How often do you get to sit down with friends for coffee? How frequently do you get to really talk about what is going on in your area? Rarely, I imagine. And yet it seems that when we take the time to connect with one another, sometimes God uses these conversations as appointments to do his work. Maybe you know what I mean. You sit down and unwind; you share what is going on in your life and your work. Suddenly you realise that God is saying something. These moments are amazing, aren’t they? You never know where they might happen (on the phone, after a busy church service or just at home), but when they do, they often demand a response.
The Beginnings of a Vision
I vividly remember one of these “God appointments” because the outcome of one casual drink has had a massive effect on my life and the lives of many others. I had joined two companions, Andy Hawthorne (The Message Trust) and Mike Pilavachi (Soul Survivor), both directors of youth movements in the United Kingdom. Very quickly it turned into a much more meaningful conversation. We somehow found ourselves asking, “Where and how does God want us to respond now?” We had been involved in missions around the UK and we had seen Jesus touch many lives, but strategically what did God require from us next? Instead of trying to answer it on our own, we turned our attention to the one who could provide the way forward. Together we began to ask God for his heart for our nation and what he wanted to do among us. I realised that this prayer-fuelled discussion would have dramatic consequences.
As time flew by, we pieced together three things we believe God has been (and still is) doing in our land.
- He is committing the Church to word and deed mission. We can look at the national outreaches that have taken place over the last few years for evidence: Soul in the City in London, Festival Manchester, NE1 in the North East of England and many others. These missions bear the hallmark of a new move of God: People not content to preach without using social action, or wash cars without sharing who Jesus really is. They are hungry to use the two together.
- He is bringing different denominations together, asking them not to focus on their differences, but to be united for the sake of the gospel and reaching lost lives.
- He is asking us to take huge steps of faith, to enlarge our vision of what he can do in our locality and throughout the British Isles.
When we finished our prayer and planning, we felt God calling us to action. We envisioned a whole year of mission across Great Britain. We would serve as a catalyst, enabling the Church to better serve and reach their local communities. We pictured a grassroots movement, with the UK Church coming together to build on existing work, launch new initiatives and raise the bar to reach thousands more in the name of Jesus. Whether that was in a small village or a major city, we wanted Christian brothers and sisters of different backgrounds serving side by side through word and deed mission. Although we felt people of all ages should be involved, we particularly wanted to encourage young people to bring some leadership, especially since eighty-five percent of revolutions have been led by the younger generations. These thoughts marked the beginning of Hope 08.
The Church’s Support of Hope 08
We launched the new vision, believing that God had spoken and therefore hoping that by his Spirit he might mobilise his people to make a difference in the UK. We sought the advice and wisdom of all the major denominational leaders and every one echoed our sentiments. They all felt that the time had come for this type of outreach. This confirmed to us further that God was truly at work.
We needed the backing of the Church nationwide to implement such a vision. God had to take the dream, place it in peoples’ hearts and enable them to implement the Hope08 values in their locality in creative ways. This is exactly what has happened.
Hope 08 Today
Let me take you to the city of Nottingham, where the churches have come together and decided they want to visit every school in the area with the gospel. They are also going to have two weeks of summer mission which will end with a massive celebration either at the castle or in the open square in the middle of the city. In my own home town of Rugby, church leaders have gathered and are carefully building on their existing “Revive” strategy, which then works to launch a follow-up initiative for Hope 08.
Hope 08 Calendar
January 2008 is a time for “Fresh Hope,”
March 2008 is “The Big Hope,” activity
May 2008 is “Hope Where You Live,”
During the summer of 2008 we are
September 2008 is “Hope Explored,”
December 2008 is “The Gift of Hope.”
For more information contact: Ian
There is more confirmation of God at work in Preston, Hastings, Manchester and Liverpool. Christians in this last city are sending mailings to the churches, asking to partner with them. Their plan is to use the two cathedrals on Hope Street to climax the events in the city. In a village just outside of Northamptonshire, the churches have gathered together and decided to do something strategically around their annual flower festival. The interest, excitement and energy flowing from that one small village is quite phenomenal. However, we are not there yet. We have been asking God for a tipping point, where things will suddenly take off. Over three thousand young people have committed themselves to the “Hope Revolution.”
However, we dream that there might be 100,000 people with that desire. Almost four hundred centres have registered for Hope 08 to date. We have been overwhelmed by the relationships already developing between denominations, networks and agencies; however, we know there could be so many more. Ultimately, we dream of seeing 100,000 people in prayer groups, major missions in the largest cities, five hundred smaller towns and cities involved, one million hours of kindness (in partnership with the police and government), one thousand school missions and much more. We are, as you can see, greedy for God to move in our land!
We believe that Hope 08 is an opportunity like we have never had before, to work together, as a body of Christ, to witness a move of the Spirit we never dreamt possible. Our hope is that the Church in Great Britain will come out of the shadows and change the Isles in Jesus’ name. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are still few (Matthew 9:37-38). I urge you to join with us in asking the Lord to unite his people and send them out as workers into his fields. They don’t stay ripe for long!
Please use the calendar of events to pray strategically during the year. And maybe, just maybe, it is your turn to sit down over a cup of coffee with some friends. It might just turn out to be another “God appointment” for your nation.