Village Church of Oak Park

Many of you know about my years of study at Moody. I felt strongly that God led me there for something specific (other than meeting my wife, though that was cool). Over many years God has been increasing my love of Oak Park and its people. The community is intelligent and engaged. People here care about their fellow man in a way that’s not seen in many places. Over time my love of Oak Park and burden for those in the community have grown deeper and have intertwined.

It became clear about a year ago that God was calling me to plant a church in Oak Park to specifically build relationships with the 40,000 people in this village who are completely irreligious. I started working with the church planting team at the Evangelical Free Church and last week, after an exhaustive assessment process, their team affirmed my call to plant a church in Oak Park. So, the quest to launch and build Village Church of Oak Park begins.

I have no illusions that it will be easy or without setbacks. Ministry is tough. There are times when I am overwhelmed with excitement at what God is going to do in this community. Other times I am nearly crippled by a sense of how utterly incapable I am to do this. The fact is, I am incapable. But God can get it done.

If you’re so inclined there are a couple of ways you can help at this early stage.

1) Pray

Sometimes when people ask for prayer it almost seems as though they’re doing it because they feel they should. But I’m serious about this. Satan doesn’t like new churches. If you’re not doing anything for God, he’ll leave you alone. We want to do some impactful things. We need prayer for protection. We need prayer that the Holy Spirit would work in the hearts of people in Oak Park. We need prayer for wisdom because every single member of our team is a sinner who needs God to get out of bed in the morning, much less to set up a new church.

2) Cash

It usually seems like people ask for prayer right before they ask for your money. Funny how that works. But ministry in Oak Park is going to be expensive. From space to equipment, it’s going to take some significant financial resources to get this done. Whether you can give $50 one time or every month, we’re grateful. Don’t think you need to give a huge gift to have an impact (though we appreciate those too). There are two tax-deductible ways to give.


Simply click HERE to make a secure donation online. This is a website used for many different EFCA church planters so be sure to select my name when making a donation so the money makes its way to our church.


Please make checks payable to Great Lakes District. Write “Fund #121” in the memo line of your check. DO NOT make the check out to me or put my name in the memo line. If you do that you can’t deduct your gift from your taxes.

Mail your check to:

Great Lakes District
PO Box 286
Osceola, IN 46561

Please share our information with any churches or individuals that you believe would have a heart to support this church plant with prayer or finances.

That’s all for now. I’ll blog here about the progress of the church plant. Stay tuned to see what God’s going to do in Oak Park.


31 thoughts on “Village Church of Oak Park

  1. Cisco, I am the VP of a Lutheran church council in the SW suburbs. The founding pastor (he’s still with us!) started our center of worship from scratch approximately 20 years ago and now we are blessed with a membership of over 1,300. Drawing from many faiths and ethnic groups, our church is warm, inspiring, and never ceases to impress anyone who visits. I am so grateful to the Lord for bringing me to these people!

    Any chance you’d want to get a few ideas by visiting or sitting down with us to see how we operate?

    If you’d like, I can give you other info, our website, etc. via e-mail.

    All God’s blessings to you in your new venture.

    1. I would love to when I am able. The next several weeks are jam packed with meetings and study, but I’d really like to make that work soon. Can you contact me via the contact form on this website to give me some more info?

  2. Cisco, from one former broadcaster to another, God bless you as you answer the call to serve Him in Oak Park. I worked in radio for more than 30 years, most recently at WFLA/Tampa and WTAM/Cleveland before entering the ministry in 2010. I feel just as you do, that I can’t do the job, but God can! At times, things can seem overwhelming, but what a thrill to have the privilege to serve our Creator in ministry! I LOVED reading your blog post and hearing the thoughts from your heart. May God be glorified in everything you do as you work to bring His Good News to the people of Oak Park!

  3. Cisco, I work with a local movement of church planters in the KC area. If you are working with the EFCA, then you probably have already been to assssment, have coaching, and are a part of a peer learning environment. If not, then I encourage you to consider these. Even with the call of God on your life, we have found these three ingredients instrumental in helping church planters be and do what God calls them to.

    Grace to you.

    1. Yes, assessments, coaching, and regular meetings with other church planters are a part of the EFCA structure. It will be essential to our success. I appreciate the encouragement!

      1. I noticed you are getting a lot of negative comments at the chicago tribune website article for saying there are 40,000 irreligious people in Oak Park. Would “unchurched” be a better term?

      2. The semantics don’t matter. There are people who are going to be angry about this (for a variety of reasons) no matter what. It will only be by observing this ministry over a long period of time that they grow to understand what we’re doing.

  4. After hearing you on the radio with John Howell and later with your own show I would not want to attend your church. Your views are so far right they dont seem to align with Christian views.

    Frankly Im puzzled. You used to be referred to as “the reverend” on WLS during your studies at Moody. hen you hooked up with John Howell and later had your own show. Now youre going to plant a church.

    Is this really where God is leading you or is this the last attempt of a desperate man looking for employment? First you abandoned God for radio now you abandon radio for God. Makes my head spin.

    1. Wow, are you jumping to conclusions that make you sound rather ignorant and mean. I never abandoned God for radio. I started in radio right after studying it in college. A short time later I enrolled in seminary and took classes at night while working on the radio by day. I graduated from seminary last spring and immediately started praying for ministry opportunities. The plans to start a new church began about a year ago, long before I lost my job. Losing the job was just confirmation that conservative talk radio is incompatible with Christian ministry. That’s why I’m ok with it and I’m still on good terms with my former bosses.

      1. I sound ignorant and mean? You should go back and REALLY listen to some of the shows you did. That’s why I said your views didn’t seem to align with Christianity. Once you lost your “sidekick” status and became a host it was often hard to tell you ever studied theology. It’s interesting that you yourself say “Losing the job was just confirmation that conservative talk radio is incompatible with Christian ministry”. Perhaps having extreme conservative views is really what’s incompatible with Christian ministry regardless of whether or not you express those views on radio.

        “Ignorant” means lacking knowledge. I’ve heard your shows so I’m not ignorant regarding how you came across. I would be ignorant if I made my comment without ever hearing your shows.

        It’s wise to stay on good terms with former bosses. Never burn a bridge you may have to cross again whether it’s a boss or anyone else.

  5. Abner,

    You questioned whether the church plant is just the “last attempt of a desperate man looking for employment.” Since you were ignorant of everything going on off the microphone in my life (like the fact that this church plant has been in the works for a long time) you make yourself seem mean by jumping to the conclusion that this is somehow a money-making scheme. And it shows that you don’t know how much money church planter’s make (again, ignorant).

    You may not have agreed with my conservative political stances (though it seems you sure listened to them a lot), but be careful in questioning my faith and motives. I would never question those things in you because they can only be known by you and God.

    1. I think your instincts are right about distancing yourself from your conservative talk show past. I did a google search for “cisco cotto” tea party and got over 9,000 hits. Oak Park is not known as a bastion of conservativism. Abner was kind of harsh, but I think he is correct in saying far right tea party political views are unChrist-like. You see evangelicals decrying big government, but never speaking out against their wars. They speak out (rightfully in my opinion) against abortion, but never about the massive income inequality in this country. They never advocate for single payer healthcare for all (especially for “the least of these”). They want law and order, but don’t speak out against the use of torture. Unions are always bad, but never discuss how working class people can bargain in the workplace. And so on and so forth. I was raised in an evangelical household and I know evangelicals are generally conservative. Until 2006, I always voted republican and initially supported the Iraq war, but my views changed over time.
      Knowing that you were a former AM talk radio host, it is likely that many people in Oak Park who find out about the new church will “google” you and see your viewpoints. To counter this and to show yourself as truly distancing yourself from conservative AM radio politics, I would suggest meeting with some of the local groups in Oak Park such as the Oak Park Coalition for Truth and Justice and perhaps meet people advocating for single payer health care. See links below:

      Good luck to you, you seem like an likeable and intelligent person.

      1. I really appreciate your insight and the leads. I’ll definitely check them out. It will take many years to earn a hearing with some in Oak Park. I’m willing to put in the time necessary.

      2. Cisco, thanks for your reply. If you believe the bible (and I am sure you do since you are a Moody Bible Institute graduate), as a believer, you are under no obligation to be a right-wing political partisan, and you are free to reflect on issues and change your mind too (even if this means you might loose friendships over it).
        I am not saying you would change your mind on issues, but visiting some of the groups around Oak Park would most definitely help you know people in the community and demonstrate your sincerity. It may help dismiss some of their misconceptions about you too. Personally, and it’s too complex to go into here, I think the views of those on the so-called left, are often more Christ-like, than the “Tea Party”/Right with the exception of abortion and disrespect or dismissing of religious belief . I was able to hold on to my Christian faith and maintain my intellectual honesty once I realized Christianity transcends blind so-called Americanism and conservative political beliefs. I don’t embrace all “leftist” ideas and I am not a strong supporter of Obama and the democratic party either.
        Michael Lerner has written extensively about the problem of people on “the left” not respecting or appreciating religious belief. Also, note the criticism of Obama (who is supposedly a “leftist”/socialist or perhaps even a commie):
        You have a wonderful opportunity. I was fascinated by the story in the Chicago Tribune about a former conservative talk radio host and Moody Bible Institute feeling lead to start a church in Oak Park. I can’t visit your church-I live on the in the south side of Chicago (Beverly).

    2. Cisco,

      Do not listen to Abner! He appears to be a judgmental person from all of his posts.

      Abner, have you surrendered your life and will to Jesus Christ? This is the only way that the Holy Spirit may enter into your being. I pray that you will submit yourself to Christ and be full of the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and faithfulness. (Hopefully, I have not missed any.)

      Cisco, I praise God for leading you to this place in your life, and I thank Him for his faithfulness to you and your family.

      I want to say one word of caution. Many churches have started to embrace the Emergent Church Movement. My husband, son and I attend Wheaton Bible Church. They reject this movement. Yes, God is about love, but He cannot tolerate our sin. The ECM seems to leave sin and repentance “out of the picture”.

      I will pray for you!!


  6. Keep the faith, Cisco. Best wishes building your ministry for it will take a giant of a man to complete your mission. My great Uncle toiled for decades in Rundu and Ondangwa along a northern slice of Namibia. Of course you won’t be dodging machetes, but you’ll require God’s blessing. Stay strong and sprinkle some love over Don Wade.

  7. Where do you get your numbers? It’s not the census as stated in the Wednesday Journal and Triblocal. The census has not collected religious data since 1936. I could find no survey that gives the numbers you cited for Oak Park.

  8. Hello Pastor Cisco Cotto!
    I was a first time visitor at your Church.
    Sunday 2-17-13
    I enjoyed your teaching, it was a blessing
    to me. Also the congregation, made me feel
    so welcome!
    God Bless.

  9. Interesting comments re the left being more Christ-like…really? Does Jesus approve of abortion and homosexual marriage…left is right now right and right is wrong, and we’re living in an Alice In Wonderland World.

    God is and will continue to be Sovereign. Man’s heart has grown cold and most want to live life their own way, not God’s way. “Don’t tell me what to do, say, think, or how to live MY life.” This from the crowd wanting God out of everything…this group includes RINOs, who want God to sit on the back-burner, and all who want to define redefine truth.

    You are a brave man, not only in answering the call, but to specifically go after those indifferent and hostile to religion!

    I have attended your church more than once and found your members and others attending, always welcoming and friendly.

    God bless you and your efforts.

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