If you haven’t checked out The Hope Initiative, that will begin next month, I encourage you to do so. Here’s why:
First, it’s a strategy focused on getting believers re-focused on the Great Commission in their community. Most churches—including those started with an outward focus—eventually turn inward. This strategy seeks to reverse that direction in a simple way.
Second, it’s pastor-led. That’s not to say, though, that laypersons aren’t involved and invested; in fact, the laity involved will far outnumber the pastors—and that’s one of the goals. It’s simply to say that a strong, intentional Great Commission focus begins with pastors.
Third, it fits in a pastor’s daily work. It doesn’t require a pastor to add stuff to an already-full plate. Pastors only need to recruit a few members, lead them, and encourage them for 30 days—days that we pray will lead to ongoing change in the DNA and culture of the church.
Fourth, it’s basic, simple, and reproducible. In our beta testing of this strategy, pastors and laity have said to us, “This approach just leads me to do what I should have been doing in the first place.” Following 30-days of daily steps described in Thom Rainer’s book, Pray & Go, The Hope Initiative takes believers to the Word, to their knees, and into their community.
Fifth, it doesn’t require a lot of training. In fact, one meeting to describe the process can get participants ready to go. We know that the more complex the process is, the less likely it is that many people will get on board—and the Great Commission is too important to let complexity get in the way of obedience.
Sixth, it’s an ongoing process. Even after church members have completed the 30 days, our Church Answers team will send them a weekly email for the next eleven months giving them more practical ways to do the Great Commission. Our goal is that the 30 days will be only a “jump start” for a church.
Seventh, it’s filled with hope. It really is. Rather than focus on the many ways churches need to improve, this strategy focuses on turning a few believers outward—and, in my judgment, any pastor will find renewed hope when even a few members move in the right direction.
Again, check out The Hope Initiative if you haven’t already. I’m excited about it.
Posted on May 9, 2023
Dr. Chuck Lawless is a leading expert in spiritual consultation, discipleship and mentoring. As a former pastor, he understands the challenges ministry presents and works with Church Answers to provide advice and counsel for church leaders.
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I am excited about The Hope Initiative! I pray that The Lord will use this to transform churches on the local level and I pray on a national level.
I’m a servant of The Great Commission. Looking forward to The Hope Initiative!
An observation from a Pastor who has ended up being the go-to person in my church, there are many pitfalls in being “a Pastor-led initiative” even if the intent is to be focused on the lay people in a parish. Unless a lay person with some power and/or clout is the champion for getting the other lay involved, experience shows that everyone will wait for the Pastor to lead and make decisions.
This could be a big problem for churches that actively in decline, not simply needing a rejuvenation. While this looks good, as I learned very recently with a by-design lay led program, everyone went to the clergy to get approval for changes to the schedule of events for a retreat. Even though the leader of the retreat was a lay person and there were 3 clergy and 53 lay people in attendance.
Thanks for your helpful thoughts, Les.