I was ready to be wheeled into the cold surgery room when I was asked to sign a permission form that allowed medical students to observe my state-of-the-art heart procedure. I gladly penned my signature, and seven hours later, I was in the recovery room. A few days later, as I recovered in a nearby hotel, I reflected and thought, if these medical students and future surgeons needed both classroom settings and surgery rooms to prepare, how much more do our future church leaders! If our Bible college students are preparing to work on people’s souls, marriages, families, hurts, and much more, they should be in a “lab church” where they could observe and assist veterans! That was the beginning of a vision for a “Lab Church” where our young leaders would learn and prepare for ministry.
In late February 2020, it began with a small group of forty interested people who might want to be part of a pioneer work, and the dream began to unfold. Less than one month later, Covid lockdowns shut the world down and what initially seemed like a delay became a divine beginning. The year 2020 would mark the “fullness of time” for the ten year vision of a lab church to come to fruition: where students would gain experience in leadership, preaching, worship leading, online ministry, youth, broadcast, children’s ministry, administration, technology, social media, writing, graphics, sound reinforcement, lighting, video, still photography, music, and drama … virtually everything that has to do with communicating the Gospel creatively while remaining faithful to the Scriptures.
Through the first year, God helped us build a leadership base while communicating the Gospel through online services broadcast worldwide. Then, on Easter morning of 2021, we opened our doors to the public, primarily through word-of-mouth invitations. We filled two services, and New Hope West was born. A year later, we have expanded to three services, and God continues to draw hearts to Himself. Our future is full of vision with plans to start new venues or campuses with our graduates leading. In addition, we launched a new Master’s cohort where fourteen leaders are preparing for ministry through our graduate program.
Through this “Lab Church,” NHCC students are experiencing both academic excellence and hands-on ministry leadership day in and day out. In faith and alongside seasoned veterans, they are serving, leading, building teams, learning to resolve conflict, organizing for growth, and most importantly, learning to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. We stand in awe of what God continues to do in and through men and women of faith who will say “YES” to follow Jesus and be a part of a God-sized dream to take the Gospel to the world.
Written by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro