Twenty first century living means that most of us looking for furniture will visit IKEA. We will see a wonderful piece of furniture, only to discover that once we get down to the basement, it will be given to us in the form of a flat pack. The flat pack has all the elements of the piece of furniture within it, and even has a diagram and simple tools to build it, but in order to produce the beauty of the furniture all of those pieces have to come together. Once that has been done, it can be admired by all.
You could say that within the church of Jesus Christ we have all the elements of the Christian faith in order to create something beautiful that will transform any community. However, the key lies in discovering the piece that we bring, and connecting it with all the pieces that others bring for the sake of those within our villages, towns and cities.
As Executive Director of HOPE I believe that if we could do this we would see the fulfilment of Revelation 7: 9, "every tribe, tongue or people coming together to worship at the throne" with all their diverse and wonderful ways. This would also be the fulfilment of Jesus’ prayer - He longs that we would be united in mission and purpose.
HOPE 08 was catalytic in bringing the pieces together, but Roy doesn’t think we saw the full breadth of it, but rather we saw something of what we could be, communities were changed, people came to faith and Christians found one another. Everyone who took part felt a sense of privilege and progress, which is why, even as we concluded in 2008, there was a strong voice mandating Hope to continue. HOPE 08 saw thousands of Christians across the UK, in 1500 areas, put their faith into action - living out his love, proclaiming the gospel in word and deeds and doing it all in unity with other Christians. Hundreds of short and long-term projects were to bless their local community.
The relaunch of HOPE took place in a brand new setting in July of this year, at the Redeemed Church of God’s Festival of Life, an overnight prayer gathering, attended by around 25,000 - 30,000 people. Those present stood together to pray for our nation, and blessed and commissioned the Leadership Team. The dream of those leading HOPE is that the whole church would work together in every village, town and city, setting the Gospel loose in word and action so that lives are turned upside down. HOPE exists to fulfil that dream by equipping the church for joined up mission. The Full Leadership Team is chaired by Steve Clifford of the EA and includes Mike Pilavachi, Andy Hawthorne, Roy Crowne, Bishop Wayne Malcolm, Pastor Agu Irukwu, Lawrence Singlehurst, Rob Cotton, Ian Bunce, Rachel Jordan, Pastor Yemi Adedeji, Kiero Phyo, David Westlake, Jane Holloway, Wendy Beech-Ward, Gavin Calver, Colin Hardicre and Matt Bird.
HOPE is more than just an organisation. At its heart are people committed in relationship to see Jesus’ prayer of His Kingdom come, His will be done be achieved and we really feel that the time is right, and that we have been mandated by God and the Church to press on, working together in Word and Action to see this vision fulfilled over the next four years.
HOPE has built an impressive and long list of partnerships with major streams and denominations, but as in 2008, it is the grassroots movement that will deliver the dream. This time HOPE will again be looking to mobilise and equip local teams of churches together. All of us as church leaders long to see not just the good thing but the God thing, and it is clear that God is inviting us to work together. We need to learn to live with the tension of holding our hands in prayer while also working on the battleground for the redemption of communities.
HOPE plans to help and resource the church to reach out on the rhythm and cycle of the Christian calendar. A resource for Easter 2011 will shortly be at the publishers, which includes: 15 missional ideas, a small group study and a group study for Youth on the Easter theme. The studies will not just be for inward reflection, but will invite an outward expression, beginning on Shrove Tuesday and building to the Easter celebrations. It will be an opportunity to mark within our communities this key event of the Christian calendar, which is central and core to our faith.
The HOPE team are also working on ways of helping Churches to gauge how well they are doing today, and to dream about where they could be as a church in 2014, with tools to measure this. We know there are many things that we can learn from each other in the body of the Church and we recognise that if God is going to do anything to see His work move forwards, it will be as we seek Him and His face in prayer
I am fully aware of, and have read extensively, the wonderful history of the Methodist Church, and it is time for the same Gospel to be retold and released to have its full impact on this Nation. Will you dream with us and work with us? Please bring your piece, and together we can connect up to create the piece of furniture, so that people can see all the elements and the beauty of the piece of furniture … in order that Christ’s beauty can be reflected and that people see Him by the way we work together.
So, do come with us on the journey, and pray to see His Kingdom come, His prayer being fulfilled, and lives being changed. We pray that this will be the most amazing four years of mission ever in the UK.