Rev. Dr. James Tilley

Rev. Dr. James Tilley

Minister of Discipleship

I’m Jim Tilley, Minister of Discipleship!


No, I’m not real big on titles, but I mentioned mine for an important reason: it’s how God got this job for me!


Over twenty-five years ago, our church proclaimed that it was seeking a “Minister of Discipleship”.  That got my attention.  Any church Spirit-led enough to put that kind of emphasis on Discipleship must know what it’s doing!  So I came to our congregation in July of 1989 with a vision for discipleship: enabling people to grow radically deeper in their life and love for Jesus Christ and one another.  It has been – and continues to be – a great ride together!  And there is so much more to come!


While I’m known around here as the “California boy”, I was actually born here in the Midwest: Kansas City, Missouri, in fact.  I grew up in New Jersey until age 13, at which time our family moved to Fullerton, California: yes, next door to Disneyland!  I was raised in a Presbyterian church, and was pretty thoroughly bored to tears by the whole deal, until in October 1969 I went to a Billy Graham crusade and realized that God wanted not to dull me to death, but love me to life!  Graham spoke unforgettably about having a personal relationship – a love-filled friendship! – with God as a real Person if I would only receive Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.  I did, and began to discover His healing, astonishing love in a way I never knew existed!


My High School Youth Fellowship changed my life.  They loved me with the love of Jesus: when I loved myself, and when I didn’t – to put it mildly!  It was in the midst of this group I found my call into ministry:  I wanted everyone to discover Jesus & the abundant Life He promised.  While my main call at First Pres is Adult spiritual life and ministry, in my heart I’ve always been about an inch away from being a youth pastor!  I LUV our teens!  And our children! 


From 1974-78 I majored in psychology at Stanford University.   I also majored there in my fine wife Sherri; we married in 1982 (that’s a lot of years.  What a strong and heroic woman!).  For ministry I completed Fuller Theological Seminary’s Masters of Divinity and Doctoral program in clinical psychology.


Sherri and I have two amazing sons:  Our native Californian David was born in 1987, and graduated in 2010 from Trinity Christian College with a degree in Marketing and Business.  Perfect career choice:  he could always talk us into just about anything.  David works with marketing and corporate affairs for an online learning community, Piazza.  David and Kelsey were married in June of 2011.  Kelsey is a manager in the LuluLemon sports fashion industry.  Jonathan was born (here!) in 1989, and graduated in 2012 from our Alma Mater with a degree in Computer Science.  Also a perfect career choice; his fingers were on a keyboard from about the time they could move.  He now works at Apple as a software engineer - a true mad scientist!  Needless to say, we are immensely proud of our three (now grown) children, and love them very much!


Hobbies?  A lifetime of adventures with my family: camping, biking, card & board games, hiking; exploring many places, including Chicago, Starved Rock State Park, and Galena.


I’m solid on the unconditional love of Jesus.  The greatest joy I have on earth, right after my family, is helping people discover the endless, healing, empowering wonders of friendship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thrilled to be here for you!


1100 Calvin Road Rochelle, IL 61068 815.562.7053

Sunday Schedule

9 a.m. Traditional Worship 10 a.m. Fellowship Hour 10 a.m. Sunday School 11 a.m. Contemporary Worship

Office Hours

Monday to Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.