Our church began meeting on Sunday, January 6, 2011 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.
Why We Began
While I was working at Providence Hospital as a hospital chaplain, I was taken back by a high number of patients with church backgrounds who could express and articulate their personal belief in Jesus Christ and convictions in biblical doctrines, yet who also had no regular involvement and fellowship with any church congregation.
Many of these same individuals also shared stories with me of their similar church experiences of feeling disconnected from other members or anxiety because of the larger crowd or hearing issues with loud bands or struggles with actual biblical growth, however nearly all were consistent in their praise for either a past interpersonal 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 Baptist church format.
Admittedly, I could empathize with these people because when I was sitting in the pews of an otherwise great Baptist 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 is expected to grow 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 since 2001, but my background and seminary education was with the Adventist denominational where I was involved in church planting through the traditional route of a sending model that seeks launching big, growing big, and relying on staying big.
As early as 2006, I was sensing the Holy Spirit leading me to consider planting an informal church in Mobile, Alabama believing that I was not the only one in our formal Southern Baptist culture yearning for a simpler fellowship.
After some research, prayer, and conversations 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 an informal church launch. With zero-budget, no advertising or expectation of ministry volunteers, I began sharing with friends and on my social media the start date and telling my story of starting a simpler church.
CrossHope Chapel is an autonomous and self-governing church organization under headship of the Lord Jesus Christ, and have become a church family for people of various denominational and church backgrounds looking for a simpler church experience.
Our fellowship began affiliated with Southern Baptist through its NAMB SEND church planting efforts. At the required 5-year point we elected not to associate with our local Southern Baptist Association but only because we did not want to require official local church membership.
We believed then and now, that by maintaining a non-member non-profit church organization through our ByLaws and in the same practice as Calvary Chapel churches, it would be more congruent for mission.
In 2016 we were were in the process of affiliating with Calvary Chapel Association, but a split occurred in the Calvary Chapel leadership council and that put an unexpected halt to the process, at least temporarily. We have since become partners with the Calvary Global Network.
We are nondenominational by our ByLaws and we sometimes use the moniker “Bible Church” as a tagline on our media to note our belief in the supremacy and sufficiency of God’s Word as central to our doctrines, fellowship, and church organization.
CrossHope Chapel exists by the will of God and we are committed to trusting in the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 4:6) for the direction and future of our fellowship’s growth.
We are both content with whoever or how many the Lord sends to us, and restless in our desire to reach more, but we will not be defined by the number of budgets, buildings, or butts in our seats.