We're canceling all corporate (on site) worship and gatherings at Hope until further notice, due to the Coronavirus, but we invite you to join us for morning worship every Sunday via Facebook live from Hope United Methodist Church's Facebook page at 10:30 am, for the Hope UMC Praise and Prayer Check-In every afternoon at 4 pm.
You can access Hope's Facebook page without joining Facebook by selecting "not now" when prompted to "log in" or "join Facebook".
This summer I’ve been doing a sermon series on Revelation 2 and 3 called “Letters from Jesus.” We’ve been listening to what Jesus had to say to seven churches in Asia Minor (what is now Turkey) at the end of the first century, and what He has to say to us today.
To help with my sermon preparation, I purchased a little Bible study called “Seven Letters to Seven Churches.” In the introduction the author writes:
“What if Jesus would write a letter to your church? What would he say about your leaders and your worship? What attitudes and failures would he expose—and what would he praise? What if he laid out options for the future of your church?
“If we had a letter like that, we would have no trouble moving in the right direction or in a new direction. We would say, ‘This is what Jesus wants our church to do or to be,’ and we would pursue that goal with all our energy and resources…
“…Or would we? Would it really make any difference if Jesus spoke directly to us as a body of believers?”
Brothers and sisters, Jesus HAS spoken to us directly as a body of believers! There’s no question about it: Jesus wants to seek and save the lost through us! Our lives—redeemed from sin by grace through faith in Christ and filled with the love and power of the Holy Spirit—are the instruments through which He wants to accomplish His saving work in our community. God is ready, willing and able to use Hope United Methodist Church to help our neighbors, our children, and our grandchildren, meet Jesus Christ and become His disciples.
The question is, are we willing to offer up our lives to Jesus so that He can share His gift of salvation and eternal life with a lost and dying world through us? Are you?
If your answer to that question is, “yes,” I’d like to ask you to join in—or at least keep an open mind about—some discussions we are having in Administrative Council about how we can increase the number of first time guests at our Sunday worship services, and how we can do a better job of putting people at ease when they come to a worship service at Hope for the first time.
What does increasing the number of first time guests and helping people feel comfortable in worship have to do with helping people meet Jesus and become His disciples?
Well, think about how you came to saving faith in Christ. Somebody told you about Jesus and embodied the love and grace of Jesus for you. It was in hearing the Gospel and experiencing Christ’s presence and power in the lives of His followers that God’s grace met you and brought you to repentance and faith. That might have happened in your home or at school or at work, but it happens for most people in the context of a worshipping community; a local church.
Most people who actually meet Jesus and become His disciples do so in a local church. And it doesn’t usually happen all at once. It takes time for God to bring people into relationship with Himself and His people. So people not only need to come to church…they need to come back!
But as we all know, fewer and fewer people attend worship services. I’m not griping. It’s just a fact. “Going to church” is just plain not normal behavior for the vast majority of our neighbors, our children and our grandchildren. The very idea of attending a worship service is actually frightening to many people today. They have no idea what to expect, and they worry that they will be judged instead of welcomed and loved.
One of the devastating consequences of this trend away from involvement in the life of the local church is that the opportunities for our neighbors, our children, and our grandchildren to meet Jesus and become His disciples have been dramatically curtailed. God loves them. Jesus has done everything to save them, but they don’t hear the Gospel, and they don’t experience the love of God. As a result, more and more of them remain unsaved; dead in their trespasses and sins.
That’s why two of the most important things we can do to help people meet Jesus and become His disciples are to invite people to worship and do everything we can to make them feel welcome so that they are willing to accept our invitation to come back and worship with us next Sunday, too.
I think what Jesus is saying to Hope is, “Work with Me!” God wants to use Hope to help people meet Jesus and become His disciples. Jesus hasn’t given up on seeking and saving the lost in the Capital Region. We need to let Him lead and guide and equip and empower us to be a congregation He can use to love souls into the Kingdom of God.
That’s what we’re talking about in Administrative Council on Tuesday September 12 at 7 pm in the Gathering Room. There’s a place for you in the conversation. There’s a need for you to be part of Jesus’ ministry.
 Douglas Connelly, Seven Letters to Seven Churches (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2017), p. 5