This is a big week for us as a church.
Lutheran Church of Hope and the campuses and local sites, of which Forest City is on, is celebrating 25 years of ministry. I have had the joy of being on staff for 20 of the 25 years and have had a front row seat to see the many ways God has been at work, transforming lives and impacting the world around us.
But you may not know this part of the story. Hope was actually a restart in 1994.
From 1991-1993 our synod tried to get the church going in what was projected to be a growing part of West Des Moines. But it wasn’t the right time. Then in 1994 they gave it one last shot. When our current Senior Pastor was called to lead Hope he famously tells the story of how the first week they had 50 in worship and the next week, 12. But what they were lacking wasn’t just people, it was a clear mission and vision from God. That was the first thing that they prayed for and God provided. Fast forward 25 years and we are a different church now than we were then solely because we have allowed the Holy Spirit to lead. Are we perfect? NO! But we are following after someone who is in Jesus Christ. And one of our core values that has led to the growth over that time is that “Lost people matter to God so they must matter to us.”
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It is easy to feel comfortable with who is showing up. We have our own seats. We see the same people. We think the same way. Is it any wonder then that church attendance in many areas is dwindling and many are facing closing their doors all together? Now please don’t misunderstand me. There are many factors that contribute to this. One of those I believe though is that we have lost our heart for the lost. When we do that, we stifle our potential for growth.
Here is something that I believe. Jesus wouldn't be hanging out in our churches... He would be going to the football games, and concerts, and other places that people who aren’t a part of a church would hang out. Why? Because the creator of the universe isn’t okay with people on the outside of church not being a part of his story. And he would most certainly invite us to do the same!
So, we aren’t done yet as a church. We are still inviting. And I would challenge you to do the same in your church. Reach out to the people you see at the grocery store, at work, and in the coffee shop that aren’t a part of a church right now. And invite them to join you this Sunday for worship. You never know… they might say yes.