AlohaNovember 12, 2005
I had the privilege of meeting Mike Sharpe yesterday. Mike is the Technology Director at New Hope Christian Fellowship, Hawaii's largest church. He wanted to learn more about Fellowship and had some great questions, but as is so often the case, I think I learned more from him.
New Hope is a truly amazing story. Started just over 10 years ago, they now have over 10,000 people attending each weekend. They've also started a satellite church that now has more than 2,000 people showing up. The fact that all of this has happened despite the many challenges they face is equally inspiring.
The main campus meets in a high school that can seat about 1,500 people. They have five services each weekend and almost every one utilizes outside overflow to handle the crowd. Volunteers arrive in the middle of the night to convert the entire school into a church, including the classrooms into children's facilities. They remove every single thing from the rooms, clean and sanitize them, and then bring in everything they need, reversing the process on Sunday afternoon.
Due to the unbelievable cost of land and materials, they have no plans for a permanent facility, which surely makes them one of the largest portable churches in the country. With only 40 full-time staff, it is truly amazing to see what God is doing in Hawaii through the thousands of volunteers and members of New Hope.
Of course, we spent our time talking web and technology and there were some interesting things there as well. Their senior pastor has his own blog that he has used periodically and they are starting five staff blogs in the near future. They also stream all 5 of their services live online. This is heavily used by the many members of the church who are in the military and stationed around the world. They even have a station on Live365.com that receives tons of traffic despite almost zero promotion. I love to see cool technology with a purpose.
Lastly, I really like their website for two reasons: it's full of photos and stories. Whether you're new to a church or have been there for years, that's really what people want to see - the life of the church.
I hope I'll have the chance to visit New Hope someday and see it up close.