When Jodi Cataldo offered H.O.P.E. to lay people from the smallest Oklahoma churches, her own story gave credibility to the presentation.
She attends a small church too, although she works nationally for The United Methodist Church. In the Dakotas Conference, she’s part of a congregation with fewer than 20 people, according to Derrek Belase.
Cataldo directs Laity in Leadership for the denomination’s Discipleship Ministries, based in Nashville, Tenn.
She introduced the H.O.P.E. system at four Oklahoma events in late February, targeting churches with the smallest membership numbers. Organizing the sessions was Rev. Belase, director of Discipleship Ministries for the Oklahoma Conference.
He said the system is "universally applicable."
Steps to achieve the mission of the Church — making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world — are described extensively in Paragraph 122 of the UMC Book of Discipline.
Cataldo said H.O.P.E. is an easy-to-remember version of those steps: hospitality, offer Christ, purpose, and engagement.
"The work of the laity" is vital for this approach, she said.
Laity have "the ability to make connections with the larger community outside the church, to share Christ’s love and to reach the unchurched in a much more impactful way than our clergy."
One tool to initiate H.O.P.E. in your congregation is from the popular Chuck Knows Church video series: "Discipleship Systems." Find the free resource at https://ChuckKnowsChurch.com/the-committee/discipleship-system
Belase said the video was well received by the 213 people in attendance. They represented 73 churches in the Oklahoma Conference and eight congregations of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
An advanced lay servant course that ties into H.O.P.E. also is available now in Oklahoma, Belase said. The curriculum was written by Jim Hollifield, pastor at Wagoner.
Find a brochure about H.O.P.E. or connect with Cataldo at www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/tools-for-lay-ministry-the-core-process-hope#
— Holly McCray