The Simple Pastor gives a good account of it here http://www.thesimplepastor.co.uk/2011/01/launching-hope-church/ but the service was well thought through,informative about the old churches and new church, with good worship,good participation in prayer and a helpful sermon from Martin Charlesworth which rehearsed something of the history of the church and encouraged them as they go forward into the future
I was struck that the new church was described by one of it leaders as missional in intent, and even more struck by some of the ministries they are engaged in especially Grease Monkeys an innovative and inspiring project for 16-24 year olds that provides them with hands on car mechanics experience
To extrapolate from the local to the national; In an age when we rightly worry about church attendance stats,the evening highlighted some hopeful things about the evangelical church in this country in 2010
- We are much more united than we have been for many years ,there is not only a willingness to work together but also a desire to do so
- We are even willing to merge churches ,and let old and cherished traditions die for the sake of the Kingdom, as Hope Church have done..I personally expect church mergers to become more common,not because there is a desire to huddle together against the storms of secularism and materialism but to release energy and resources for mission
- Churches seem much more willing to try new ministries and to innovate generally .I haven't heard the words "we have never done it this way before " for a few years which has to be positive!
- Churches are much less likely to be preaching centres these days and much more determined to put down deep roots into the local community they serve
- There seems to be an increasing desire to worship and an increasing desire to pray which ,not surprisingly builds faith which in turn encourages mission
Now not everything in the garden is rosy ,there are enormous challenges ahead for the Christian church but there are also great reasons for hope
The next decade or so could be very exciting ,I certainly hope so.