Updated 2/15/22

Dear First Free!

It’s with great enthusiasm and excitement that we introduce Matthew Tinken as candidate for Senior Pastor of First Evangelical Free Church of Chicago. With the help of Jason Lancaster and Lancaster Search Firm, we began our search process in June 2021. Throughout the last few months, we have watched countless sermons, reviewed several resumes, and interviewed numerous candidates, which led to various discussions and prayerful conversations. All of this resulted in a unified decision among the elders and search team that Matt and his family would be a wonderful fit for First Free in the next season of the church’s life.

Matt is coming to us after serving as the Interim Pastor of One Ancient Hope in Iowa City, Iowa although he is a native of Chicago. He and his wife Sarah have been married for 12 years and have a two-year-old son named Shepherd. 

Initially, we were struck by Matt and Sarah’s hearts for urban contexts. This passion for urban ministry was made apparent in his writings, sermons, and the location of the ministry opportunities he’s pursued throughout his career. In addition to serving in Chicago, Matt has also had the opportunity to minister in New York City, Brooklyn, and Pasadena and to live in Los Angeles. 

Moreover, after continuing our interview process, we began to get a better sense of Matt’s strengths as a pastor and leader. We’ve found that his ministry is marked by a genuine humility. This was echoed in a number of the reference calls we had and was made apparent in all of our interactions with him. Matt is quick to listen and slow to speak. 

He is also able to communicate God’s Word clearly through sermons and is passionate about utilizing all forms of communication in ministry toward that end. We discovered this throughout our review of his sermons and in the various ways he has utilized social media as a means to share those sermons. Matt believes strongly in God’s Word preached but also recognizes the need to leverage digital communication for gospel ministry. 

Overall, Matt demonstrated that he is a deep thinker, has an authentic depth to his spirituality, and is passionate about collaborative, creative ministry in the city. For many reasons, we believe that Matt, Sarah, and Shepherd would be a great addition to our church family, and that Matt Tinken is the leader God has brought to First Free for this coming season. 

As the culmination of this process, we have invited Matt and his family to candidate with us during the weekend of Feb 11–13. Please use this link to visit the church’s main website for the official schedule and links to register: Candidate Weekend.

Also, please continue to…

  • PrayPray for God’s wisdom and discernment. 
  • Prepare: Listen to one of Matt’s sermons listed below; Review his resume; 
  • Participate: Come ready to ask thoughtful, productive questions 


Steven Bishop, Chair of the Senior Pastor Search Team

Stephen Lepse, Chair of the Elder Board

PS: Members – stay tuned for more information about voting during the week after the Candidating Weekend. We will hold a vote on February 20th to call Matt as our next Senior Pastor. It will be an electronic ballot, as we have done for the last two years, so keep your eyes out for an extra email or two about that. We want all members to participate in this vote so we have consensus from the whole community!

Matt’s Resume (PDF)


Easter Sermon: His sermon starts 50 minutes into the service. 

Law, Love, and Waking Up [Romans 13:8-14]

Burning Hearts [Luke 24:13-35] Scripture reading for sermon begins 47 minutes into the service. 

Advent Sermon: He was a guest preacher at Missio Dei Wrigleyville just a couple of months ago!

He Rubbed Mud in His Eyes [John 10:1-12] at First Free Sunday, February 13, 2022

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