When I was young, I had no idea that church planting existed. It certainly wasn’t a strategic discipleship model like it is now. But after planting six churches in the Midwest, the passion of planting churches is in my blood. It’s really been a big part of how my wife, Bethany, and I have lived our adult life in ministry.
New Hope Community Church is 17-years-old. From this church we’ve planted four churches throughout central Ohio, and our plan is to start more.
At New Hope, it is important for us to multiply spaces where people are comfortable to show up just as they are, encounter Jesus, and leave differently! Our goal is not to build bigger buildings but to multiply the work of God by starting new churches and campuses all across our region and world. As we multiply, we believe God can use us to transform lives and make a difference.
My desire is for every individual and family to have a personal connection to God’s bigger mission. As people grow spiritually, the mission of God becomes more focused — making disciples who make more disciples. This can be locally, globally, or both.
Trusting God Brings Growth
One of many challenges a young church faces is financial sustainability. The goal is for congregants to take responsibility for the church to thrive in all ways — physically, financially and spiritually.
In order for people to grow spiritually, the first thing they need to understand is that God is real — that he can be trusted. One way we tend to build upon this is to find ways for people to live outside their comfort zone so they will depend on God.
Mission trips are the typical example. The process of trusting God for financial support, securing a passport on time, and living for a brief time in an environment of unknown language, culture and food is certainly outside the comfort zone!
Mission trip participants usually have a spiritual growth spurt throughout the process. But not everyone from my church is going to engage in that faith-building process. We needed additional options to give members the opportunity to put biblical principles into action and thereby grow spiritually.
As a church, we’ve engaged in some transformational, one-off projects in God’s mission. They connected us to the world for a brief moment in history, but we really needed an on-going, relational bond that helps people engage missionally and beyond their comfort zone.
New Hope cares about the world, and our leadership wants to help the church care about the world, too. But it seems like there’s also 87 other things that we’ve got to figure out if we want to sustain long-term health of the church.
Sustainability is a priority. It’s a balancing act to prioritize discipleship, mission, leadership, strategy, growth, and church planting; each is part of our DNA. Particularly in the area of mission, it takes significant time and effort for our staff to plan strategically, inspire the congregation, and execute.
Our Wish List For Mission
We began to make our wish list for this void in our mission plan. As the list grew, we anticipated how God would put all the pieces together. We needed a missional solution that was
- Flexible — to accommodate a “shotgun start” as new people joined the mission
- Affordable — even for the financially challenged individuals and families in the church
- Consistent — with benefits deployed on a regular basis rather than once a year
- Sustainable — that didn’t take a lot of time, energy and effort to plan and execute
- Relational — not transactional
- Audacious — results that only God could accomplish
Beyond What We Could Imagine
We belong to an organized movement of churches who start and strengthen churches around the world. Pastors from this association invited me to see Compassion’s work in Honduras, and I was amazed at what I saw!
Following my trip, I began to think about how New Hope could grow through partnership with Compassion.
I love Compassion from the standpoint of their transparency and accountability in finances and measurable outcomes. Their ministry philosophy ticked all the right boxes for me: Christ-centered, church-based, child-focused. Individually, each member of our church could be connected to a child in a disciple-making relationship. Uniquely, each child sponsor could have a missional experience without leaving home. Everyone could participate. This grabbed our attention!
Before long we were given the opportunity to make a difference in one specific child development center in San Jorge, Bolivia near Cochabamba. Through child sponsorship, New Hope was energized to release children from poverty in Jesus’ name through one church, Iglesia Evangelica Presbiteriana Jardin de Pinos. This was definitely a God-sized mission!
Our staff is excited to engage with Compassion. Because our people have a personal connection to the children in that Bolivian village through child sponsorship, it’s easy to get them fired up! It’s less of a program and more of a relationship, which is highly sustainable in the long term.
A Synchronized Partnership
As a relatively small church in a rural community, it’s challenging to keep congregants continuously growing spiritually. We can lose momentum unless we have ongoing programs, which is why our alliance with Compassion has been good for New Hope.
The beauty of adding the Compassion element in our mission is that they complement what we are already doing so we’re all moving in sync to love and follow Christ in deeper and more mature ways.
If we are growing spiritually, we are compelled to help fulfill God’s mission — whether it’s across the street or around the world. And the people at the New Hope family of churches are catching that vision. Compassion is a trusted partner as we journey together on God’s mission.