HOPE 2014 is an initiative calling the whole church, reaching the whole nation, for a whole year. At the heart of HOPE is desire for the church to connect with the wider community.
Roy Crowne, HOPE’s Executive Director, says, ‘Let’s embrace the moment – the time is now. Imagine what can happen in 2014 as churches across the country pray and act together. We are stronger together than apart. Yes, we’ve got to demonstrate the love of God, but we are also committed to telling the story of what Jesus Christ has done and our own faith story.’
This call to action for the church is gathering momentum. There is an extraordinary range of denominations, churches, ages, cultures and ministries involved.
Alpha and HOPE have a lot in common. Alpha is a story. It’s story of stories – millions of stories. To date, over 24 million people have done Alpha, asking questions about life, faith and God. Alpha is also the story of what individuals can do together; as churches grapple with how to connect with people, Alpha has created a space where churches can engage with their community.
This leads some churches to leave traditional buildings and run Alpha in more contextually relevant ways for their guests. Alpha has taken place in almost every conceivable place: restaurants, pubs, offices, schools, community centres, university halls, theatres, cinemas and homes. The venue where Alpha takes place frames the conversation. To create an environment where people can talk about the big topics that come up on Alpha, leaders need to think about venue and about context. Sometimes leaving church buildings and running Alpha in spaces where people already meet is the best way to frame the conversation. When church lives for the purpose of its non-members, as HOPE calls us to do, it discovers it’s true identity.