Update from Pastor Mike
Jan. 1, 2021
Happy New Year, HOPE!
We know that dates and numbers on a calendar don’t have a secret healing power, and the year 2021 begins today with no ability to fix all that’s broken in our world. COVID is still a thing. Winter didn’t suddenly end. Most of the hurts of yesterday haven’t magically vanished today.
Still, given the relentless nature of our collective challenges and tragedies over the past year, starting a new year today – and seeing 2020 in the rear-view mirror (right where it belongs) – brings some level of emotional relief. This new year, as it begins, is also a good time to renew our HOPE in the promises of God …
“Let this HOPE burst forth within you, releasing a continual joy. Don’t give up in a time of trouble, but commune with God at all times.” Romans 12:12
“For his fountain of mercy has given us a new life—we are reborn to experience a living, energetic HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3
As children of a living God who brings inextinguishable light to our darkness (John 1:5) and makes everything new (Revelation 21:5), we hold on to our well-placed HOPE no matter what happens … in the past, present or future.
On the deepest and most honest levels, the source of our HOPE doesn’t come from changing calendars, one year to the next. It comes from making a genuine connection with our Creator, who loves his creation so much that he sent his Son to die for us (John 3:16). By God’s amazing grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9), we are joined to our Savior’s death and resurrection (Romans 6:5).
A Savior who conquers death forever can certainly carry us through times of trouble today.
“And so, Lord, where do I put my HOPE? My only HOPE is in you.” Psalm 39:7
Rooted in the promises of God, then, at Lutheran Church of Hope we’re calling this year (annual theme), simply and deeply … A Year of HOPE 2021!
HOPE is here for you! A Year of HOPE 2021 starts this weekend with worship (online or in-person). Pastor Jeremy and I will kick-off a new 7-week sermon series for a new year called All Things New (x7), focusing on 7 biblical texts over 7 weeks that highlight the number 7 (yep, that’s a number worth noting in the Bible) and, more importantly, 7 promises from God to make all things new … for you!
As 2021 begins, our commitment to your physical, spiritual and emotional health remains. We will continue to adjust our ministry schedule and safety protocols based on prayerful and careful analysis of local COVID data. We’re praying there won’t be a post-Christmas spike, but if there is, we’ll adjust. Thankfully, for now, we’ve seen a decrease in percent of positive cases in our area over the past few weeks. So, in alignment with area schools, our ministries for students will transition back to a hybrid model (in-person with required masks and distancing, or online). HopeKids (age 3-grade 5) is online only this weekend (Jan. 2 & 3) and in-person or online starting Jan. 9 & 10. PowerLife (grades 6-8) and Ignition (grades 9-12) start again in-person or online this Wednesday, Jan. 6.
College students can return to Kairos, in-person or online, at Iowa State and Iowa on Wednesday, Jan. 27, and at Drake on Wednesday, Feb. 3. For young adults, REVIVE meets, in-person and online, every Thursday at 6:00 & 7:30 pm in the West Des Moines Chapel, and new groups are now gathering in Des Moines, Ankeny, and Iowa City.
For all adults, a new ten-week online session of Alpha (best place to begin, or begin again) starts Sunday, Jan. 10. If you’ve done Alpha, sign-up for an exceptional new six-week all-church online book study series called Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge that begins Monday, Jan. 11, or After Alpha starting Sunday, Jan. 10. For an even deeper dive, take a self-paced online Bible study taught by Pastor Caroline called David: A Man After God’s Own Heart (Part 1). There’s more … Celebrate Recovery meets in-person or online every Thursday at 6:30 pm. Women’s Ministry and Men’s Ministry groups meet at various times throughout the week, in-person or online.
As always, follow HOPE on social media (YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) and our church website (www.hopewdm.org) for more info on all of these ministries, plus many more … and make 2021 the year you discover the life-changing HOPE that only God can provide!
Update from Pastor Mike
Dec. 23, 2020
Merry Christmas, Hope!
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:10
Jesus’ birth brings joy to the world, light for our darkness, and peace for our souls. As it turns out, our world seems more than ready to take in a full measure of this joy, light and peace!
Christmas at Hope in 2020 has already exceeded expectations. Our Journey to the Light drive-thru experience, offered for free to the community, has become the must-see Christmas event of the year. We had a feeling it would draw a crowd, but we never dreamed it could be like this, with lines of cars backing up for miles to get in. God’s plans are bigger than our dreams!
Please know that our church leaders have been working together cooperatively with our neighbors (love them!), local businesses (love them!), and side-by-side with the West Des Moines Police (love them!). A full team of police officers has been directing traffic each night, and we’re doing everything we can to safely move as many cars as possible in and through Journey to the Light. My heart breaks for anyone who waited and was unable to get in. We’ve kept the entrance open for 30 extra minutes past the scheduled closing time each night to try and accommodate as many people as we can, but to honor our outdoor sound permit, and to be good neighbors, we have to shut it down by 10:00 pm.
Still, if you’re unable to attend Journey to the Light in person, I’ve got a good alternative for you! Please join Hope’s Online Minister, Mark Brandt, and Social Media Coordinator, Ali Dietrich, for a Facebook Live Journey to the Light virtual drive-thru experience tonight, Dec. 23 at 6:00 pm on Facebook and Instagram Live! Hop in his minivan, virtually, via Hope’s Facebook or Instagram pages and enjoy the ride! This will be a camera phone quality live video. We’ll also post a more professional drive-thru multi-camera video at some point over the next few days.
If you plan on coming to Journey to the Light in your own car (tonight or tomorrow night from 5:00-9:00 pm), please do all of the people waiting in cars lined up behind you a big favor by staying close to the vehicle in front of you at all times as you drive-thru the event.
All that said, tens of thousands who have experienced Journey to the Light already have been blown away, including me. Ear-to-ear smiles and tears of joy are the norm … and if anyone deserves a traffic jam, it’s Jesus! We line up for miles to catch a glimpse of his light, because his light alone has the power to illuminate our souls!
If you saw the classic movie, Field of Dreams, you might remember the closing shot where a camera in the sky pans out from the heavenly baseball field on the Iowa farm to a seemingly endless line of cars with their lights on waiting to get in. Tune in for our Christmas Eve Candlelight Services from Hope, and you’ll see a similar camera shot above Journey to the Light at the end of each service! Christmas Eve Services start at 12:00 noon on Dec. 24 and run again every hour on the hour for 24 hours until 12:00 noon on Christmas Day, Dec. 25 (HopeOnline.tv, YouTube, Facebook, Roku, Apple TV, Hope app). These same services will also be televised on WHO-TV 13 on Christmas Eve at 4:00 pm, and again on Christmas Day at 11:00 am.
Finally, and so importantly, I want to say how impressed I am – yet again – by the passion and dedication of this church family called Hope! Thank you to the hundreds and hundreds of volunteers and staff serving together, giving Jesus your best, and letting your light shine! #lovethischurch
PS- The weekend after Christmas, Dec. 26 & 27, join Hope for our regular services at all our regular times – Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm – online or in-person.
Update from Pastor Mike
Dec. 4, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
I believe this is going to be the most memorable, and meaningful, Christmas ever!
That’s saying a lot, because every year on Christmas Eve, this church pulls out all the stops and makes room (last year I think we had 47 services!) for tens of thousands of people to come and celebrate the birth of our Savior. While each year brings new and original surprises, some things (the holiest of things) remain the same: beautiful soul-stirring music, gifted musicians and artists, a Christmas message from God’s Word (a Word that has the power to change lives), a live manger scene and the breathtaking beauty of “Silent Night” by candlelight.
This year, we can’t squeeze 40,000-50,000 people into our church building safely during a pandemic for Christmas Eve, but we can think outside the box. Challenging times lead to creative ideas around here. Even in the darkness of a pandemic, God’s light still breaks through! We’re still going to celebrate Christmas (safely and in style!) this year at Hope … right smack dab in the middle of a pandemic!
From 5:00-9:00 pm on Dec. 21-24, come to Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines (on the corner of Jordan Creek Parkway & Ashworth Road) for an unforgettable JOURNEY to the LIGHT: A Christmas Candlelight Drive-Thru Experience!
As you move in your car from scene to scene, you’ll experience Hope’s best Christmas worship traditions in brand-new (and exciting) ways … dazzling light shows synced to music, live Christmas music featuring Jon Mero and our talented Worship Band, plus a cast of hundreds living out the story of the Messiah’s birth, from Old Testament prophets to radiant angels to the shepherds and the sheep … until your JOURNEY to the LIGHT leads you to a living manger scene and a glorious glimpse of heaven!
It will be an unforgettable Christmas experience … think Hope’s Candlelight Services meets Disney’s It’s a Small World with the lights from the Las Vegas strip (ok, maybe not quite that bright, but we’ve got lots of lights … and if you want to donate more lights, we’ll put them to good use)!
There’s no admission charge for JOURNEY to the LIGHT. We will collect a special offering of nonperishable food items (peanut butter, canned meats, etc.) for our neighbors who are food insecure, and 100% of any money donated at the drive-thru will go to local food pantries.
If you’d like to volunteer (we need several hundred actors, extras, Christmas carolers, and hosts each night, plus lots of set-up crew helpers over the next two weeks), please sign-up today on Hope’s website.
Our mission as a church is to reach out to the world around us and share the everlasting love of Jesus Christ. That’s what we’re doing, again, this Christmas. Instead of stepping back, we found a safe way to kick it up a notch! Come and see … and invite everyone you know to load up the family truckster and drive over to Hope in West Des Moines to experience the full power and light of God’s love this Christmas!
Please also tune in online (HopeOnline.tv, YouTube, Facebook, Roku, Apple TV, Hope app) for Hope’s Christmas Eve Candlelight Services, broadcast from the Worship Center in West Des Moines every hour for 24 hours – 12:00 noon on Christmas Eve until 12:00 noon on Christmas Day. This same 55-minute Christmas Eve Candlelight Service will also be televised on WHO Channel 13 on Christmas Eve at 4:00 pm & Christmas Day at 11:00 am.
Merry Christmas, Hope!
PS- This weekend, join Hope online (95% of our church family does that currently) or in-person (wise and loving safety protocols like masks and social distancing still in place) for worship as we focus on the symbolic meaning of the Second Candle: PEACE on the Advent Wreath. We (Pastor Jeremy and I) will preach on Isaiah 9 and show you how to find peace (that passes all human understanding) in a chaotic world. Tune in or show up … either way come fill up on God’s peace!
Update from Pastor Mike
Nov. 20, 2020
Hi, Hope Family!
Life feels different these days. Some of the good things we want to do we can’t (or shouldn’t) due to the pandemic, like our family’s traditional holiday (holy day) trip to the same crowded house in our old familiar neighborhood for Thanksgiving with what sometimes feels like about 2500 relatives! We’ll miss being together in-person to share a small feast, but this time around we’ll do Thanksgiving with family via laptops and phones. It won’t be the same, but Sally and I will still keep many of our most important Thanksgiving traditions, and we’ll still make those holy day connections with family … even if it’s online. Above all, we’ll give thanks to God for his abundant blessings that endure forever. Life isn’t perfect, but life is still good because God’s love remains, and his promises are true! So, Thanksgiving will be a little different, but it’s still going to happen, and it will still be great!
Now please read the above paragraph again, only this time substitute the word “worship” for “Thanksgiving” …
Challenging times, creative solutions, but God’s love still finds a way! “See” you (the large majority of our church family) online for worship this weekend (HopeOnline.tv, YouTube, Facebook Live, Apple TV, Roku, or the Hope app) where we will meet together virtually to give thanks and praise to God: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm. Or, for those who experience in-person worship as a lifeline, or don’t have internet access, I’ll see you – a relatively small group spread out in a very large room with lots of safety protocols – at those same times. As the pandemic numbers increase (not good), in-person worship attendance decreases (for good reason), but overall worship attendance numbers (online + in-person) are bigger than ever (that’s amazing)! Thank you, Hope, for keeping your eyes on Jesus and staying connected with God and your church family … no matter what!
Like a modified Thanksgiving holiday, weekly worship feels different these days, but it’s still great because God still shows up, still draws us together as one church in thousands of locations, and still fills us with the promise of his everlasting love!
PS- This weekend, Jeremy and I will preach – our Jesus Didn’t Say That sermon series continues – on Christianity compared to other world religions. Our worship band will bring inspiring offerings of music. Children (and children at heart) will learn a Bible lesson from the 10-minute fresh new HopeKids video at the end of each service! Tune in, share Hope’s services on social media, and spread the Word!
PPS- This year’s Thanksgiving Services are set for Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 7:00 pm & Thursday, Nov. 26 at 10:00 am. I’m thankful for you, Hope, and I’m thankful we can worship the Lord together as a church family (online for most, in person for the rest) one way or another!
Update from Pastor Mike
Nov. 13, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
In so many ways, it feels like we’re living in a soap opera filled with over-the-top plot lines unimaginable just a year ago … as if the past eight months haven’t been challenging enough, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again, hospitals worry about keeping staff healthy, ICU beds are full (or nearly full), many schools are moving online, our nation remains politically divided, and a lot of us feel like we’re about ready to “pop” … like sands through the hourglass, these are the Days of our Lives (cue soapy theme music!). Only we aren’t watching this soap opera unfold on TV, we’re living in it!
In response to the harsh reality of this daily drama, we (Hope’s leadership team, pastors, staff advisors, Church Council) spent a lot of time this past week in prayer, asking God for direction. We talked to numerous physicians and community leaders. We’ve practically memorized the alarming statistics and charts. We dug deep to ask the most important question for a church. It’s not, what does this faction, or that group, want us to do? It’s not, what human authority do we want to please? Instead, it’s how can we best carry out our mission to further God’s kingdom and bring life to the world around us? That motive remains consistent at Hope, but new scientific discoveries and wisdom gained from learning where to find peace and share life during a pandemic means faithful leaders must be willing to make new decisions for a new day … rather than stubbornly insist on tying all our policies to outdated protocols that no longer offer the best path forward.
We’ve taken our responsibility seriously since March to minimize the very real physical risks of COVID (so we require masks, social distancing, etc. in our church buildings). We’ve also learned that the mental and emotional risks connected to COVID can be just as deadly. As a church family, we’ve been hit hard by this pandemic (countless hours caring for those who are isolated or scared or angry or lost, constant prayers for the sick, and four funerals for COVID victims. Two of the four COVID deaths we’ve had at Hope over the past eight months were caused by the physical virus. The other two were for (far too young) suicide victims overwhelmed by depression tied to this pandemic. I’m not OK with that. I hope you aren’t either …
So, here’s how God answered our prayers this week. After a lot of prayer and discussion, Hope’s Church Council (elected Board of Directors) voted unanimously to do the following …
- Hope will, in alignment with most local schools, move our ministries for children and students from birth thru high school (HopeKids, One Body, PowerLife, Ignition) to online only until further notice.
- Hope will strongly encourage you (the large majority of our church family) to worship together online – HopeOnline.tv – at our regular weekend service times: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm (all services broadcast live from our West Des Moines campus).
- Hope will make online worship even more convenient for families by adding a fresh and original highly creative 10-minute video for HopeKids (age 3-grade 5) after every weekend service starting this weekend (no need to change the channel or click a new link … just keep the live worship video rolling for the kids!).
- Hope will, for the sake of those who experience in-person worship as an essential lifeline during this pandemic (a handful of Hope folks have told me in-person worship has saved their lives over the past month), as well as those who don’t have internet access (12% of our neighbors in Dallas County), continue to make room in our church building for anyone who is willing to abide by our newly revised safety measures at all weekend services: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm. In addition to required masks, social distancing, no bulletins or offering plates, thorough cleaning before and after each service, starting this weekend we will also temporarily shorten the service length, enforce the mask over the nose rule, reduce the number of volunteers involved, add additional rooms for seating throughout the building (including family rooms). Childcare in the nursery will not be provided for now, and as noted above, HopeKids will be online.
- Hope will, for the sake of the community we serve and love, keep our weekday daycare open for as long as we are able (which includes children of essential workers – medical professionals, police officers, fire fighters, etc.).
Even though we prayed fervently over all these decisions, I realize some will disagree. Some will say they’re too strict, others will say they’re not strict enough. I respect and honor your right to feel the way you do, and I ask that you offer the same in return for us as church leaders. Even when life turns into a soap opera, let’s remember as Christians we are called to stand out as the radical alternative and live differently than the rest of the world. Let’s debate issues without dismissing people or quitting on one another. Let’s avoid careless misapplications of Scripture (none of the “do no fear” passages in the Bible were written to shame believers into “proving their faith” by ignoring science and minimizing a deadly global pandemic, but Jesus did command his followers to “not put God to the test” by taking cavalier risks and then expect God to protect us). Let’s remember that God unites and the devil divides (stay on the right side of that equation). Most of all, let’s remember to love everyone always as we live out these crazy “days of our lives!”
Thanks again, Hope, for rolling with the changes. You’re an amazing church! “See” you online … or if it’s a lifeline for you, in-person this weekend at Hope!
P.S.- If you do feel like you’re ready to “pop” and could use some Christ-centered pastoral care, please know you’re not alone. We’re at your service as a church: call us at 515-222-1520, or (after office hours) 515-875-5300 … or, since this could save a life, here’s the national suicide prevention line: 800-273-8255.
Worship & Programming Updates
Nov. 9, 2020
Dear HopeKids, PowerLife and Ignition Families,
As we’ve continued to closely monitor the fluid COVID-19 situation, we’ve kept a close eye on a number of factors – including percent of positive cases, hospital bed capacities, and local school district decisions, along with constant communication with state leaders and healthcare officials. Given the recent spike in cases in our communities, we have made the prayer-filled decision to temporarily transition all HopeKids, PowerLife and Ignition programming to online effective immediately.
Please know that the health and safety of all is of the utmost importance. We will continue to closely monitor the situation, and communicate any updates or changes to programming as new developments arise.
You will be receiving an additional email from us with ministry-specific details on how your child(ren) can join us for programming beginning this week, so please stay tuned to your email inbox for this information. We will also continue to update our website and social media pages with any other ministry and worship changes, should they arise.
Thank you for your continued flexibility and understanding as we navigate these unchartered waters. We continue to be thankful for the opportunity to still meet online, and look forward to the day where we can safely be reunited in person.
The Youth & Family Ministry Team
Lutheran Church of Hope
Update from Pastor Mike
Nov. 6, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
Several years ago, Sally bought me an Apple Watch (1st generation) for my birthday that I’ve worn ever since. It doesn’t have the latest tech (I prefer not having an EKG on my wrist, thank you very much!), but it still tells time, tracks steps, provides weather updates … and even reminds me to breathe with a gentle tap and a friendly on-screen message.
For years, I ignored those daily reminders. Don’t get me wrong. I do breathe. I’m pro-breathing. It’s just that whatever else I happened to be doing at those moments seemed more important than taking a minute for an intentional breathing exercise.
Prayer can be like that. Distracted by the busy-ness of the moment, we tell ourselves we’ll pray later … but then far too frequently we forget. That’s a problem, because if we’re too busy to pray, then we’re too busy, and something needs to change. So, I decided to use my watch’s frequent reminders to breathe as a call to prayer! Now, whenever and wherever I feel that gentle tap on my wrist telling me it’s time to breathe, I try to find the next available minute to breathe in a few favorite Bible verses and breathe out whatever’s on my heart to God in prayer.
Give it a try. Set your watch, or phone, or find a way to create some daily reminders to pause and pray. Then, to borrow an old motto from Nike (which means “victory” in biblical Greek): JUST DO IT!
More prayer might do a lot of us a lot of good right about now. As you read this letter, then, I invite you to take a deep, soul renewing breath … or forty. Don’t just read about it. JUST DO IT!
Start by turning off, even if just for a minute, all the election news, coronavirus updates, plus any other worries, fears or struggles you might be carrying … “set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)
Get as comfortable as you can, and know that wherever you are, the Holy Spirit is with you. As you breathe in, focus on some familiar promises from Scripture (and feel free to add your own favorites) …
"I am with you always …” Matthew 28:20
“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need. Thank him for what he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace … “
“I know the plans I have for you … plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Even typing out those biblical passages brings a refreshing level of peace to my soul. I hope you’re sensing the same. It’s the power of God’s presence, and it’s so easy to catch … and at the same time so easy to miss in a world filled with stresses and distractions. Don’t let the worries of this world keep you from connecting with God. Take a prayer-filled breath several times a day, every day. JUST DO IT!
PS- This weekend, our new Jesus Didn’t Say That … sermon series continues with a closer look at how to (and how not to) handle tough times. Join us Saturday at 5:00 pm, Sunday at 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm, online (HopeOnline.tv) or in-person (masks, social distancing). Due to the recent increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in our community, we will eliminate one of the two opening songs (to shorten the amount of time we sing together, creating a safer environment) from our order of service this weekend. Out of love for all who come to Hope, we’re keeping our church building as safe and clean as possible during this pandemic. We’re also continuing to closely monitor the recent increase in coronavirus cases. Please follow Hope social media pages or check our website for any virus-related adjustments to our worship or ministry schedule. Meanwhile, if you have any COVID-19 symptoms, do life with someone who has tested positive, or for any reason just don’t feel comfortable attending services in-person at this time, please join us for worship online. Same live service. Same worship times. Same Spirit!
Update from Pastor Mike
Oct. 30, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
Have you ever been misquoted? It can be funny at best, misleading and dangerous at worst.
Back in the day, after a high school basketball game, a reporter approached me (not as impressive as it sounds … he was from our neighborhood newspaper, not the Chicago Tribune or Sun-Times, and the star of the game had already disappeared into the locker room). The reporter asked if beating our rival was the highlight of the season. I told him it felt good to beat a good team, but it would feel even better if we could find a way to win the city championship. The next morning, I read what this reporter said I said: “It feels good to win today, but it will feel even better when we find a way to win the city championship!”
I just about choked on my Frosted Flakes! I didn’t say when, I said if. Just one misquoted word changed the whole meaning. My teammates and coach teased me about my “championship confidence” the next day at practice, but that’s as far as it went – just a funny misquote.
It’s not so funny when we misquote Scripture or try to link Jesus to words he never said. But it happens … a lot. Jesus’ words get twisted around, or invented, by those who seem to care more about their worldly (sometimes sinful) agendas than biblical truth. The stress of a pandemic, and a politically divided nation, fuels the fire … but does it justify our rhetoric? Careless gossip and criticism are in. Kindness and praise are out. Gotcha journalism is in. Assuming positive intent to find common ground is out. Violent words (intended to socially kill enemies) are in. Grace is out.
“Telling lies about others is as harmful as hitting them with an ax, wounding them with a sword, or shooting them with a sharp arrow.” Proverbs 25:18
Words matter. One word can build up or tear down. Unite or divide. Reveal truth or deceive hearts. It’s so important right about now, in a world that’s broken, for the 2 billion plus people who belong to Christ to know what Christ actually said, rather than what others say he said.
For this reason, I couldn’t be more excited – Jeremy and Richard, too – to kick off a new sermon series for November called, “Jesus Didn’t Say That…”, starting with a closer look at what Jesus actually said about worldly kingdoms and governments. Seems timely, don’t you think?! ;-)
Weekend Services at Hope are in-person or online: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm. Invite a friend. Host a Hope Watch Party in-person or on Facebook. Share a link to the services. Let’s do everything we can to move away from misquotes, and toward the timeless and life-giving truth of God’s Word. What Jesus actually said is so much better than the misquotes …
Come and see!
PS- Bad news – last weekend, we had 1,500 brand new Hope yard signs and they’re all gone! Good news – we ordered 1,500 more and they'll be available for you to pick up and post in your yard or window this weekend!
Update from Pastor Mike
Oct. 23, 2020
Good morning, Hopesters!
Jesus will throw a big party this weekend and you’re invited! This party will happen in millions of locations: buildings, homes, outside and online, wherever two or more people get together to worship the Lord. Hope is just one of countless Christian churches all around the world honored to host these weekly Jesus parties for you …
In-Person (Worship Center) or Live Online (HopeOnline.tv)
Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm
Outdoor (Parking Lot), last dance of 2020 (drive-in or wear a parka!)*
Saturday 7:00 pm
In-Person (Chapel) Traditional
Sunday 8:00 am
We’ve worked hard at Hope to make it easy for you to find a way to worship, even during a pandemic. It’s also easy, however, thanks to our sinful human nature, to make excuses …
“I just don’t feel like it today.”
“I’ve got another thing on my schedule, so I can’t make it.”
“I don’t agree with my church on a secondary issue, so I don’t go.”
“Online doesn’t do it for me & I’m not ready for in-person yet.”
“My dog ate it.”
Whatever the excuse to miss weekly worship, and no matter how good it sounds to us … God’s not buying it. It’s not because God needs us to check a weekly worship box to prove our faith. It’s because we’ve all been hard-wired for weekly worship, and it’s good for our souls. When we don’t, our spiritual (emotional and physical, too, according to studies) health suffers.
While I’m glad to see worship attendance at Hope increase during this pandemic, I’m disappointed that Hope’s growth isn’t the norm in every church. Historically, in tough times like these, spiritual awakenings break out. But where’s our revival? Where’s our humility? Where’s our repentance? How bad do things have to get before our world stops turning to loud voices with selfish agendas for answers, and wake up to our need for God?
God has a timely word on this for our world! I’ll preach (Jeremy & Richard, too) this weekend on a memorable story Jesus told that’s filled with invitations, bad excuses, great food and a party that lasts forever! I invite you to tune in online or show up in-person … no excuses!
It’s party time!
*The forecast for this Saturday’s 7:00 pm Outdoor Service is 35 degrees and cloudy. Worship Minister Perry Ross and I are excited to lead this service together (cold air, warm hearts … and don’t worry, I won’t sing!). Given the circumstances, it promises to be a memorable experience for us and the few worship Marines from Hope who show up! Moving forward, as the colder temperatures settle in, we don’t want our guitar players or production crew to freeze their fingers … so following this Saturday’s final Outdoor Service, it will be time to pack up our worship tent until warmer days return. Thanks to all who've attended so faithfully. It’s been a really fun run (there’s no party like a Jesus party!), and you prove that what’s essential for worship is not a particular venue … it’s Jesus Christ, the presence of his Holy Spirit and people like you! #lovethischurch
Update from Pastor Mike
Oct. 9, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
Here’s the lineup for worship this weekend at Hope …
We – Pastor Amanda or I – will preach on a timely and timeless Jesus story: The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). It’s a perfect parable for our wandering world to ponder (again or for the first time).
During the sermon, we’ll also make a big announcement about the exciting future God has planned for Hope in the city of Des Moines. It’s a really good fit with our Good Samaritan theme. If you think it’s the official announcement of the opening of a newly renovated historical church building (where Martin Luther King, Jr. once preached) across the street from Drake University, that’s a good guess. But … think bigger!
Jon Mero, a long-time Hope member and national recording artist, will provide an offering of music via video at all our services this weekend! The Hope Worship Band will lead the rest of the inspiring music (always some of the best live music anywhere in Iowa)!
Live Online Services are still by far the most popular way for Hope folks to worship during this pandemic. Tune in at HopeOnline.tv, Facebook, YouTube, Apple TV, Roku or the Hope app. Better yet, if you can do so safely, bring your family or friends or Life Group together for a Hope Watch Party, as all our services are broadcast live from Hope to you: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm.
If you prefer to show up for worship in-person, Hope’s Outdoor Service on Saturdays at 7:00 pm (weather forecast looks great!) is a great option (drive-in or bring a lawn chair), or pick from one of six in-person indoor worship options …
Last weekend, we had an awesome Jesus party at Hope, homecoming edition! We added Indoor Services to the weekly worship schedule: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm in the Worship Center, and Sunday 8:00 am in the Chapel. The Spirit was strong. Tears of joy flowed freely. And 3,000+ people showed up (about 1/3 of normal attendance, putting us on the high end of the 10-30% range other churches nationwide are reporting). Our Hospitality and Housekeeping Teams did a fantastic job keeping the church building safe and easily accessible. Thanks to each and every one of you for keeping your distance and wearing masks (for safety reasons and/or out of love for those who prefer you do for their safety). No need to reserve your seat/s for worship this weekend. Even with social distancing, there’s still plenty of room at our West Des Moines campus. If it’s safe for you and you’re ready, come on over. If you’re not ready for socially distanced gatherings of a few hundred people for any reason (and there are plenty of good reasons), with my encouragement and blessing, continue to join the larger portion of our church family online for worship.
In-person or online, outside or inside, it’s good to be the church together with you!
Keep the faith!
PS- This weekend, you’ll also hear more about the all-church Find Your Community group study (online or in-person) based on the New York Times bestseller, Everybody Always, by Bob Goff. It all starts Sunday, Oct. 17. This is a great opportunity to connect with new or old friends in your church family, read a good book together and grow spiritually!
PPS- Registration is open now for in-person HopeKids (age 3-grade 5), which begins October 17/18. Thank you for enrolling your kids as soon as possible, as it helps with planning. Online HopeKids (easily accessible on Hope’s YouTube Channel) has been a huge hit (such creative videos!) and will also continue as a great stand-alone option (and supplement to in-person HopeKids) to help your kids get to know Jesus better and strengthen their faith!
PPPS- Thanks to all who donated furniture to Hope for Cedar Rapids, our church’s outreach and care for derecho victims. Our goal was to fill one semi-truck with furniture donations … instead, you ended up filling four semi-trucks in 16 hours! We can’t take any more furniture donations, because the ministry we’re partnering with in Cedar Rapids is both absolutely thrilled and a bit overwhelmed by your generosity (they can’t take in any more right now). Well done, Hope! Way to let your light shine! #lovethischurch
Important Update from Pastor Mike
Oct. 2, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.” Isaiah 43:18-19 (The Message)
Are you ready for “something brand-new?” Feels to me like our whole world could use a whole lot of “new” right about now…
Pre-pandemic, life was far from perfect, but for most it was way better than this. Since March, lives and livelihoods have been lost to COVID. Depression, anxiety and suicide rates are on the rise … as are angry accusations, divisive arguments, judgmental spirits, dismissive social media posts (occasionally based on really bad theology), social isolation, giving up on good things and divorce rates.
A return to our pre-pandemic status would be more than welcome. But here’s the big biblical surprise … God has a track record for doing “something brand-new” for his people in tough times, something way better than a simple return to what was. “Be alert, be present,” God says through the prophet Isaiah to his people who had been living in captivity (and life the way they used to know it) for years, “something brand-new” is “bursting out!”
Let’s pray that God sends that “something brand-new” our way very soon. Perhaps one small but significant sign of hope for us as a church family is the addition of indoor worship to our schedule of services this weekend (for the first time in six months). Now, finally, we’ll have three different ways to worship together at Hope:
+ Indoor Worship
Worship Center: Satruday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm
Chapel (Traditional): Sunday 8:00 am
Social distancing, masks required
+ Outdoor Worship
Church Parking Lot: Saturday, 7:00 pm
Drive-in, or bring your own lawn chair
Social distancing, masks (unless in your car) required
As the weather gets colder, the drive-in section gets bigger!
+ Online Worship
Live from Hope: Saturday 5:00 pm, Sundat 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm
YouTube, Facebook Live, Apple TV, Roku, Hope app
If you plan on attending one of Hope’s indoor services, please reserve your seat/s (this weekend only) at lutheranchurchofhope.org/reservations to assure there’s room for all. Other churches that have already added indoor worship report 10-30% of normal attendance at these services (most still worship online), and we expect the same at Hope.
At all our services, we (Pastor Jeremy and I) will open a new sermon series for October called Once Upon a Time, focusing on the faith-strengthening stories (parables) told by Jesus. When Jesus taught the faith, he did “something brand-new.” He didn’t emphasize theology (‘theo-“ means God, “-ology” means study) as an end to itself, or hermeneutics (how we interpret Scripture), or religious history lessons with verse-by-verse expository preaching. Instead, Jesus told a lot of simple stories that revealed the deepest truths of Christianity and inspired new (better) ways of doing life … the kind of stories that remind family members (the church) who we are (identity), what we do (mission), and where we’re going (vision).
It’s going to be a good month! “Something brand-new” is starting to happen! I can’t wait to see you at worship – inside, outside or online!
Keep the faith!
PS- Ashley Lentz will be ordained and installed as a Lutheran pastor at Hope Ankeny this Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3:00 pm, and we are blessed as a church that she has answered God’s call! Please pray for both Ashley and her husband, Tyler, as Ashley begins her service as an ordained pastor.
PPS- Looking for a way to Find Your Community during times of isolation? Sign up today (as a Life Group or form a new group) for Hope’s exciting new five-week all-church group study on the New York Times bestseller, “Everybody Always” by Bob Goff. It all starts Oct. 17.
Important Update from Pastor Mike
Sept. 2, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
A few weeks ago, I wrote in a letter to the church that we tentatively planned to add indoor worship on Rally Weekend, Sept. 12 & 13. Then, in the next sentence, I wrote …
“… if there’s a new spike in percent of positive cases locally, we’ll step back.”
Sadly, and much to my disappointment, there is a new spike. Ames & Iowa City are experiencing one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the country. Polk and Dallas counties aren’t far behind. The White House Coronavirus Task Force just declared Iowa as a “red zone” (more than 100 cases per 100k population), with the highest COVID-19 rate of any state. This same White House Task Force recommends a significant reduction in indoor gatherings while Iowa remains in this “red zone.”
In light of this, we will delay the addition of indoor in-person services at Hope until Oct. 3 & 4, at the earliest.
For those who want Hope to wait longer, preferably until there’s a vaccine and COVID-19 disappears from planet Earth before we offer an indoor worship option (even with distancing, masks and other safety protocols in place), please know … 1) I love you and you will get zero pressure from me, or anyone else at Hope, to attend worship in-person once we start to offer it as an option; 2) We will continue to provide weekly Online Services from Hope for you; 3) We will delay this date again if this spike turns out to be more permanent than temporary; 4) Limiting risk is good, but waiting for zero risk is not an attainable goal in a fallen world. Physical health is vitally important and worth protecting, but so is spiritual, emotional and mental health. We believe God is preparing us for a new season (hopefully starting in October) at Hope where those who are more comfortable with the risk, and will abide by our safety protocols, can worship together again in-person and indoors.
For those, on the other hand, who want Hope to ignore COVID-19 local data, think true Christians should have started indoor services a long time ago, or believe this pandemic is a politically-motivated conspiracy … 1) I love you and I have no doubt that some politically motivated schemers (on the left and on the right) have tried to use this pandemic for political gain (instead of the greater good), but this pandemic is real and when we don’t take it seriously, we become part of the problem. Two people in our church family have died from COVID-19, many others have been infected, and I hear every week from doctors who belong to Hope who tell me about the brutal reality of this pandemic (right here in central Iowa); 2) Would you walk straight into an uncontrolled forest fire to prove your faith? I hope not! It’s not fear or lack of faith that motivates our decisions as a church. It’s wisdom. Pulling biblical text away from context creates false conclusions. I see social media memes about the Bible saying “do not fear” 365 times (it’s actually more than 365) to suggest mask-wearing and social distancing Christians have no faith. But do you know how many times “do not fear” is used in the Bible to make a case for ignoring an outbreak? Zero. In the Old Testament, more than once God commanded his people (Israel) to isolate from one another for a season during an outbreak. And in Matthew 4:7, Jesus clearly commands his followers, “Do not put God to the test.” We’ll wisely and faithfully wait at Hope for the fire to die down before we go in … and even then, we’ll only go in with safety protocols in place.
No matter where we stand, Jesus commands his followers to stand with grace and speak truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) for those with whom we disagree (even our “enemies”). Lately our rhetoric as a weary world has taken a dark turn, amplified by social media. The game now, it seems, is to demean, demonize and dismiss the “other” person rather than respectfully debate the issues. It’s unnecessarily divisive, intellectually lazy and ultimately counterproductive. Keep this in mind, too … criticism almost always says more about the critic than the criticized.
Let’s press on and move forward, Hope, with faith, hope and love. Hopefully we can add in-person indoor worship to outdoor (rapidly growing, but still plenty of room) and online services (also growing in popularity) come Oct 3 & 4. If not, we will continue to find creative ways to be the church together …
+ Hope’s Worship Center is already open for prayer from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday-Friday. Stop by for prayer in God’s house anytime!
+ Hope Worship Parties are popping up online (called “Facebook Watch Parties”), and in the living rooms of those who gather with small groups of friends to worship together on Sunday mornings via HopeOnline.tv. Some of Hope’s local sites are already gathering in small groups for worship.
+ Season 2 of the “Pastor Mike Drop” podcast is coming soon.
+ New creative additions to our online services are in the planning stages (venues and settings, congregational participation, new sermon series, etc.). Stay tuned!
+ In alignment with most local school districts, students in PowerLife (grades 6-8 confirmation) or Ignition (grades 9-12 ministry) can participate in those important ministries either in-person (safety precautions in place) or online, starting Wednesday, Sept. 16. If that timing changes, we’ll let you know.
These are difficult days that call for Christians to keep the faith, remain flexible, and roll with the changes (cue the REO Speedwagon tune!). I wish we could control the calendar, but we can’t. We can, however, do our part to limit the spread of this virus (masks, social distancing, etc.) … and we can pray that God will turn these numbers around and bring healing to our land … starting right here in Iowa (where we just might need it more than anywhere else in the world today).
Grace & Peace,
An Update from Pastor Mike
Aug. 21, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
From time to time, I get asked, “When will Hope open?” I appreciate the question because it almost always comes from a healthy desire to get back into the good weekly habit of in-person indoor worship in familiar holy spaces. I get it and feel the same.
But Hope never closed. We have remained, as always, open for worship on weekends. While outdoor and online services may not be your (or my) preferred setting, tough times call for creative alternatives, and God has used Hope’s online services over the past five months to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to more people than ever!
Still, a lot of us miss worship in those familiar holy spaces. So… “When will Hope return to in-person indoor worship?”
Yesterday, our Church Council unanimously approved a plan to add in-person indoor worship to our current schedule of outdoor and online services starting Rally Weekend, September 12 & 13. This tentative (if there’s a new spike in percent of positive cases locally, we’ll step back) plan is an intermediate step on a “Pathway to the New Normal” (Step 3 on the chart below) between where we are now (Step 2) and where we were pre-COVID and will be again someday (Step 4).
Step 3 in-person indoor worship comes with a number of safety precautions: masks (we’ll give you one if you forget), social distancing, limited capacities per room (reservations will begin September 1), option to stay for congregational singing at the end of services, no meals, no nursery or HopeKids until October, sanitizing of rooms, etc. We also plan to offer hybrid (in-person and online) options for PowerLife (junior high confirmation classes), Ignition (senior high) and REVIVE (young adults) the following week, along with Celebrate Recovery, Alpha, support groups, men’s and women’s ministries.
Wisdom from God (Proverbs 27:12), not fear or finances or politics, drives our decisions. Many times, in the Old Testament, God commanded his people (Israel) to self-isolate during an outbreak. We’re following that biblical model. Since March, our criteria for discerning God’s will for the timing of a return to in-person indoor worship has remained consistent: prayer, meetings with church leaders, consultation with medical professionals and a careful analysis of CDC guidelines and Iowa Department of Health trend lines on the percent of positive cases in Dallas, Polk and Story Counties (corrected by Hope’s Executive Minister Chris Gunnare two months ago, long before it made headlines this week).
We respect the harsh reality of this global pandemic. COVID-19 has killed over 170,000 (2 from our church family) Americans to date … more than the flu, and more than any war Americans have fought other than the Civil War and World War II. This virus is merciless and brutal, unlike anything we’ve seen in our lifetime. Because of that, let me clearly state: if you are high risk, experience any symptoms of COVID-19, or just don’t feel comfortable coming back yet to in-person indoor services for any reason, then I strongly encourage you to stay home and continue to worship with your church family online. No guilt. No hurry. No pressure to show up. I’ll save you a seat for when the time is right for your return!
For others, it’s time to take another step forward. The COVID-19 data in our area is trending down to the point where, using the same criteria we’ve had in place since March, it’s time to make plans to open our church doors for in-person indoor services on September 12 & 13 with safety precautions in place. We realize that a week or two after we start (or even before we start), trend lines could spike, and we’d have to step back. We’re ok with that. Almost everything is tentative these days, and there are no guarantees. But an hour or two of sunshine before another storm would be so refreshing right now, and better than no sun at all!
Thank you, Hope, for your patience and kindness. That’s what love is (1 Corinthians 13:4), and hopefully soon your patience will be rewarded.
PS- This weekend, our sermons – “Morality and Justice Meets Mercy” – will zoom in on an incredible story from Luke 7 that gets straight to the heart of who’s in and who’s out with Jesus … you might be surprised! I’ll preach at the Saturday 7:00 pm Outdoor Service in the church parking lot, as well as the Saturday 5:00 pm Online Service (live from Hope), and the Sunday 8:00, 9:30 & 11:00 am Online Services. Pastor Jeremy will preach at the live Online Sunday 5:00 pm Service, and Pastor Richard will preach at the Traditional Service (available on demand starting Sunday 6:00 am). Come and see!
An Update from Pastor Mike
July 3, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
In my letter to you today, I had hoped to make a big announcement about opening Hope for indoor in-person physically-distanced touch-free mask-wearing weekend services starting July 18 & 19 … but our Open Hope Planning Team wisely decided yesterday to put those plans on hold (paused, not stopped). To put it another way, our green light has turned yellow.
All plans in this season of uncertainty are tentative. For most of the past month, COVID-19 data was trending in favor of reopening the Worship Center (with safety measures in full effect), and we were ready to go! But we’re hitting the pause button on that announcement now due to a clear 7-day trend line increase in COVID-19 per capita cases and percent of positive tests in our area (sources: Iowa Department of Health, Harvard Global Health Institute).
I’m disappointed, and I know many of you are, too. Our patience has been tested. Online Services and Outdoor Services are great, and the Holy Spirit has shown up regardless of where we meet … still our souls long to worship the Lord together in-person inside our familiar Hope sanctuaries (sanctuary literally means “safe place”). To come this close only to see the light turn yellow a few days before our big announcement is, as the cool kids say, a major bummer.
Then again, patient endurance is something God can use to strengthen us (Romans 5:3-5), so let’s keep the faith and let’s hold on to the hope that either this light will somehow go green again before July 18 & 19, or soon after.
Our Open Hope Planning Team (14 church staff representing multiple campuses) will continue to prayerfully and carefully consider the COVID-19 trends, adhere to CDC guidelines, and consult with church leaders and doctors. We care about both your physical safety and spiritual health, and we’ll continue to communicate with you openly and frequently … stay tuned!
Let’s pray, church, for the healing of our world from COVID-19. Let’s do our part through social distancing and wearing masks in public. And let’s hope we can start worshiping together in our Worship Center soon! Holy smokes, when that finally does happen, it’s going to be awesome!
Keep the faith!
P.S.- No matter where we meet for worship, there’s still plenty to get excited about! This weekend, Hope will celebrate the 4th of July holiday with online services Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:30, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm, or a socially distanced in-person Saturday 5:00 pm Outdoor Service in our church parking lot (lawn chairs or drive-in). We’ve had a ton of fun with these in-person outdoor services, so we’ll keep this option going until we can move inside. No need to pre-register for outdoor worship – turns out our parking lot is bigger than it looks, and there’s plenty of room for everyone! Pastor Nick or Pastor Ben will open a new sermon series called Surprise! #NewRules, focusing on the revolutionary kinds of surprises Jesus consistently brings. If you think Jesus is boring or predictable, you’re going to be … well, surprised!
PPS- Camp Hope VBS is coming soon! Thousands of kids from Iowa, and all over the world, are already registered to “get s’more of Jesus” at Camp Hope from July 13-17 … and since VBS is all online this year, there’s unlimited room for more! Invite your friends, kids, grandkids, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and neighbors to join us online. There’s still time to get your optional VBS Kit (for just $10!) that includes a Camp Hope T-shirt, craft materials and other fun surprises to help enhance your at-home VBS experience. Since we can’t bring thousands of kids together for VBS this summer, we’ll bring VBS to you, wherever you might be!
An Update from Pastor Mike
May 22, 2020
Good morning, Hope!
For the sake of keeping things fresh, and offering a COVID-19 update at the same time, I’ll write this week’s letter as an FAQ (frequently asked questions) …
Q: Is it true that Hope has no plans to reopen for in-person worship?
A: It’s not true. We have detailed plans put together by a superstar team that’s been meeting weekly via Zoom for a couple months with one goal – safely reopen Hope for in-person worship. We review data, weigh risks and prayerfully ponder lots of possibilities.
Q: My grandma’s church just restarted in-person worship. My other grandma’s church set a date (July 1, September 1, May 17, Christmas, next summer …) … what is Hope’s date?
A: God bless your grandmas and their churches! Every church is unique. Most local churches, including us, hope to re-start in-person worship again soon. A few local churches already have for a variety of reasons, according to their pastors: technical issues with online worship, financial concerns, impatience, or deciding the risk is worth it. At Hope, we’ll open our doors for worship again when it’s legal, wise and safe. We’re getting closer. 7-day trends of COVID-19 new cases and percent of positive tests in our area are starting to decline. If current trends continue, we’ll announce a tentative date soon. Stay tuned!
Q: What are Hope’s criteria for re-starting in-person worship?
A: In response to a lot of prayer, God has given us peace and confidence to follow published CDC phased reopening guidelines, one wise and faithful step at a time. Dallas & Polk Counties are currently in Phase 1 (maximum gatherings of 10), and our planning team monitors the data daily. The physical safety of our church family matters, as does this community we love and serve. We aren’t going to put people at risk for selfish reasons.
Q: Isn’t worship essential? Haven’t you preached for 25+ years that we need to worship?
A: Yes, it is. Yes, I have. And Hope has been worshiping (and will continue to worship) every week via HopeOnline.tv throughout this abnormal season of uncertainty. Online worship may not be the same as an in-person experience, but the Holy Spirit doesn’t need a particular worship venue or setting to fill our hearts with God’s essential love. Let’s not be spiritually superficial. As God would have it, our theme (set last year) for this weekend’s sermon is “Getting to the Heart of the Matter” – a sermon on the biblical definition of worship (John 4). I can’t wait to preach (Saturday night, Sunday morning) on this timely topic, and I’m sure Pastor Andy (Sunday night) feels the same. Open your heart and let God deepen your understanding of what “worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23) actually is … and is not.
Q: What will in-person worship look like at Hope when we start again?
A: This is where Hope’s plans get creative and fun!
First, we’ll continue to pour our best into the weekly online services, so if you are feeling sick, have a high-risk health condition, or you just prefer to stay home for a while longer, then we’ll keep bringing worship to you.
After we reach CDC Phase 3 regionally (social distancing, but no cap on gathering numbers), hopefully sometime this summer, we’ll take full advantage of the good weather by offering an in-person outdoor Saturday 5:00 pm service in the parking lot. I’ll preach, and the band will sing, on the grass island in front of our main entrance. Socially distanced seating areas (formerly parking stalls) will be numbered and reserved in advance (for you, or you and family members). Every seat will be sanitized, masks will be required (we’ll provide extras if you forget), and access to bathrooms inside will be limited in numbers for your safety.
Behind the seating area in the parking lot, we’ll have room for a “drive-in worship” option (praise Jesus in your car!). If it rains, we’ll all park our cars in the reserved seating area (the service will go on, rain or shine!). If reservation requests for one Saturday 5:00 pm service exceed available space, we’ll add another service (or more) to make room (safely) for all who want to attend.
If the outdoor service works, we’ll do it again the following weekend, and through the summer, until we can safely move our in-person services inside (socially distanced in our Worship Center, Chapel, Bridge, Gym, etc.). If there’s a need, we’ll add Hope is Here neighborhood worship gatherings, too.
We’ll keep doing that, along with online worship, until social distancing recommendations are lifted. Then, Lord willing, we’ll have a full house all-church family worship reunion as God leads us into the promised land of a new (even better than the old) normal! Hopefully soon …
Keep the faith!
PS- Vacation Bible School registration opened last weekend, and the enthusiasm for this year’s session is off the charts! Thousands of kids are already signed up for Camp Hope – an exciting online neighborhood/home-based version of VBS from July 13 -17! Rumor has it that there might also be a Camp Hope for teens and adults this summer – we’re not going to let a virus keep you, or your kids, from all the fun of getting to know Jesus better!
PPS- We’re getting closer to reaching our goal of making and distributing 10,000 masks to our mission partners throughout central Iowa! Thank you, Hope! You can still drop off or pick up material to make masks at the main entrance of our church building.
An Update from Pastor Mike
April 29, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
I want to update you on Lutheran Church of Hope’s plans and criteria for adding in-person worship gatherings to our live online services and daily ministry videos (HopeOnline.tv and Hope's Channel on YouTube).
The short update is … hopefully soon, but not yet. When it becomes legal, wise and safe (not just legal) for Hope to gather for in-person worship again, we will joyfully do so. Until then, we will continue to gather online instead.
In more detail (and the details get exciting if you read to the end), here’s a longer update …
Earlier this week, Governor Kim Reynolds announced that some retail businesses (restaurants, malls, etc.) can reopen in 77 of 99 Iowa counties (not including Dallas or Polk) with social distancing. Governor Reynolds also lifted legal restrictions on religious gatherings in all 99 counties (in recognition of constitutional liberties afforded to religious organizations), leaving it up to individual churches to decide for ourselves.
I respect and appreciate the heavy burdens elected leaders carry as they make important and complex decisions that affect many people. They are in my prayers. I also understand the concern for getting the economy going. Jobs, income and providing for family needs matter, but so does making sacrifices together to minimize the risk of spreading a highly contagious and deadly virus in our church or community.
Currently in the Des Moines area (and most other locations where Hope has a campus or local site), COVID-19 cases and death rates are still on the rise. As long as that’s the case, worship gatherings of more than 10 people might be legal, but also unwise and unsafe.
We don’t want to rush back too soon and put our church family, or the community we love and serve, at risk. Instead, at Hope we’ll continue to pray for healing and discernment, consult with doctors and keep a close watch on virus trends.
At the same time, we don’t want to wait too long to get back together again as a church family for in-person worship. Hopefully we can do that soon … but even when we do, social distancing will almost certainly remain in effect. CDC guidelines call for a gradual increase in gatherings, from 10 to 50 to 100 people on up, one “phase” at a time.
Challenging times call for creative solutions … and that’s why we’re planning to launch “Hope Is Here” worship gatherings in our current church buildings and beyond soon! Recently, we measured 6-foot gaps in every large room (Worship Center, Chapel, Bridge, Gym, etc.) at every Hope campus to determine the maximum socially distanced capacity. When it’s time to gather for in-person worship again, we’ll start with multiple services in multiple rooms at multiple times each weekend in groups that align with CDC guidelines (50, 100, etc.). We’ll take reservations for worship to ensure we don’t go over capacity, and we’ll keep adding more in-person service options at various times as long as there’s demand, even if it means extending Hope beyond our church buildings …
You can help! If you have access to a potential “Hope Is Here” worship gathering space – community room, office space, storefront, etc. (following the lead of Hope’s current local sites) – that might hold 25-100+ socially distanced people, please email Hospitality Director email@example.com or call her at church (515-222-1520). Hope, because it comes from the Lord, always finds a way!
Imagine how fun and refreshing it will be to connect (six feet apart for now!) with new friends in your church family as you meet for weekly “Hope Is Here” worship gatherings! Imagine these “Hope is Here” worship gatherings sprinkled all over central Iowa, in our church buildings and beyond!
Finally, imagine how good it will feel to endure this season of uncertainty and find our way to the “new normal” (way better than the “old normal,” because we will be stronger in faith, hope and love) – wide open church doors with every seat in every Hope building filled on a Sunday morning, praising God with songs and shouts and maybe a few tears of joy … yep, it’s going to be holy!
Until then, I’ll see you online and (coming soon) at a “Hope Is Here” gathering …
Keep the faith!
Pastor Mike Housholder
PS- For more on Hope’s future plans, check out this week’s Pastor Mike Drop podcast episode #2019, “Reopening Churches,” below … or tune in on YouTube, Apple Podcasts or Spotify.
Pastor Mike Drop
April 28, 2020
An Update from Pastor Mike
April 17, 2020
Dear Hope Family,
He is still risen! Thank God! The resurrection of Jesus produces hope in our hearts, and I can’t think of anything our world needs more right now than hope.
In this COVID-19 season of uncertainty, we’re seeing a huge increase in the number of people seeking hope from God. Last year, 30,000+ people worshiped with Hope on Easter Weekend. This Easter, just a few days ago, 100,000+ people worshiped with Hope online and on WHO-TV … plus many more will watch the service on demand at HopeOnline.tv. Turns out Jesus’ TV ratings, for the best possible reasons, are off the charts! He is risen, and deep in our hearts—even the most skeptical hearts—we need that hope-filled good news. So, we will continue to be the church and proclaim it. We will pray. We will help. We will love.
Worship this weekend—Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:15, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm—will focus on the Great Commission our risen Lord gave his church. We feel the urgency of that call. A few months ago, God gave Hope a clear new vision to, among other things, broadcast the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ to 10 million people over the next 10 years. Who knew it would start to come so quickly during these difficult days?
In addition to weekly worship, we’ll keep posting online daily devotions and videos: Pastor Mike Drop, 90 Seconds of Hope, Hope Live, Friday Chats with a Pastor at noon and weekend post-worship Prayer Rooms—have become consistent sources of spiritual renewal for many.
We’ve also created YouTube Channels and playlists for targeted groups: REVIVE for young adults, Kairos for college students, Ignition for grades 9-12, PowerLife for grades 6-8, HopeKids, Page 2 Bible Study, along with ways to engage with Celebrate Recovery, Traditional Worship and services with American Sign Language and Spanish translations.
Beyond digital outreach, we’re also reaching out in more traditional ways. Even though the primary focus of our Lenten Outreach shifted due to the onset of a global pandemic, still you generously continued to send in offerings to build 92 new churches in western Africa! Amazing!
Meanwhile, care calls to every household in our church family continue. If you need help, please don’t wait for your phone to ring. Call the church at 515-222-1520. We’re at your service to listen, pray and help as we are able.
Our God Squad from Hope is partnering with local missions. And this weekend, we’re increasing our efforts to make masks for our community. Some already have masks or can make their own, but many can’t. We can help. This weekend, we’ll post simple how-to-make-a-mask videos on Hope’s Facebook Page. Then, after you (and your kids!) make the masks, please drop them off outside the main entrance of HOPE, and our God Squad will distribute them—let’s deliver thousands—to neighbors in need.
The darkness is real, but so is the light! He is risen! There Ain’t No Grave that can hold Jesus down, and there’s no virus that can keep Jesus’ church down! Keep the faith!
PS: Our online Alpha Course kicks off this Tuesday night and is a great option for anyone wanting to grow further in their faith. I invite you to check it out!
A Financial Giving Update from Hope
April 6, 2020
We find ourselves in an unprecedented time. Our world has been turned upside down, impacting things both big and small. But, even amidst all of the changes happening all around us, an amazing opportunity has been presented to us to be the church, reach people in new ways, and live out our mission of reaching out to the world around us and sharing the everlasting love of Jesus Christ. God is bigger than any pandemic, and continues to show up in big ways through Hope:
- We may be practicing social distancing… but we’re definitely not practicing spiritual distancing! Hope’s staff has been hard at work providing daily opportunities for people to connect, grow, pray and worship. You can search through these online, or follow along on our social media pages.
- Worship has moved to completely online … and we’re seeing record numbers! Our weekend services are seeing higher attendance than ever before, which means we’re reaching more people than ever before … and that has an eternal impact!
- Our missions, prayer and care teams have been connecting with people in need virtually, and working with our mission partners to provide essential services for our community. Hope’s God Squad Team (a team we email weekly with local service opportunities) has more than doubled in numbers these past two weeks, proving once again, what an amazing group of individuals that make up our church family!
God is good! And, it continues to be good to be the church, Hope!
We do also want to provide an update on financial gifts to the church. While 50% of our church family currently give their offerings online, that also means 50% of people historically give in person through weekly offering baskets, which aren’t currently available. If this is you and your family, please know we have a number of options available for you to help us in continuing to support the mission of Hope:
- Give Online
Here is a step-by-step video tutorial of how to set up your online giving. It’s quick and easy, and provides the opportunity for one-time or recurring gifts. You can also call 515-222-1520 and a member of our Finance Team would be happy to walk you through this.
- Download Hope’s App
Giving can also be done quickly via Hope’s free app, which can be downloaded in your phone’s app store.
- Via Mail
Checks can also be mailed to the church office: Lutheran Church of Hope – Finance, 925 Jordan Creek Pkwy, West Des Moines, IA 50266
Currently the West Des Moines church office is open Monday – Friday, 9:00 am – 4:30 pm (you can visit other campus pages for other office hours). Please know that based on recommendations by state leaders, these hours are subject to change. (For the safety of our church family, we ask that if you are currently experiencing any cold-or-flu-like symptoms, please refrain from dropping off your gifts in person at this time.)
Thank you so much, Hope, for your continued support! It is a tremendous blessing to be a part of this church family, and I can’t wait to see what God is going to do in the days, weeks, and months ahead through Hope! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to give me a call: 515-222-1520.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. And, be blessed. We continue to be praying for you!
An Update from Hope
April 4, 2020
We’ve heard so many great stories of our God Squad stepping up to answer the many requests we are getting from the community. With that in mind, if you have any photos from any of the work you’ve done as part of the God Squad, please submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you!
With some new timelines extended, the need is becoming greater.
Here are the latest requests:
- HOPE MINISTRIES BETHEL MISSION – They are looking for volunteers in 2 areas.
1. Their Café is in need of sack lunches to serve the clients in their community through end of April. Please assemble each lunch in individual paper lunch sacks. Lunches should try and include: peanut butter/jelly sandwich in sandwich bag, cookie or dessert in sandwich bag, fresh fruit, small bag of chips, bottle of water. Contact Leslie Green for delivery hours at email@example.com.
2. "Pod pockets!" - Pod pockets are made with single detergent pods wrapped in single dryer sheets then twist-tied with a positive note of encouragement for their clients. It’s something simple that residents can take with them and throw in with their laundry.
Drop off for both is at Bethel Mission, 1310 6th Ave., Des Moines. Call Terri or Leslie at 515-265-7272, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- MASK MAKING – As you’ve probably seen from the news reports, the federal government is likely going to be recommending that people begin wearing face masks in public. In addition, there is an ever-increasing need for masks at nursing homes/senior citizen centers. The clear message in all of this is that we are going to have a heavy demand for masks, especially for the more vulnerable. With that in mind we are putting out the plea to our God Squad to begin making these non-surgical masks so we can distribute in the near future. This video will give you a simplistic approach to making the mask, but certainly not the only approach. When you have completed making your batch, please drop them off at the following campuses Hope WDM, Hope Grimes, Hope Ankeny. DROP OFF ONLY, no distribution at this time.
- FOOD PACKAGING/DISTRIBUTION - Lutheran Church of Hope Grimes (along with a handful of other Grimes churches) will be one of five Des Moines area locations where food will be packaged, distributed, and delivered to homes. Food Bank of Iowa will deliver the food initially to Hope Grimes, while volunteers will package, distribute, and then distribute the food where needed. Volunteers will observe social distancing and be in teams of 10 people or less.
Use this link to sign up, package, distribute the food, and other helpful information.
- BIDWELL RIVERSIDE – Our local mission partner assisting low income families has seen a greater increase in demands with their pantry. They are in need of food, plastic grocery bags, toiletries, diapers (size 5/6), and feminine hygiene products. You can simply put the bags in your trunk or the back of your SUV and Bidwell workers will have someone in the parking lot directing cars. They can talk to you through your closed window, you pop the trunk, and they grab the items. Also, something easy to do at home is to make no-sew T-shirt tote bags out of your old T-shirts. Here is a link for this simple project.
DROP OFF LOCATION is 1203 Hartford Ave, Des Moines. If you have questions, the contact is Missy Reams at 515-244-6251, Ext. 5, or email@example.com.
- IMANI FAMILY CHURCH - organized in 2007 as an outreach to the refugee community from East and Central Africa, and a missions partner of Hope’s, has these urgent needs for members of its congregation: toilet paper, jasmine rice, beans, diapers (size 2 & 5), beans, cereal, paper products, laundry soap, dish soap, cooking oil, corn flour, rubbing alcohol, sanitizer, produce, fruit.
DROP OFF will be at Imani Church, 815 8th Street in WDM. Contact is Pastor Joshua Kyunde at Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 515-779-1428.
- Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) – has a couple of requests for volunteers.
1. Volunteers to distribute food at mobile food pantry sites. Check out the available options and more info here.
2. Volunteers to assist with packaging food bags at the downtown warehouse. For more info and to sign up, click here.
3. Volunteers to take the calls and gather the necessary information for orders and/or volunteers who can pick up and deliver. All CDC safety measures will be taken into consideration. Call Shoshana Salowitz 515-277-6969 Ext. 18, or email email@example.com.
- DES MOINES PUBLIC SCHOOLS - is in need of several pop-up tents to provide cover for volunteers as they hand out food to students. These tents will be placed on concrete in orde to help shelter the food distributors on rainy days. If you are able to donate one, please reach out directly to Vanessa Howell with DMPS at 614-390-9565 to make arrangements for drop off.
- FOOD BANK OF IOWA – continues to look for volunteers to both assemble emergency food packages AND volunteers to sanitize/clean the facility before and after volunteers have come and gone. Groups are limited to 10 for food assembly. Food assembly times are Monday-Friday from either 9:00-11:30 am or 1:30-4:00 pm. Sign up to volunteer with the food assembly here. To help clean/sanitize the facility prior to and after volunteers leave shifts: email Michaela Devaney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Report to Food Bank of Iowa at 2220 E. 17th Street, Des Moines. Phone is 515-564-0330.
- YMCA – Still accepting a basket of items that would assist residents who are confined to their apartments during this self-isolation or quarantined period. Items they are looking for include: canned fruit, canned veggies, canned meat, instant oatmeal, microwave dinners, peanut butter, bread, produce, snacks, pasta & sauce, water, trash bags, hand soap, toilet paper, puzzles, adult coloring books, Search Words, Sudoku, crossword books. Food would be delivered to 2 SW 9th Street location. Their employees would take from your vehicles. Contact info: Sarah Wigen at 515.288.2424 or email@example.com.
If you are hearing of anyone needing groceries delivered, please notify firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteers that could be mobilized.
Thanks everyone! You are making a difference!
An Update from Hope
March 17, 2020, 6:00 pm
To reduce the potential spread of the coronavirus through social distancing, Lutheran Church of Hope has cancelled all in-person gatherings of 10 or more people in any of our church buildings until further notice. During this time, Hope will move all services and ministries online …
- Worship with us LIVE every weekend!
Download the Hope app on your smartphone, Roku or Apple TV box
- Connect with God and one another & find resources for all ages, from kids to adults!
For more on what we’re doing together at Hope for you, our church family, and for this community we love and serve during this season of concern, please tune in to today’s episode of the Pastor Mike Drop podcast below – “Life in Uncertain Times”...
Keep the faith, Hope! God’s got this! And God’s got you! #pray #help #love
March 13, 2020, 9:00 pm
Dear Hope Family,
I’m sending this update tonight to inform you, with a heavy heart, that for the first time in the 25+ year history of Lutheran Church of Hope, we will suspend all public gatherings for worship this weekend – all services at all Hope locations.
The good news is we will still have worship this weekend. Hope has a long history of broadcasting LIVE weekly services online. Instead of showing up in person, please join us at HopeOnline.tv on Saturday at 5:00 pm, Sunday at 8:00, 9:15, 11:00 am or 5:00 pm. The Traditional 8:30 am Service will also be recorded and posted by 7:00 pm Sunday evening. Our sermon theme this weekend is “How to Pray,” and given the current level of angst in our world, I can’t imagine a more appropriate subject to preach on. We turn to God in prayer because nothing less will do.
Please know we, the leaders of Hope, have not made this decision apart from an abundance of prayerful pondering, long conversations with numerous doctors, community leaders, the Iowa Department of Public Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), megachurch leaders throughout the USA and neighboring church leaders in Iowa. We have felt the full burden of our responsibility – as the largest church in Iowa – to the thousands of people who gather in person to worship the Lord at Hope every week, and to all the local churches we are blessed to know as friends.
Yesterday (Thursday), I wrote a letter to our church family, and updated it this morning, encouraging everyone to worship with Hope online.
Since then, however, several governors of Midwestern states, mayors of nearby cities, as well as several prominent medical professionals, have asked large churches like Hope to cancel public worship services and offer an online only worship option.
Ultimately, we could not get past the very real and sobering possibility that by holding public services at Hope this weekend, our life-giving church could be a setting for the spread of the life-taking coronavirus for the people we serve and love.
Some of you are already familiar with online worship at Hope. For others, this will be your first experience. It’s easy to find us. On your personal computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone, go to HopeOnline.tv. You can also catch our services throughout the weekend on Facebook Live. Or you can download the Hope app on your smartphone (Apple or Android), Apple TV or Roku.
Please note we will take this week-by-week, and we will keep you posted. We will also provide updates early next week regarding the status of our schedule of events for smaller groups at Hope, as well as new digital resources we will produce and provide for you, your families, and your groups during this time. No matter what happens, we will be here for you as a church. When it’s not possible for you to get to church, we’ll bring the church to you.
My heart breaks for those who are sick, and those who are scared. The coronavirus is a global pandemic unlike anything our world has seen for generations. As a result, there’s no small amount of concern. This current darkness is real. But so is the light! Let’s not forget that we worship a God who is a healer, a life-giver and a champion over all enemies. And this God will see us through.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
- Psalm 103:2-4
Keep praying. Keep helping. Keep loving. And keep the faith. See you at HopeOnline.tv this weekend! Invite your friends!
Peace be with you,
Mike Housholder, Senior Pastor
Lutheran Church of Hope
A letter to Hope from Pastor Mike …
Updated: March 13, 2020, 7:15 am
Dear Hope Family,
Life will be different for a while due to the coronavirus. This is unfamiliar territory and the news reads like bad fiction. Major sporting events vanish, airlines cut flights, travelers cancel vacations, the World Health Organization declares a pandemic, celebrities test positive, daily routines change and colleges close.
FAITH & FEAR
With rising levels of anxiety, it’s important to remember the God we put our faith in is bigger than our fears, and bigger than any virus. Hold on and keep the faith! We are not alone. As we seek a path without a map, we still have each other, and we have a God who promises to remain with us no matter what …
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. - Isaiah 41:10
THIS WEEKEND’S SERVICES
The same God who sees us through challenging times also commands us to love our neighbors. Out of love for your church family, I encourage you to stay home and worship with us via HopeOnline.tv if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms, a compromised immune system, or any concerns about being around groups of people right now. Starting this weekend, we will broadcast every service from the Worship Center LIVE – Saturday 5:00 pm, Sunday 8:00, 9:15, 11:00 am & 5:00 pm. The Sunday 8:30 am Traditional Service in the Chapel will also be taped and available on demand by Sunday at 7:00 pm.
At this time, the CDC & Iowa Department of Public Health has issued “no recommendation to cancel mass gatherings.” If that changes, we will of course adjust our plans. For now, then, if you feel well with no symptoms, you’re welcome to join us in person at any service. We implemented a number of temporary safety measures last weekend, and will add more this weekend … …
Our Facilities Team has a well-deserved reputation for keeping our church buildings sparkling clean. Until this season of concern passes, they’ll focus even more time and attention on repeatedly wiping down and sanitizing all touchpoints, and deep cleaning every room at Hope.
We will continue to implement our creative greeting alternatives – a wave, a smile, a nod, a thumbs up, a point – rather than a handshake or hug. We love you, but for your safety and ours, we’re discouraging any kind of touch greetings until virus fears subside.
Greeters will now serve a dual role as the friendly folks who warmly wave and welcome all to worship, along with serving as door openers (so you don’t have to touch handles on your way in).
HOPEKIDS & STUDENTS
This weekend was scheduled as a “Family Worship” weekend several months ago, so we will not offer HopeKids (our version of Sunday school) this Saturday night, Sunday morning or Sunday evening. We encourage children to worship together with their family, and we will include a children’s sermon at all services in the Worship Center this weekend.
We will not pass offering plates during worship until further notice. To give your regular offering to support the ongoing mission of Hope this weekend, please do so online (it’s simple to do) … or, if you are at worship in person, please drop your offering in the designated bins at the entrance/exit of the Worship Center and Chapel.
The Lord’s Supper is offered weekly at our earliest Sunday Services – 8:00am in the Worship Center & 8:30am in the Chapel. Creative challenges call for creative solutions, so this weekend, we will distribute sealed pre-packaged Holy Communion packets with volunteers wearing sanitary gloves.
As much as we enjoy our weekend meals together as a church family, out of an abundance of caution and love for you and all who attend worship at Hope, we will discontinue all pre-service and post-service meals at Hope for the time being.
ACCESS TO ONLINE WORSHIP
For those who are new to online worship with Hope, set up is a snap and it’s free. Go to www.HopeOnline.tv and click the large rectangular box near the top left of the screen – that’s it, you’re in! As noted above, all our services starting this weekend will be LIVE. To view our services on your TV at home so the whole family can worship together, just connect your mobile device to your TV.
If you’re feeling strong and healthy, have no symptoms of a cold or flu, and want to help people in need during this pandemic, please sign up for Hope’s “God Squad” by filling out this form or calling the church office at 515-222-1520. If a need arises that we can meet, we will contact you. Thanks in advance for your support!
WE’LL BRING CHURCH TO YOU
If you can’t make it to church, we’ll bring church to you during this season of uncertainty.
Last Sunday, I preached on How to Work Through Our Worldly Worries in light of the coronavirus. On Wednesday, Caroline Boehnke-Becker, an ordained pastor and medical doctor, joined Emily Langpaul and me on the Pastor Mike Drop podcast for a helpful conversation about Faith & the Coronavirus. This weekend, whether you attend in person or worship with Hope online, you’ll hear a sermon by me or one of our other pastors on How to Pray.
Given the circumstances, I think the timing of a sermon on prayer as part of a Lenten series called "Right-Side Up" is just what we need. In unfamiliar times, it’s easy to feel lost and scared. But we’re in this together as a church family and more importantly, our God is with us!
Wash your hands. Be wise. But most of all, be the church! Keep praying. Keep helping. Keep loving. God’s got this, and God’s got us!
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
- 2 Timothy 1:7
PS- Please keep checking the Hope website and “like” my public Facebook Page for regular updates and communications regarding any schedule changes or announcements. And please keep praying for God to heal our world. Thanks, Hope!