The summer semester of our Connect Groups has now come to an end and I could not be more excited about what God is doing at New Hope and through New Hope! A few years ago I remember praying with members of our staff and leaders for God to pour out the Holy Spirit on our church body. We asked for a fresh outpouring of passion for evangelism and serving in our community, and we prayed for God to restore our desire to meet together throughout the week so we could connect and Grow in His Word, developing deeper friendships with one another.
I believe with my whole heart that the mission of Reach, Connect, Grow, Go was God’s answer to those prayers, and the implementation of Connect Groups has been the gas that has made the engine go. All praise and honor to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Let me share with you some of the exciting things that have been happening.
REACHing People for Jesus Christ
This past summer semester of Connect Groups we had 14 groups meeting throughout the week. In addition to meeting together and participating in reading and discussion of a selected biblical topic, each group was asked to select a community service project that would extend the love of Christ to our friends and neighbors. I asked Pastor Mark for a list of the service projects that have been completed in 2018 so we could all see how New Hope was doing at the Reach portion of our mission. Here is that list:
SERVICE OUTREACH PROJECTS
- provided storage bags for Youth Villages.
- provided storage bags for Helping Hands.
- raised funds for Project Life.
- provided funds for a family that lost a husband/father.
- wrote and distributed thank you notes and delivered cookies to local firemen.
- wrote notes of encouragement to the prayer request individuals on the prayer chain.
- visited local nursing homes.
- volunteered at New Hope’s Respite Night.
- volunteered at 2nd Harvest Food Bank.
- volunteered to do housework for a church member in need.
- did yard work and house work for an individual with a disability.
- provided supplies and resources for the classroom of a local 1st grade teacher.
- served dinner at the Nashville Rescue Mission.
- provided school supply bags for the Nashville Rescue Mission.
- prepared supply bags for the Home Street Home homeless ministry.
- volunteered and packed supplies for the Project Cure medical supply warehouse.
- prepared bags of non-perishable food items to be distributed to the homeless.
- cleaned the trails at Percy Warner Park.
This is not only awesome, it is also a substantial increase in the amount of local missions we are engaging in as a church. Look at this thank you note that was recently posted on New Hope’s Facebook page.
“THANK YOU to Jennifer Alba & her Small Group from NEW HOPE COMMUNITY CHURCH for the awesome donations including enough summer survival blessing bags (that included Water, Insect Repellent, Wipes and Lotion) to bless dozens of our friends.”
Steven Allen Young, Executive Director
Home Street Home Ministries
CONNECTing People to the Church
Not only have our groups done an exceptional job of Reaching people for Christ, they’ve done a great job of Connecting new people to the church. Not long ago I had Liza Bates (our former Communications Director) compile participation numbers for Sunday school and Wednesday night activities from 2016, which was the last full year we offered continuous 9:00 AM Sunday school classes and 6:00 PM Wednesday evening classes. At its highest, we had 45% of our congregation participating. This was a solid number and around the current average in the church world.
I am happy to report that in the summer semester alone, our Connect Groups had over 90% of our church body in a group! 90%!!!
We believe this can be attributed to two things.
1) Multiple group offerings for almost every day of the week.
2) The breaks that are built in between each Connect Group semester.
I know there are some who have had a tough time adjusting to the breaks between semesters, but over the course of one year we have seen that implementing breaks into the groups doubles the participation rate of the overall church. In scriptural terms, this is what Jesus meant when he spoke about the shepherd who was willing to leave the other 99 sheep to find the one lost sheep (Matt 18:12). If you have had a difficult time accepting the breaks between Connect Groups, my prayer would be that you would be gracious and flexible with this new season at New Hope because God has seen fit to double the amount of people we are reaching with this new approach to ministry.
One more thing, we just opened sign ups for the Fall Semester of Connect Groups and we now have 17 new groups available. Early sign ups are indicating that the next semester will have even more people Connected! That’s because New Hope as a whole is growing.
GROWing People in Their Faith
In April we began our “All In Baptisms,” baptizing people on the last Sunday of each month. We have been praying that more and more people would accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior at New Hope. More and more new people are coming to us and saying they need to rededicate their life to Christ. So when it comes to baptisms we took this motto, “If we fill it, they will come!” For four straight months we have had people of all ages step into the baptismal so we could see the “old self” being washed away and the “new life” springing forth in Christ! 13 people have gone “All In” so far, and we are believing that that is just the beginning.
If you have never been baptized before you can sign up on the church webpage, or you if would like to rededicate your life to Christ you can plan on going “All In” on the last Sunday in August!
Speaking of new life, New Hope Students (Grades 6 – 12) continues to see growth. Pete Wells, our Youth Director, is building a youth lead worship team and creating new service opportunities for the students in our church because of the growth that is taking place in the group. I’m sure you’ve noticed an increase in the amount of students who are sitting in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings. I have!
New Hope Kids (Grades K – 5) is also expanding because of the solid program Ms. Lauren Cochran and her team has put together. Both Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings are full or worship, energy, Scripture, learning, crafts, and more! We have seen a large amount of new young families flow into the building each week, and they are staying with us. And that is because both the Student and Children’s ministries are strong and healthy right now. On Sunday, September 9th you’re going to see both groups on full display because they will be leading New Hope’s worship service!
Pastor Paul’s Young at Heart group for the retirees of New Hope has also been growing this year. Pastor Paul describes this group as a “60 and over Connect Group that has a great time of fellowship, discussion, and reflection upon our experiences throughout the highs and lows of life.” Not only are young families coming to the church, but they’re also bringing their parents with them.
We are in a wonderful season of growth, and all praise and glory goes to Jesus Christ!
GOing and Making Disciples
We have a growing number of guests who visit New Hope every week during our Sunday Worship services, and they have been telling us that they were INVITED by a member of New Hope. That is extremely exciting! It is one thing to attend a church, but it is another thing altogether to be excited about your faith, to share where you go to church, AND to invite others to your church. Statistics have shown that a large majority of people will not visit a church unless they have been invited, and that same majority said they would visit if they were invited. So let’s complete the mission of Going and making disciples by inviting our friends, family, co-workers, etc to New Hope!
I love Jesus…and I love His Church…and I love this church. We are New Hope!
#reach #connect #grow #go