I LOVE my church!!!
I know a lot of people feel that way (if you don't, you need a new one), and perhaps I'm a bit biased, but I truly believe Hopewell is one of the BEST around. Definitely one of the best churches I've ever been to. Personally, I am not big on denomenations. I am a CHRIST follower....but, I chose to attend a Baptist church because it most closely relates to my interpretation of the Bible. I feel that after salvation (admitting you're a sinner and repenting from those sins, believing Jesus is the son of God; died for our sins and rose three days later, and ask the Lord to come into your heart to be your personal savior), the Holy Spirit within you gives you a discerning spirit to help you understand Biblical truths. My discerning spirit has shown me that the Baptist religion aligns most closely with what I believe to be truths in the Word of God. It's important not to take anything from or add to the Bible, and in fact, taking scripture out of context is one of Satan's biggest tools to lead us astray. This is why many people claim the Bible contradicts itself, which is ludacrous. The prophecies of the Old Testament all are proven true in the New Testament, which was written nearly 400 years later. How do you honestly think over 40 men can write the books of the Bible over a period of 1600 years and it all line up? God...duh!! The New Testament documents are better preserved and more numerous than any other ancient writings (Aristotle, Plato, etc.). They can be cross checked for accuracy from the different translations and are very concistent.
I joined Hopewell Baptist Church about 2 years ago and immediately took the role as a middle school girls Sunday school teacher. It was really cool how it worked out actually...I was in my office at school doing my Experiencing God Bible study, and the Lord really convicted my heart about becoming part of the church family and using my spiritual gifts to serve. I walked into lunch about 30 min after the study, and Brian (youth pastor at Hopewell) told me he needed a middle school girls SS teacher because one of his just resigned. Open door, and there I was. I had been attending regularly, so I joined the following week and started teaching immediately.
I have learned more in the past two years at Hopewell than I have in my entire 17 years of being a believer. I have grown SO much spiritually and feel really solid in my walk. There are so many people that claim to be Christians but don't live it AT ALL...and although I'm not even close, I certainly strive to be as Christlike as possible, as I feel most of the other members of Hopewell do. I wish I could have attended there a LONG time ago so I wouldn't have wasted so much time and have so many inconsistent years in my walk, but I know God's plan is greater. He will use my testimony regardless.
Our church has so many wonderful minisitries. I am particularly thankful for the women's ministry, as the women's SS class, Bible studies, and retreats are always encouraging, uplifting, and refreshing. I LOVE digging in God's Word and understanding the Bible. For most of my life I have been taught to "just believe because it's right and it's what I'm supposed to do." I really appreciate now learning WHY we believe what we believe, how to back up the Word of God with FACTS, and how to defend my beliefs. I know many non-believers, other religions, and other denominations have seemingly legit arguments about the Bible & Christianity, and I FINALLY understand WHY I believe what I believe. No, science does not prove anything....in fact, it's actually the other way around.
Jon and I both serve in our awesome youth ministry as well. It has been so neat to watch all of these young people grow in the Lord, and their boldness for sharing the Gospel is truly inspiring.
Jonathan got baptized in January of last year, and I feel like that is one God REALLY point an anointing on His life and he became a true man of God and the spiritual leader of our home. He has had so many Godly men at Hopewell reach out and encourage him and teach him how the be a man of God. Christian fellowship is SO important, and that is one thing our church has down. Everyone is SUPER friendly, and it is genuine. Hopewellians just love people. They are not judgemental, and do NOT care about anyone's past, how ya dress, etc. All they care about is your personal relationship with Christ and your eternity.
I know many people like churches are filled with hypocrites, and unfortunately this is a sad truth. I don't feel like Hopewell is like that. No one claims to be perfect or expects anyone else to be. Everyone just loves God and is trying their best to live a life that reflects that. Everyone is encouraged to serve and become active in a Sunday school class, as that is where you learn the "teaching" of the Bible. Preaching is different...and I certainly love our preacher and his wife. He is SO friendly, knows everyones name, and isn't scared to give you a big ole hug. BUT, he also makes it clear that he has high expectations of us. He preaches the Word of God in the pulpit, and his messages are a good balance of conviction/encouraging. I don't personally like "hell/fire/damnation" preachers, though sometimes it is necesary; yet I also think the "feel good" messages aren't enough either. Robby knows what he's doing.....he knows the Bible.....and he LOVES his church & people.
Our worship ROCKS!! We have the BEST choir ever, and the music ALWAYS touches my heart.
I also love that our baptism waters are moving every Sunday, people get saved, and we ALWAYS have teams going on mission trips to share the Gospel. People really LIVE it.... And I love that. I know many people don't like church becuase they think the members are too judgemental or hypocritical, but Hopewell is different. Everyone makes mistakes. However, it is important to also teach Biblical truths. Satan is like a roaring lion, ready to attack, and so prevalent in today's society. It is important to guard your heart, mind, soul, and faith by being rooted in the Word of God.
Another thing I think is unique about our church is that we have a Sunday night service that is truly powerful. Jon and I are at church from 8:30-12:30 on Sunday mornings (we go to a SS class to be fed, teach a SS class to serve, then go to worship), every Wed night in youth, and every Sunday night. I am not saying that to brag on us, I am saying that because I am thankful our church has so many opportunities for us to be involved, learn, and grow. The Bible tells us that we are not to give up meeting together, and I just honestly don't buy the whole "I don't need church..."
I am SO thankful that God placed Jon & I at HBC with such wonderful, Godly people....