The Rev. Colin Smith leads a growing suburban congregation at the Orchard Evangelical Free Church, with sites in Arlington Heights, Barrington and Itasca.
But he hopes to reach an even larger audience Friday night when he will be one of three pastors to draw on the power of prayer, Scripture and music to uplift an audience searching for an end to violence in Chicago.
"One City, One Gospel" will take place at 7 p.m. in the 1,600-seat auditorium at Torrey Gray Hall on the campus of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
A unique friendship between Smith and a pair of inner city pastors led to the event. They began designing it in response to the murder of 15-year old Hadiya Pendleton, of Chicago, who was shot days after she had marched in President Obama's inaugural parade.
"These churches have expressed a deep concern about the violence in the city and Moody Radio is proud to stand with them as we pray against this epidemic," says Roy Patterson, general manager of Moody Radio Chicago and emcee for the night.
Smith is a native of Edinburgh, Scotland, and between his brogue and his ability to relate the Gospel to everyday life, he is a popular speaker. Just last week, he presented at the Gospel Coalition's national conference in Orlando.
In recent years, Smith has begun cultivating a radio ministry at Moody. He co-hosts Moody Radio's "Unlocking the Bible," and in the process has developed a unique friendship with his colleagues on the radio.
He will join the Rev. James Ford, pastor of Christ Bible Church on Chicago's South side and host of Moody's "Treasured Truth," who will deliver a call to prayer.
Rounding out the group is the Rev. Mark Jobe, lead pastor of New Life Community Church, with 19 churches in Chicago, and who also hosts "Straight Talk" on Moody Radio. His vision is to see cities transformed by small communities of faith. Consequently, he will focus on performing acts of peace and kindness across the city.
"This event developed in response to the steady drumbeat of horrific stories of violence in Chicago," says John Aiello, executive director of growth and outreach at the Orchard. "The cross-cultural nature of these three churches coming together, should make the evening impactful and memorable."
Smith concurs, but adds he has found a deep connection with his two friends and has come to appreciate their different approaches to the Gospel.
"We couldn't be more different, and so are our churches," Smith says, "but the things that unite us are far greater than everything that separates us."
He cites their friendship as an example of how the Gospel crosses any boundaries, and unites people of different backgrounds, who are interested in the common good.
"It's a great joy to do this," Smith says. "There's just something powerful and visual, with three Christian leaders -- from such different backgrounds -- demonstrating that through their friendship that the power of the Gospel does bring people together."