by ike shepardson
Four years ago, Pastor Peter Henderson and I got on the stage at Living Way Fellowship to announce to the congregation that I would be resigning my appointment as the worship pastor at Living Way to move to Canada to get a PhD. I thought I was putting my days in pastoral ministry behind me. I was mistaken.
When my wife and I moved to Canada in 2014, the Lord led us to a young church plant filled with some of the most sincere and passionate Christ-followers that we’ve ever met. We quickly realized that they needed us to help on their leadership team.
At this time, I thought I was training for a vocation in the academy—teaching in a university, something that I’m already blessed to do on a part-time basis. However, we realized that God was preparing us for a new season of ministry in the church. My wife started to develop incredible leadership and teaching gifts, and she got her M.A. in Strategic Leadership from Life Pacific College at this time. I started to function in an apostolic and evangelistic manner that I never experienced before. People came to us asking for our advice. Our small groups were full of earnest seekers. When we preached, God was drawing people to salvation. And the best thing was that we knew that it was God who was doing something in us.
When we returned to Colorado in 2016, we realized that we were not the same. We had a renewed calling to pastoral ministry. We started to pray with Kelsey and Scott Lasher and Cassie and Tyler Zabor about planting a church together.
In our prayer and discovery over the last year and a half, we have come to see that Denver is filled people who:
· Are looking for wholeness in empty places
· Are looking for purpose, but are coming up unfilled
· Are looking for acceptance, but cannot even find authentic relationships
Denver is filled with
· People who think that truth is relative
· People who have questions and doubts about what matters most
· People who are fascinated by Christ, but skeptical of Christians
The people of Denver are controlled by fear and hostage to anxiety. They are disillusioned and hopeless.
As we look at our city, we see people are unknowingly longing for the life-changing hope that only Jesus can bring.
· The Bible calls him “the God of hope” (Rom. 15:13).
· It says that God’s people are born into “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).
· It says that we have hope only in Jesus, and “this hope [is] an anchor for the soul, firm and secure” (Heb. 6:19).
The only answer to the hopelessness in Denver is the hope that comes through Jesus. Our community will be called Hope Denver Church.
We dream of hundreds of Denverites coming to love and follow Jesus.
We dream of a church that exists for the outsider, the skeptic, and the questioner.
We dream of an authentic community of people living as missionaries in their own culture.
We envision a church that is high on energy, deep on community, engaging, prophetic, attractive, and more of a movement than a place.