At the time I was serving as a hospital chaplain, I had 18 years pastoral ministry experience before that, but finding myself sitting in the pews on Sunday morning was painful. There was a disconnect from where I was sitting and where everything was happening, which was upfront.
My heart, mind, and soul was disconnected from larger worship experience and for several months I had no idea why other than to assume that I had lost something in my Christian experience. Actually, I was leaning on the probability that I was so use to being a professional church leader that my real struggle was likely just an awkwardness of being in the pews and not in the pulpit.
Those several months turned into several years and the feeling of awkward disconnect didn’t change. It became a challenge to me to figure out what was wrong. Attending different worship styles and programs didn’t help. Sitting in a pew before different styles of preachers didn’t help. In fact, before I figured it out my family and I enjoyed being part of one of the finest congregations I have ever known.
However, even with a godly biblical preacher and an engaging worship music ministry, my unexplained disconnect continued until one day it occurred to me that I was hearing a certain theme among patients and their families.
I kept hearing a theme among our patients and families as I went about my tasks as a hospital chaplain. Almost daily, I would encounter a patient or family member who would engage me in a spiritual or biblical conversation, to which I usually asked about their church affiliation or congregational fellowship.
As a hospital chaplain it was important to me to know if a patient had a church family because that gave me some insight to their beliefs on healing and also let me know if I could expect church support in that process.
Surprisingly, I kept hearing “I don’t attend church” followed by an explanation of not fitting in or not finding a connection within a congregation. Now I realize that some people have had such strong family ties to church life that they learn to talk the talk but maybe not walk the walk, sort of speak.
Those who caught my attention were the ones who were clearly articulating their personal faith in Jesus Christ and acknowledging their need to be in fellowship, yet openly confiding in having a disconnect.
One unique thing often included in these stories was a positive reflection of a Sunday School class or a Bible study group, despite their disconnect with a worship service or congregation on the whole. As many of these folks shared their stories, I realized that it was my story, too.
It really didn’t matter why we all had a sense of disconnect with our church experience. I toughed it out, but in the stories I was told many did not and their reasons varied. I came to the conclusion that the Kingdom of God was not meant to be built on a one-size fits-all program, much like a traditional classroom overlooks those with different learning styles and abilities.
God began to work within my heart to take a step of faith and start a church that was unlike others I’ve planted in the past or unlike the typical church in our area, and that conviction has become CrossHope Chapel.
We come to CrossHope Chapel because we want to grow in grace in an environment that is different from every other church in town. It is more important to us to have a relationship with our Lord than the approval of a denomination, a church, or even a minister.
We come to CrossHope Chapel because we are not always comfortable in big crowds, charmed by rock star style productions, attracted to one-sided pulpit oration, engaged by choirs in beautiful robes, impressed by a firm handshake of welcome for visitors, nor are we easily moved by dramatic piano synced with emotionally worded altar calls.
We are content with a simple and smaller approach, but also restless to grow in number and the gifts new members can bring into our fellowship for new ministries, so we trust in the promise of Zechariah 4:6 which says “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (ESV).
We value being authentic and having a no-judgement church zone to grow in biblical faith, while we patiently wait for God’s leading in our future, and while we remain committed to being “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
We simply teach the word simply, provide pastoral care to our fellowship, and prayer for one-another as we all seek to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
We presently have a comfortable gathering of 20 – 30, but with room to accommodate 50 or more and options to double or triple our leased space at our present location, but we will never lose sight of our Lord’s promise, that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
Want to learn more about us? Please visit the CrossHope Chapel website to learn more.