It began with a brief phone call and a simple question: How could the churches in Brighton reach our community with the Gospel? The answer to that question—Finding The Hope—spread from one pastor to another. Before long, leaders and members from area churches were meeting to pray, plan and then mobilize for one mission: To make the message of hope in Christ visible and present in every home in Brighton.
Finding the Hope Lights Up Brighton, ON
The partnering churches in this community of 11,000 people in eastern Ontario began to raise congregational awareness by distributing Finding The Hope booklets to their members. The essential strategy was explained to each congregation: After prayer and preliminary outreach, Finding The Hope packets would be mailed to every home in Brighton.
After the mass mailing, a strategy for follow-up ministry would kick in. Church members were encouraged to read and re-read the Finding The Hope booklet in order to be prepared to discuss it with friends, neighbors and acquaintances.
The Brighton Ministerial made plans to saturate the Finding The Hope campaign with several prayer initiatives. A prayer meeting for the campaign was held every Thursday morning at Evangel Pentecostal Church. Six communitywide Lenten services leading up to Easter each included a Finding The Hope prayer component and theme. A Concert of Prayer for all participating churches was also held in February. “Prayer Walks” were done simultaneous with the distribution of door hangers. Various prayer emphases were included in Sunday services of numerous churches.
Coupled with the prayer emphasis were practical initiatives utilizing door hangers, radio spots, newspaper ads, and promotional banners. Finding the Hope messages saturated the area.
The Brighton campaign coordinator observed, “I have seen more connectivity in the Ministerial through this campaign than anything in the last seven years!” He also stated that Finding The Hope “brought healing to a couple of churches and was overall very unifying…. We are praying that the Holy Spirit continues to touch people’s hearts through this campaign…our local Ministerial now works together much better. We have all became unified under the Finding The Hope theme…it has fostered trust and teamwork among the churches.”
The Brighton campaign was timed to coincide with Easter Sunday, but the results were evident even before Easter. Pastors reported first-time visitors attending on Palm Sunday as part of the early wave of response. Other church leaders began to comment on how a heart for evangelism had been stirred in their congregations. One told of an elderly lady in his church who shared the message of Hope with a friend and invited her to church. The friend came and gave her life to Jesus at the service that day! She told the pastor afterwards that she had never even been inside a church before!
Easter was a wonderful culmination point. One pastor writes: “Our Easter service, based on the Finding The Hope theme, was packed to capacity with people sitting in the overflow area. This is the most people we have had in a service (approx. 600–650) since we opened our new sanctuary in 2007. We also underestimated the bulletin count for that day and had to ask people to pass extra bulletins to the aisles to be given to late-comers. God only knows what those little Finding The Hope booklets will do in people’s hearts in the months ahead.”
The Brighton Finding The Hope campaign was not just a one-time thing. Discussions are already underway concerning re-seeding the area with another Finding The Hope mailing next year. Churches are planning to offer programs targeting specific needs and interests such as: Finding The Hope…for Marriage…Parenting…Finances…Aging…Sickness, etc. A Finding the Hope booth will be set up for the annual Applefest in late September, an event that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Visits to the findingthehope.com website continue as well as requests for the 7 Days with Jesus follow-up book.
The Brighton campaign is a Finding The Hope success story, and more chapters are being written! Pray that it will be duplicated in communities across Canada.