WORSHIP TIME: Sundays at 10:00 a.m.

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The Sanctuary » TEN » TEN first visit

TEN first visit

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As we approach our 10th Anniversary celebration on Sept. 25, we would love to hear your memories of the first time you visited our church. The story of our church is really the story of the people who have walked through our doors. Everyone has a story, and we want to hear yours!

We interviewed 10 individuals/couples and asked them to share their thoughts about the church, as well as their stories of how God has worked in their lives. We will be showing segments of those interviews the next few Sundays at church and at our celebration dinner on Sept. 25.

Check out some of the first reactions of the people we interviewed. And then tell us about your first visit.

What brought you to The Sanctuary? What was your first Sunday like? Why did you decide to keep coming back?

We look forward to celebrating TEN years with you. We look forward to celebrating what God did Then. Now. and for Eternity. We look forward to Celebrating Changed Lives.

Click here to watch the second video.

Click here to watch the third video.


  1. Ronn Smith says:

    Michele and I were praying for a group of people that would dream with us of what it would be like if we really lived out our faith. We were praying that God would lead us to people who desired to impact a community, expand the kingdom of God, and love each other while we were doing it. We were praying for a group of people that wanted to grow stronger in their love and their knowledge of God and wouldn’t compromise their faith. We desired to be with people who wanted to help us raise our kids to know the living God and it is for all these reasons that we came to help plant The Sanctuary. God’s call, His leading, and all for His Glory! I love The Sanctuary and am so thankful God has led us together!

  2. tracy goldner says:

    I’m Tracy Goldner and have been coming to Sanctuary for 10 years. I used to attend New Song Church and I heard about Crosstown, former name then. I was checking out community nights in summer 2001 and felt like it was feeling like home. i prayed about it and continued going to community nights. In mid to late summer 2001 I felt God’s call for me to go to crosstown. I felt like I can serve there more and it is such a nice friendly church. So, I left New song and moved on to Crosstown, now Sanctuary. still love it there tho I’ve been going thru so many changes these past 10 years but God lasts forever. I’ve been drawing close to god each day. I’m so blessed to be part of Sanctuary’s church family. Here’s to the 10 years and many many more to come. Praise god.

  3. Bill Wokas says:

    I had become a Christian after hearing some messages and attending Willow Creek Church in South Barrington back in 1987. I let life and career get in the way and I pulled off kind of a “prodigal son” for a number of years. In 2009, life got crazy beyond measure when I felt God simply tell me, “hey Bill, I’m still here for you”.

    The drive to Willow Creek is pretty significant from Bolingbrook, so I asked them if they could recommend local Bolingbrook churches. They told me about Living Waters, Westbrook and Crosstown (now the Sanctuary). I rotated about a month and a half of Sundays between the churches. They are all good and have nice people. But the Sanctuary just clicked and felt right to me.

    The Sanctuary has challenged me as a Christian to get into the battle and I have felt God’s presence stronger now than at any other time in my life. Last year was the first year I was ever in any kind of small group with some fantastic people who further challenged me to grow in Jesus Christ. I really feel God is holding the Sanctuary in His hands, using/developing us all to mature in our relationship with Him while enforcing our experience of joy and peace that surpasses worldly comforts.

    I am glad God pointed me to the Sanctuary!

  4. Sarah W. says:

    We first visited in September 2004. We came at the wrong time because it was the first week back to two services. So instead of being a little late, we were very early. If you know me, you know I hate to be late! We had come from a far away suburb as we were in the process of buying a house and wanted to choose our church before we signed any papers.

    I have been to church in many different “non-churchy” locations, so the fact that we were in a gym at a school didn’t scare me off at all. At that time, Crosstown was the third church we visited. The first one had potential, but seemed too big. The second one didn’t fit us with their doctrine. At the time, Andrew was 6, and he was not happy about bouncing around from church to church and he had no interest in going into a children’s program. He just wanted to be with us.



  5. Sarah W. says:


    I remember that the Kidstown people were incredibly inviting, and Andrew wanted to go meet the other kids. That was a huge plus for me! Since we had arrived at the wrong time, we got to spend some time in the hallway talking to Ian. He made me feel right at home.

    Before the service began, Ronn walked up to us and introduced himself. He obviously knew we were new and greeted us in a “Ronn” way. He was genuinely happy we were there. It seemed everyone we met that morning had a connection to us in some way, through homeschooling or interest.


  6. Sarah W. says:


    As soon as the service ended, I told Rob, “This is a small EBF (We were coming from Evanston Bible Fellowship). I feel at home here.” I was thrilled that he agreed and we that our church-seeking project was finally over, with a great choice. We went home and made an offer on our house. When we came back in November, people remembered us from two months ago, and that really made a good impression on me.

  7. Mike Stropkovic says:

    I first attended this church after a great neighbor of mine finally convinced me. Always been a hard worker and loved God, but my marriage and work life left God out. I was too dependable to solve what everyone wanted me to do.

    After having a good reputation and good record for most my life, my family turned against me and with a self inflected depression, I made it worse.

    Suddenly a job loss(unemployment denied) had to go through expensive therapy(no money) and being blamed for my wifes long time job loss, I was a vegatable.

    Went to the sanctuary and it happened to be the “in the cave series” Being a long time catholic, I never heard the word of God out of the bible before. It was so appealing. Catholic has so many rules and judgement and part of reason why I never went to church anymore.

    Another major incident happened with my business having a major fire. Pastor Ron used my story in his sermon and many of the church members offered so much help to me.

    My neighbor and his small group friends encouraged me to write notes and discuss the questions.

    Still struggling I didn’t have a job , no money, and my public defender told me I must leave the house immediately. This was Dec 23rd 2010. Very depressed that I won’t be able to attend the church after all the joy and compassion i recieved from here, I decided to attend my last service before i moved out to Tennessse where I didn’t want to go. I had a very wonderful long term member sit with me and she prayed with me on The Christmas eve of eve. On christmas day, I recieved a phone call from a long time old boss I haven’t seen in years, and he didn’t know i didn’t have a job and hired me on jan 3rd. (How powerful is that?)

    Now a year later, things moving along and know that god has a plan for me and he’s not through yet! (another series point)

    I love my church and all the people in it and can’t wait for TEN Night!

  8. Cheryl Lynn Cain says:

    Several years ago, Grant and I had moved to Michigan to be part of a new church started by some friends of ours. It was a very powerful time and we had experienced God and community like never before. When we relocated back to the Chicago area five years later, I was very skeptical I would find that again. At one point, I had actually lost hope and didn’t even think it possible. A few years into that, I had met Ronn and others from the Sanctuary at different events but had avoided the church bc it seemed that so many people “ended up” there. However, at the birth of our third child, I knew I also needed a new birth in my spiritual journey so we tried the Sanctuary. Immediately it felt like home and I remember the exact moment when I felt my hope in the Church restored. This was a community that I could have the love and freedom to experience God and where I could joyfully invite others to do the same. I am so excited to hear the stories past, present and future of what God is up to. He is bigger than my plans or expectations.

  9. Alanna B says:

    My family was a part of the initial plant of The Sanctuary from New Song Church. I was living at college in Chicago when the plant actually began, but I often came HOME to worship and was regularly involved for about a year. A few years later, my husband and I moved overseas. It feels like there have been many “first” times coming back to the Sanctuary because it has grown and changed so much over the last 10 years. Every time we came back there were new people and things looked different. The Sanctuary has always been HOME, though. Especially in the very difficult four years that we spent in the Middle East, where most of the time, we lacked real community and support, we always felt the support, love, and real partnership that the people of the Sanctuary, our family, gave to us. In a very real way, your prayers have kept us going. Moving back here again last year was such an easy transition because you all welcomed us with open arms and many of you had kept up communication with us while we were gone. Thank you for loving Jesus and for loving the world. Thank you for loving us and for always having open arms. We are so thankful for such a wonderful family and HOME on earth; we can’t wait to see the family that will spend eternity together in heaven, from every tribe, tongue, and nation, because you have lived out who Jesus was.

  10. Amy Hoff says:

    The first Sunday I came to The Sanctuary I was singing on the worship team. Pastor Ben spoke that day, and I seriously felt like he was speaking right to me and the place I was in at that time. That was last August… I tried to go back to my home church, but found myself with a longing for a deeper connection with God that I had felt that Sunday at the Sanctuary… it took a few months but I came back, and immediately felt like I was home again. Ronn spoke that Sunday, and once again I was awed by the movement of God in the church… how palpable Gods presence was, from the moment I was greeted I felt His presence. God placed me here in His perfect way and perfect timing, I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for this church and His people.

  11. Emily Neal says:

    We visited CrossTown Church for the first time in the fall of 2006. We had been attending a much larger church that was about 25 minutes from home. Every Sunday, we would drive by River Woods Elementary School, and many times I would see the CrossTown sign (just a few minutes from our home) and think, “Hmm. Maybe we should just stop THERE and go to church.”

    After a few years, we were challenged to get involved in a “community church” and we visited CrossTown for the first time. We were surprised to find we already knew several families there. The people were SO friendly and we felt at home when we would visit. The very first Sunday we visited, the church had a baby dedication. TJ was getting dedicated that day. After the service, we went to the park down the street from our house and bumped into the entire Aschliman family, who had gathered there after church. We recognized them from the baby dedication, and they talked to us for a long time. I remember Tyson telling us that if we were looking for a church that was truly a community and did life together that we should try CrossTown. The words he said stuck in my mind because that was exactly what we were looking for and what we found: a church family!

    It is kind of funny that the first two times we visited, it seemed like something went wrong during the service. However, through that, we were so impressed by the humility of Pastor Ronn and others and just how genuine and authentic they were. We would visit other places that might have seemed more “polished” at the time, but it was the Holy Spirit that kept drawing us back to CrossTown. We are so thankful for this church!

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