The Journey: A church without walls

by Paula Coughlan
SUGAR GROVE—A church without walls which has several branches throughout the country has a new location in Sugar Grove. Called The Journey, it started as part of the Southern Baptist Church but is nondenominational and nontraditional.

“We’re not at all what people are used to,” said the church’s minister David Bailey. “We have no brick and stone buildings, no central meeting place. We just have small Christian discussion groups that meet as often as they want at each others homes, or at community centers.”

If certain church members desire traditional services, they may hold one collectively at a location such as a park.

Currently, the local branch has two main focuses, facilitating adoptions and helping people get out of debt.

Bailey and his wife adopted one of their sons in Illinois, but The Journey will help families who want to adopt from anywhere in the world. The church walks people through the adoption process, helping them to understand the financial aspects and addressing misconceptions that many prospective parents have, Bailey said.

“Most people think adoption is too expensive, but this isn’t true,” he added.

The Journey plans to hold an adoption information meeting around the end of August at the Sugar Grove Library.

To help people reduce their debt, particularly credit-card debt, the church uses the philosophies of writer and radio personality David Ramsey, author of “Financial Peace University.” Ramsey leads people through a study programs to help them gain financial stability and has a daily radio show on 11 area stations, including his “Daily Money Makeover” on DeKalb’s WLBK at 1360 AM.

Bailey became involved with The Journey when he was studying to become a minister through the Southern Baptist Church in Macomb, Ill. His advisor told him that the church was finding that many college-aged and young married people are having trouble finding a religion that suits them and seem to be searching for something other than a traditional church.

The Southern Baptist Church suggested that Bailey might want to become involved in “church planting,” which is the church’s term for opening up new Southern Baptist congregations in areas where few exist. Sugar Grove became a focus area for that effort because of its family-centered, small-town size, Bailey said.

When Bailey moved to Sugar Grove in February 2009, he began his ministry by reaching out to students at Waubonsee Community College.

“I go to the campus and hand out gum to the students,’ he said. “That way I can open up a religious dialogue and see what their needs are.”

In the future, Bailey will have a booth at the Sugar Grove Farmers Market and plans to hold block parties to bring families together and let them know about The Journey, Bailey said.

The Journey offers families an opportunity to come in contact with others who feel a need for something new that they believe other churches do not offer them.

Church members from a branch of The Journey in Missouri will assist Bailey with projects such as the block parties. The Sugar Grove church also will obtain assistance from Mark Inman, head minister for The Journey who is associated with the Fox Valley Baptist Association.

Bailey is the lead minister for the Sugar Grove area and will direct new groups as they form. He and his wife and three children work together as a unit to provide ministry. Eventually a core leadership base will direct all of The Journey’s local groups.

Bailey is currently providing information about The Journey through brochures available at local businesses. For additional information about the church, send an e-mail to thejourneysg@gmail.com.