At the beginning of Hope Chapel’s ministry 15 years ago, we intentionally asked God to make Hope an agent of His grace by compelling (2 Corinthians 5:14) us to reach those far from Him and help them get fully connected to Him (the Great Commission) and to love Him and others radically (the Great Commandments). Our vision was not to be a church that consisted of just gathering for meetings on Sunday mornings, but to be one where people were inspired to live everyday life with a desire to make a difference for the Kingdom, all because they were deeply in love with God and people. Many call this “missional living” …living with the understanding that each part of our lives is a platform from which He wants us to demonstrate how He has changed us and to invite others to experience that same change. When this happens, missions and everyday Christian living are then one and the same thing. That has always been our dream for how Hope will impact the lives of those who connect with it.
It was the desire to live missionally that led the original nucleus of Hope Chapel to launch the new church. We knew it was hard to have our faith, life and church overlap and become an inter-connected “one” when the churches we attended were 20+ miles away. Christina and I, as well as others, longed for the influence of our lives (where we did everyday life) and the influence of our ministry (where we worshipped and served with a church family) to become one and the same thing, and that meant we needed a church home close by. So together we stepped out in faith, took some huge risks, invested a lot of sweat equity service, and got to have a front row seat to see God do some incredible things in bringing Hope to life, a place where life and mission could become one.
This anniversary has reminded me that this God-directed vision is far from being finished. Each of us has a life that is a mission field in and of itself, and most of those who populate that field are far from God and need to tangibly see His love in action. So can I ask you to give your Pastor an anniversary gift? The gift I really want is for you not to just come to church, but to develop a style of living immersed in the conviction that the “mission field” and your everyday life are one and the same thing. If that really happens, the best of what God is going to do at Hope will just be getting started.