Our church fellowship began on January 6, 2011, meeting on Sunday morning at a community room of a Ryan’s Restaurant on Rangeline Road near I-10 in Tillman’s Corner, Alabama. The manager allowed us to use the room at no cost if we ordered their buffet breakfast, which we did and enjoyed, but after several weeks we all seemed to have gotten our fill of that buffet.
We moved our meetings to my house in West Mobile, Alabama and after one year we leased a retail office space on Schillinger Road South. In 2016 we moved to our current location at Lifeline Court near the intersection of Airport Boulevard and Snow Road, where we are enjoying a little more room for fellowship.
Simpler Church Alternative
While I was working at Providence Hospital as a hospital chaplain, I was taken back by a high number of patients who could express and articulate their personal belief in Jesus Christ and convictions in biblical doctrines, yet who also had no involvement and fellowship in any church congregation.
Many of these same individuals also shared stories with me of their experiences with area churches that told similar accounts of not being able to connect with the members or of finding the traditional church format unauthentic, mainly citing the pulpit to pew lecture dissemination as an impediment to connecting with the message, while nearly all had praises for either a past small group or Sunday school class experience.
After hearing these accounts over and over, year after year, I began to be burdened by a mission to reach these individuals and others who aren’t being served by the traditional church formats.
Admittedly, I could empathize with these people because when I was sitting in the pews of an otherwise great church ministry, it was hard for me to feel connected through the program. Despite a godly biblical pastor, beautiful church choir, and friendly people – there was still a disconnect. It seemed to me that modern church services had the similar problem as modern classrooms in that not everyone learns through the exact same method.
A Simpler Way
It was during this time that I learned about a fellow Southern Baptist minister who was on a North American Mission Board missionary team and successfully reaching unchurched people in Arizona through small group gatherings that he called “tactical churches.” He came to similar conclusions that I did and he was serving as a pastor of small group gatherings that served as the attenders only weekly primary spiritual worship experience.
As a minister I am affiliated with Southern Baptist but my background was with the Adventist in denominational church planting through the traditional route of a sending model that seeks launching big, growing big, and relying on staying big.
However, after some research, prayer, and conversations I was being led to a smaller, zero budget, faith based gathering approach that would genuinely rely on the promise of Zechariah 4:6, not a budget or denominational support.
So I set the date of January 6, 2011 as a step of faith in verifying the will of God for the Kingdom of God in Mobile, Alabama through a nontraditional fellowship launch. With no advertising or budget, but plenty of prayer, I began sharing with friends and on my social media the start date and the mission.
Our fellowship was affiliated with Southern Baptist for the first few years, primarily because of my ministerial affiliation, and through its NAMB SEND church planting efforts. We elected not to associate with our local Southern Baptist Association when that time came, because we did not want to require official local church membership.
At one point our church was in the process of affiliating with Calvary Chapel churches, who identify as nondenominational yet have a defined organizational structure. We share a philosophy of ministry with Calvary Chapel and are very close to them in doctrines. You can read more about our involvement with Calvary Chapel at my Calvary Chapel Split blog posts.
Today, the Bylaws of CrossHope Chapel specify a nondenominational status, and though individuals with a Southern Baptist background find themselves at home with our fellowship, we have an appeal for those of various church affiliations because of our simple verse by verse Bible teachings.