By Lou Redd
Hope Fellowship was an interesting, enjoyable and opportunity-filled experience. It is composed of fine God-loving, Bible-believing people who are eager to take Christ into a community that needs our Savior.
It began with a group of believers who felt they needed to plant roots in the community of which they were a part. So they assembled together in homes in order to study God’s Word and seek direction from the Father. After much prayer, Jodi and John Pesch contacted David Jackson who pointed them to me. I met with a leadership group and after much prayer on my part, I accepted a call to be the planter/pastor of Hope Fellowship. On Sept. 17, 2006, we began meeting each week with Bible Study and worship at the Youth Center in Greenbelt, Md.
The number one factor, among others, that has impressed me in this experience is that while we always aim for church growth, our people remain more concerned about church health. After all, God fills the seats, but we need to be spiritually aligned with His will.
As a community of Christians, we have reached out to our neighborhoods in both physical and spiritual ways. Our 24-hour telephone line provides information for those inquiring about Hope Fellowship. We have two other 24-hour phone lines: one for our youth group, Soul’d Out, and one that shares the pastor’s verse of the day and a devotional thought. In addition, our Hands of Hope food ministry is maintained by two women of the church. Safe Haven is a program for homeless men who are cared for a week at a time in conjunction with other community churches. Though we do not have facilities to house them for a week, we provide meals and our men stay with them all night at the location of other churches nearby.
There are other ministries that have been effective, as well. During the Labor Day weekend event called the Greenbelt Festival, we have a dunking booth called “Dunk-a-Punk.” Our youth work the booth with help from adults. Through the use of the booth, we are able to help raise funds for community services and needs. In addition the Pesch family has a horse ministry for special needs children who ride as part of therapy. In all of our ministries to our community, we focus upon two effective ministry keys: purpose and place. Why are we doing what we do, and Is this where God wants us to serve Him best?
What have I learned personally in this latest spiritual journey? As a former three-sport high school coach, I subscribe to Coach John Wooden’s belief, “When you are through learning, you are through.”
Another great lesson is work with what you have. We have the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit who as one God work through us. Unless and until God sends someone else to replace you, stay on the task given you.
The next lesson is if the Lord calls you do something, just do it; you do not have to have all the answers. Jesus Christ is your authority, given to Him by His Father. Follow Him, period.
Finally, keep it simple. Even though it’s easy to say, simplicity is one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever had to learn. Why do we make everything so complicated?
Principles are very important as we lead people, but I truly believe the most important truth I can apply in my life is to be filled with and controlled by the Holy Sprit. How can I lead others if I am trying to lead in my own strength? When I am in harmony with Him, He controls my worship, my walk and my witness. This enables me to strive for a higher degree of accountability. Any resulting success in whatever phase of my life is due to the Holy Spirit’s work with and through me.
Lou Redd, until very recently, served as church planter/pastor at Hope Fellowship in Greenbelt, Md. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (410) 340-8242.