Several years ago I received a phone call from a church that was looking for a new Student Director. A friend of mine had given them my name so they wanted to know if I would be interested in moving my family out of the Nashville area and joining them. It was a situation that involved a lot of prayer and listening for God’s voice. It was also a time for Sarah and I to take a moment and recognize how much God had surrounded us with such a wonderful group of people at New Hope.
In a relatively short amount of time we had already developed close, lifelong relationships with a small group of friends at the church. We regularly met together for Bible study, dinner, and events for our children. We laughed together. Cried together. Simply put, we were “doing life” together. In the end, we realized there was no way we could walk away from those relationships. We were Connected to New Hope’s community and we didn’t want to leave it.
In the book of Acts the early Church was able to take root because followers of Jesus bought into a new movement known as “The Way.” Believers knew that being a Lone Ranger for Jesus was not an option. Connecting to others, tending to each others needs, and developing deep meaningful friendships were of the utmost importance.
Fast forward to present day and there is a lot we can learn from the early Church. First, it is almost impossible to get connected to a church body if you are only attending a Sunday morning worship service. Think about it. The worship service is a time for believers to connect with God. We lift our voices in song. We listen to a word from the pastor that is based on Scripture. We pray. We have some social time after the service, and then we go home.
When is there time to develop relationships that go beyond surface level?
Connecting to a church community means going deeper. There needs to be a time of discussion and reflection with other people from the church, and that times need to be separated, and in addition to, the Sunday morning worship service. We believe these kinds of interaction will take place in a new small groups ministry that will launch in the Fall, and we believe God has brought along the right pastor to lead this ministry for us.
On Sunday, July 2, Mark Edington will become our new Connections Pastor. Here is a picture (from left to right) of Mark, his youngest daughter, Emily, oldest daughter, Samantha, and his wife, Lisa.
Mark has well over 15 years experience in full-time ministry. He has served as a Worship Pastor and Small Groups Pastor in that time. A few months ago I came across Mark’s resume and began to have discussions with him about starting a small groups ministry at New Hope. As we discussed the church it became clear that God was up to something special. We were on the same page with almost every ministry detail we discussed.
Here are a couple of thoughts from Mark on being the new Connections Pastor of New Hope.
New Hope Friends,
Community, it’s in our name for a reason. But it’s not just a name, it’s a value. We, the Church, the Body of Christ, value true community. We desire to come together, learn together and grow together in Christian love and fellowship. Moving forward, we acknowledge that this “community” can and should happen in different ways. The Bible says it like this in the book of Acts…
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:46-47
As we continue to meet together on Sundays and throughout the week for teaching, fellowship and service, we are seeing a need to branch out and begin to “break bread” in small groups throughout the homes in our community. In moving towards meeting that need and addressing this value of our church, we are currently working towards building these small group communities within the larger community at New Hope.
As a reminder of why we do what we do. Verse 47 ends with…
“And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Within our vision for true community at New Hope, at the center is to reach people for Christ. In all we do, may He be glorified and those entrusted to us come to see Him as their Lord and Savior!
Pastor Mark Edington
One of the things that really connected me to Mark is the fact that he has a true pastor’s heart. This clearly comes across when you have a conversation with him. He listens to what you are saying and then responds in love. As mentioned above, Mark also has extensive worship ministry experience, which is a skill we will utilize every Sunday morning. Mark will work with the singers on our worship team to assist in presenting an excellent worship service.
Overall, I am excited to welcome Mark, Lisa, Samantha, and Emily to the New Hope family. Please join me in welcoming them when they arrive on Sunday, July 2.
Also, join me in prayer as we prepare to launch our new small groups ministry in the fall!
Let’s get ready to Connect!