One of my other trips this year was to visit Hope Whitby. Hope is a new church planted by Leigh and Bec Coates based on a network church model. It has grown from a planting team of 7 people to a network of 20 missional communities spread across the Yorkshire Coast connecting with at least 140 people.
The Hope journey sounds like it has been quite a whirlwind and much of it is driven by the Coates’ passion and commitment to mission. They are the kind of people who just want to love people and help them discover Jesus! That passion is infectious and it was exciting to see meet some of their key people and see how they were catching the disciple-making bug.
Hope Whitby is messy and fast moving, but very exciting. This growth seems to be sustained by three things.
Worship, prayer, discipleship. The way Leigh and Bec tell the Hope story they did nothing but pray for the first 2 years. They are convinced that the mission is Gods and that their ability to participate relies on their friendship with him. Their communities prioritise time in prayer, bible study and life-changing discipleship. This gives a joy and strength to their planting and pioneering work – even in the tough times!
Community Engagement. There a regular points in the month where Missional Communities engage with the wider community. They run gig nights, youth clubs, old-folk’s drop-ins etc. and are deliberately looking for ways to connect with as many people as possible at these events. Much of their energy and time as a church seems to go into creating and maintaining these community events, where relationships are established and built.
Missional Impulse. I’ve been with few people who have such a drive to take risks, try new things and plant different MSCs. Leigh seems to have taken it as a challenge start as many gospel shaped communities as he can! This is a deliberate strategy, Leigh told me that he believed one of the key secrets to the church’s growth was that he was trying to get each MSC to multiply or plant a community beyond itself.
These three commitments, to real connection with God, to serving the Whitby Area and to going into new places with God’s gospel help explain some of the joy, dynamism and growth Hope is experiencing!