If stewardship were only about getting the maximum value from an old building, King’s Community Church
on King Street, that Goff Hope had the privilege of leading for over 20 years, would be a model example.
The old “Norwich Lads’ Club
” (set up by the police, at the end of World War One, for boys who had lost their fathers in the war), was at the end of a journey. Goff saw its potential as church, community centre and meeting rooms for business and education, all asked for by those responding to King’s local survey. This must be the most used and useful building in Norwich today.
But as Goff points out, stewardship is far more than this, for it is enabling people to discover their gifts, the fruit of the Spirit, having compassion.
Goff’s father and grandfather were clergy in the Church of England, but it was Billy Graham
at Earl’s Court
in the 1960s, who woke him to personal faith in Christ, and later, Henri Nouwen who opened his eyes to “the laughing embracing father heart of God”. He had been a project manager for ITV but now he discovered the Person and gifts of the Holy Spirit at Kensington Temple
, studied theology at London Bible College
, and entered the ministry.
He was invited to become the pastor of a charismatic congregation meeting in Sprowston High School
. In 25 years that congregation has become a three-centre church (meeting at Mile Cross and the golden triangle as well as King Street: the “same DNA having an impact where people live”) with links through ‘New Frontiers’ to charismatic congregations around the world.
I was especially impressed by Goff trips to China
, where there are “more Christians than in the whole of Western Europe”. He spoke of a new congregation near Tiananmen Square,
which met in a restaurant for “happy hour”, but had to move, as so many people were finding Christ.
A close friend of Goff’s runs an orphanage, school and factory, which is visited by students from King’s. The important thing is to “engage people in mission: to gather, grow and go, whether that’s across the street or across the nations.”
Hospitality lies at the heart of so much that makes this church special. Hospitality to all the people who use the building. Hospitality within the congregation, as members of one family welcome in each other’s homes. Hospitality to the less fortunate (those “who are struggling to make life work”), with food and laundry facilities, on Sundays when other agencies are closed. Sharing the precious gift of life.
Goff has discovered the delight of bread making: “bringing a whole new meaning to Jesus being the bread of life!” Goff also enjoys the occasional sail on the Broads to enjoy the solitude.
Goff has retired from his leadership role, although he admits to being in the Centre for half the week. This has freed him to spend more time supporting other leaders: King’s recently hosted a conference for 600 church leaders working together in a broken world. The church shows that God loves people. Christians are the Good News, and when there is a disaster in some country, Christians have a political voice because of the hospitality they have given.
At King’s, hymns focus on the Lord. Worship magnifies God, exalts Jesus, and honours the Holy Spirit. Every musical instrument is used and every voice valued. Goff was enthusiastic about the music of Graham Kendrick and Matt Redman, but also the new music that is coming now, just as he values the new dreams that his young congregation are wanting to develop for the future. Believers are baptised, bread broken and the sick prayed for.
Once “ruined by the Grace of God”, he finds his congregation excel in the grace of giving. “God has prior knowledge of the worst about me yet through what Jesus accomplished on the Cross, gives me totally undeserved love and favour. That’s grace, and it’s life changing!”
Pictured above is Goff Hope.
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