Christianity is an historical religion, which means that God reveals himself in history. The Bible does contain wisdom and teaching from and about God but is mostly a history book telling the story of God’s involvement in the world He created.
God is still at work in his creation today. It is therefore very appropriate to look back at his involvement in Hope Church, 5 years after we moved into our second phase – worshipping in Hope Church Centre. Looking back an identifying his involvement with us and what we can learn about him through it.
Over this series of blogs I will share different thoughts of God’s role in our journey.
My first thought is that Hope Church was God’s initiative not man’s.
God spoke to me supernaturally, totally unexpectedly about starting a church in Luton. This would have been around 2001. I was in a meeting of church leaders from across the country when someone started praying for me that the church I was leading was too small a thing and that I needed to move to start a new church. I felt the presence of God very powerfully. Then out of the blue the person prophesied it should be in Luton, my hometown which I had left decades previously, but which he had no idea of.
Over the coming months God spoke in different ways to confirm the call. One time he brought to mind a time just after I became a Christian when I was walking around the streets of Stopsley praying for the churches and my friends, none of who knew Christ, that links would be made. Then as I recalled the incident I felt God say I was going to be the answer to my own prayers. It was another powerful moment.
It took my wife, Anne, a while to be convinced but she eventually came to the conclusion that she had been called to be my wife and that I had clearly been called to start a church in Luton. She therefore didn’t need her own call but should rely on mine.
We therefore declared that we would move to start a new church in Luton. The only condition was that God would supply others to join us. We knew we couldn’t do it on our own.
God answered our prayers for people to come with us. We asked very few, allowing God to be our recruiting officer. He called numbers of people, all willing to move in answer to God’s call. Some knew us from the church we lead in St. Neots; others were finishing University and wanted to get jobs where they could be part of a new church plant and hearing of what we were doing got jobs in Luton; others came from other contexts wanting to be part of a church plant.
Reasonably quickly a team was assembled made up of people willing to move to Luton to start a new church. God’s initiative, God’s church.
Written by Tony Thompson
– based on his sermon from 17th April 2016 – Click here to listen to it
Tony Thompson is the leader of Hope Church Luton. He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.