How God Changed A Husband And Wife And Then An Entire Church


Have you ever experienced a miracle of God? Has there been a moment in your life when your jaw dropped to the ground because you were in awe of what God did in your life and in the life of your church?

Such a moment recently happened to the people of Immanuel Church in Gurnee, IL. Led by their incredible lead pastor, Josh Petersen, this church is changing thousands of lives on a weekly basis. They recently embarked on a capital campaign which not only exceeded all financial expectations but has transformed the church spiritually. I recently had the privilege of speaking with Josh about their experience. Here’s the story:

Immanuel hired INJOY Stewardship Solutions to assist in raising funds for a new facility. Chad Aukland, INJOY Stewardship’s Director of Consulting, kept talking about how this would be a spiritual journey and biblical process, not a fundraiser. Josh thought “this feels like sugar-coating something not delicious.” But as time passed, he began to feel differently.

Josh felt God calling him and his wife Heidi to sacrifice. During the campaign they were just seeking God, listening, obeying, and saw this was a chance to grow in the Lord. Rather than focusing on their checkbook, this became an ongoing conversation with God.

This continual dialogue was not about the building or money. These were merely tools to help Immanuel fulfill its mission of helping people to know Jesus and be more like Him. Josh and the church leadership became serious about the spiritual journey and what this would sound like. The term “spiritual journey” was no longer pastor-speak for “capital campaign.” This spiritual journey was about seeking the Lord and in turn, seeking their neighbors for Christ.

But for anything great to happen in your organization, something great must first happen in the lives of its leaders and this was true for Josh and Heidi.

In one of their first meetings, Chad told Josh, “Pray for your family. You’re the leader and there will be a target on your back.” I was incredibly impressed with Josh’s humility when he said, “We followed (the INJOY Stewardship and biblical) model to the letter. We did exactly what Chad said.” Not only did Chad and Josh have a great professional relationship, but they also developed a great friendship as well. Josh said, “Chad is amazing. Being with him doesn’t feel like work. It feels like hanging with a friend.”

Being a senior pastor can feel like being in a pressure cooker. Josh was Immanuel’s long-time youth pastor before taking over three-and-a-half years ago as lead pastor. As he soon discovered, if you are not careful, a church can become an adversary for your time and energy. As parents of four children, Josh and Heidi had to protect against this.

The campaign proved to be a spiritual journey for Heidi as well. For many years, she basically felt the work at the church was Josh’s work. Her role was to support him and make sure their children did not hate church and she did a great job. But during the campaign, her role began to expand. Heidi now leads a midweek student community group investing in the next generation.

For Josh and Heidi, eventually came the moment of truth. The time had come for them to sit down and make a financially sacrificial commitment to the church’s future. Josh and Heidi had been individually praying. Josh approached her about the amount they were to give. She responded, “I already know.” Like most of us husbands would be, he was put back on his heels in a good way. The number Heidi then gave was DOUBLE that which Josh was thinking!!!

Josh said, “I don’t know if we can afford that.” She responded with absolute confidence in God, “I have a plan” which she then laid out. In a moment of personal worship, Josh then had these words, “God, only you.”

As the time drew near for the congregation’s commitment, God had already been preparing the church in the following ways:

  • 93% congregational approval on the project.

  • 100% approval from the leaders Josh had been meeting with.

  • Attendance and baptisms were both growing in significant ways during 2018.

Josh said, “God, I need to stop questioning you because you’re showing up in profound ways.”

When millions of dollars were pledged and the church’s goals were blown away, Josh humbly stated, “For a guy who talks a lot, I didn’t have much to say.” The day the amount committed was revealed people were in awe of what God had done through this process.

For many people in the congregation, this was their first miracle moment.

The impact of the congregation since the campaign has been palpable as well. There is a fresh hunger in the church. Josh noted it “was insane how they are” at this new opportunity to reach their friends. His creative director pointed out how people are singing more and not getting tired of worship.

Josh has also observed that you can feel the Spirit. He said, “People are wallowing in it. We are celebrating who Jesus is.”

He concluded his time with me by reiterating, “Who He is doesn’t depend on our campaign number. We just have a desire to celebrate who God is.”

Josh Petersen is simply a Godly man and spectacular leader. It has been an honoring knowing and serving him.

If your church has a need to raise significant capital in the next year and would like to have happen in your church what happened at Immanuel, click the button below to talk to a campaign expert.

Back to Stories

Talk to an expert