job training, skill acquisition, and family support. Much of this intervention would be accomplished through referral to local ministries that are already established in local communities. In the end, the synthesis of Crossfire evangelism and local intervention is critical to the success of our long-term goal of producing solid God-honoring individuals who witness to God’s power to transform lives, and who become positive assets to their residential and spiritual communities

In the end, the mission Jesus proclaimed that day in Nazareth remains our mission today.

  1. Well, I’m glad to see that Willow Creek cares about the gang issue in Chicago, which reached critical mass a long time ago.

    Too bad the church had no provisions at all for inner city people in need of help with rent payments on which they’d fallen behind. I went to the Loop extension of the church, but they were too busy trying to cover the tracks of their Asian pastor, who had committed some unknown sexual sin, to get off their butts and actually help me when I begged them to do so. Pathetic! I think that the problem was that your suburban leaders in South Barrington were totally out of touch with the realities of inner city people. That, and their “seeker driven” orientation prevented them from ministering to the needs of people like myself who had been Christians for many years.

    • Ron says:

      Hi Mark!

      Thank you for your comments. They are much appreciated. i would like to respond to a few of the things you said, but before doing so I’d like to say that i am not a spokesman for Willowcreek barrington or Willowcreek Chicago, so you can take my words for what they are worth, but please don’t take them as representing the views of willowcreek.

      You are rightin understanding that the gang problem reached critical mass a long time ago. I have been involved with gangs since the early 70s and have seen them grow and evolve into their current manifestation. Outreach to the gangs would seem to be a logical outgrowth of ministry for Willowcreek, especially since Willowcreek Barrington is surrounded by heavily infested suburban gang areas and Willow Chicago is in centrally located among major inner city gang territories to the north, south, east, and west. The current situation, however, does not reflect the reality of things as they were when Willow came into being thirty some years ago. Willow originated as a church dedicated to meeting the needs of those it ministered to in the northwest suburbs and gang issues were not what they are now. As Willow grew, however, and began to interact with men and women who were affiliated, they began to look for ways to address those needs as well. Willow would be the first to say that they have not always been on top of their game in this area, nor in other areas of ministry as well. You can see more on this, if you wish, in their Reveal Study which was an attempt to evaluate Willow’s programs of ministry and outreach. They learned a lot from that study and those lessons have been employed in current outreach, both in the suburbs and in the inner city. While I would like to see more outreach to the gangs themselves, I know of a number of gang members being helped by Willow, both in Barrington and through Willow Chicago. I could send you one story of how that played out in a particular life, if you are interested.

      In any case, Willow Barrington and Willow Chicago are actively involved in several organizations that work with gangs and other related social breakdowns including homelessness, fatherless children, and prostitution, etc.Two prominent examples are GRIP and Breakthrough Urban Ministries, though there are also many others. You may be interested to know that the pastor of the Willowcreek Spanish communty, Casa de Luz, was also a former gang member and has reached out to the Spanish gangs in the area with some success. Also, one of the speakers at the upcoming Willow Global Leadership Conference, Pastor Choco, was a leader in the PR Stones before becoming a Christian and later pastor of the very vibrant New Life Covenant Church in Humboldt Park. he’s great and has made a huge difference in that area. i wish you could hear him speak. In addition, our pastor, Jon Klinepeter, has a passion for reaching the marginalized and has been working with gang members, among others, in the Austin neighborhood. So, while one doesn’t hear a lot about it, there is a lot happening on this front.

      In closing, let me say that I’m sorry your experience with Willow and Willow Chicago, in particular, was not so great. It was, however a pretty hard time when you were reaching out to the church. You may find it different now so you may want to try again. You may also want to talk to Jon Klinepeter about all this. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion and concerns as Jon is open to hearing about how the church can improve. He would be the first to admit that we have not always lived up to what we are supposed to be as a church following the example of Christ. I hope a new experience will be better for you than your first.

      In His Grip,


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