It's been a while since we updated you with news from our little community. A lot has happened in the last few months. By God's grace we're now in the second year of our plant (in 2 months time we'll celebrate a year of Sunday worship services). At the start of this year we really felt we needed to focus on the basics of the Christian faith. 2013 had been a good year for us and our basic structures were all up and running but we felt we were lacking in doing some of the basics well. So we made two commitments to each other in January, and asked God for his help in these:
1) That we would cultivate deep spirituality both individually and corporately. We got together and prayed for God to meet with us in a special way, filling us with his love and assurance. Without the life-blood, which is the love of the Father, we cannot hope to plant this church and so cultivating a robust and deep spirituality had to be a number one priority in 2014. This means increased focus on prayer, corporate worship, and the practice of spiritual disciplines - both communally and as individuals.
2) That we would cultivate meaningful relationship both inside and outside of our church. God's love needs to spread - that's simply the very nature of his love. And the way he has consistently spread his love is through relationships - people sharing their lives with each other while keeping the gospel at the center. We knew we couldn't hope to plant this church if we were not cultivating these relationships with people in our church and with people who are not yet part of our church. We ask for God's help in this great task and privilege.
So far the year has been exciting as we've committed to these two things. New people have joined us, for which we praise God, and our church has been growing in depth and in opportunities to serve our city. The Lord has brought interesting and diverse people to us and is teaching us how to be community to each other in all the ups and downs of life. He's also opened doors for us to serve the community (see the picture of the the team serving at the Arise Family Day).
I prayed earnestly at the beginning of this year that God would expand our relational base - to date he has been very faithful in answering that prayer. God is definitely at work, and for this we are deeply grateful.
Please uphold the following things in prayer with us:
- Continued growth both numerically and in terms of the depth of gospel understanding in our group.
- That God would honour our commitments to cultivate deep spirituality and meaningful relationships.
- Please pray for us as we think about how best to serve families with children. To date we haven't developed this area of the church and so we're looking to expand here and serve people in this life stage.
- Pray for God's spiritual protection over our community. I seem to be having way more pastoral meetings this year than last. I have no doubt that Satan would like to disrupt the work here so please pray for God's strength in the hard times.
Thank you again for this partnership in the gospel.
God's Richest Blessings,
Stephan and Robin Murray (and the rest of the Hope City Crew!)