More of Who We Are
We are a church driven by eternity. This simply means we realize this world in which we live will not continue forever as is. The Scriptures tell us that God will one day destroy this earth, which has been so hopelessly infected by sin, and will create a new, perfect one to replace it. That new earth will be much like this one except there will be no negative effects caused by the sinful choices of humans. There will be no more murders, rapes, wars or injustices. Neither will there be any sadness, pain, tears, disappointments, or even death. In addition, those who are granted eternal life won't have the desire or even the ability to sin, so it truly will be paradise. Of course, the greatest aspect of the age to come is that God Himself will live with us on the new earth and we will love, serve and enjoy Him forever in our new, perfect and glorified bodies.
Since this current world will not last indefinitely, our primary purpose at Hope Fellowship isn't to attempt to make this world a better place, but to explain to people how they can live forever in a perfect world in the age to come. This doesn't mean we aren't concerned about the various humanitarian needs around us. It simply means that those needs pale in light of eternity. People's greatest need is not physical, emotional, psychological or even social; it's spiritual. As Jesus said, "What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"
Hope Fellowship is driven by eternity because we realize human life is temporary and only those who repent of their sins and place their trust in Jesus to save them in this lifetime will be granted the gift of immortality and the right to live with God forever. The Scriptures teach that all who fail to repent and trust in Jesus will be judged for their sins by God and ultimately given the eternal death penalty with no hope of ever living again. What could be worse than not being able to live in a perfect world with God, forever? Nothing, in our minds. God specifically created humans to live forever with Him. Our first parents blew that opportunity for us, but Jesus has restored it. To miss out on what we were created to experience forever is the saddest of all realities.
We are serious about our purpose because every human was created in God's image and holds intrinsic value. We believe every person has the right to a clear presentation of the Gospel message and that followers of Jesus are to make that message available to everyone in their sphere of influence. The Gospel explains who God is, what He demands, why all humans are guilty in His sight, why they deserve to be eternally put to death, and what God did through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus to provide each person the opportunity to escape what they deserve (eternal death) and receive what they don't (eternal life).
Now even though we are serious about our purpose, that doesn't mean we are weird. We're about as normal a group of people as you will find. We love to laugh and have fun. We love to eat and hang out together. We're also a pretty diverse group when it comes to age, social status and personal interests, but we are unified in our purpose. Taking our purpose seriously just means the members of Hope Fellowship recognize what's at stake and what God has called us to do.
Our strategy is very simple: Jesus called us to make disciples. That calling is at the heart of everything we do. Therefore, every service, class, group or activity in which our church engages is designed to help our members better share the Gospel with all who will listen and then teach the rest of God's word to those who respond in faith and repentance. We believe that not only is every local church responsible to bring people to Jesus, they are just as responsible to bring those believers to spiritual maturity. We believe a disciple isn't simply a person who responds to the Gospel message, but is someone who continues to grow in their knowledge and obedience to God over their lifetime.
Our goal is to make fully devoted followers of Jesus. Anything short of that means we have failed in our purpose. While we can't control what people choose to do, as a local church, we can control what our priorities will be. We've chosen to be a church that develops disciples of Jesus. That doesn't mean we are inwardly focused or aren't outreach minded, it simply means that our primary goal isn't to simply grow this church numerically. We've discovered that only God can grow His true church. Man-made efforts can increase the number of attendees, but not the number of true converts. That's why we absolutely despise the modern "church growth" movement because it fills the church with unregenerate people who aren't truly converted, but think they are. This has caused great damage to the true cause of Christ in our nation and beyond.
We have discovered that if we will simply proclaim God's word and live it out in front of others, He will take care of adding to His true church, just like He has always done. (See Acts 2:47). We have also learned that if we love and take care of those God sends our way, while teaching them through the Scriptures how to know, love, worship, obey, and enjoy Him, we will be successful in God's sight. That's all that really matters to us.