Ludie Creech, his wife Barbara and their family moved to Ireland from the USA in December 2008. Since that time, Ludie has transitioned through multiple roles within OM Ireland. After developing the Philippian Project–a programme for long-term couples and families to serve with a local church–Ludie switched from promoting the ministry to becoming part of it. But rather than joining a pre-established church, Ludie, along with others, planted a new church in a new town with the hope of seeing God’s kingdom expanded.
The religious statistics in Ireland give a clear picture of the need for the gospel. “There are numerous town with populations of over 5,000 that do not have a gospel-centred church,” Ludie shared. “I had a couple days in my work week to focus on church ministry, and after a while, I started to think that this idea of church planting had a nice ring to it.”
Ludie and Barbara’s church, Grace Community Church, had been reaching out to Longford for nearly ten years. Two families from the church were already living there and agreed to be part of a new church plant if it came to be. “We wanted to plant this church as part of a team and God graciously put people around us who said, ‘We’ll go with you,’” Ludie said. “We’re not just sitting there by ourselves trying to figure it out. There’s history, intelligence and support to build on.”
As they wanted to be intentional about reaching the community, Ludie and his co-planter Tim Coyle spent time going door-to-door, setting up a literature table on the sidewalk in town, offering movie nights and holding community discussions about ‘Big [Life] Questions People Ask.’
“It’s not just sitting back and preaching on Sundays,” Ludie said. “But really reaching into the community with the gospel.”
Longford boasts a population of roughly 27,500 people within a 12km radius from the town centre. Ludie shared how they decided to “boldly ask God for one per cent of the population to come to Christ through the proclamation of the gospel. That’s 275 people in the next year or two. It sounds crazy and huge, but we believe that God saves people and He does it through the preaching of His word. …We don’t want to just see people [come to salvation in Christ]. We want to see them discipled and embracing Christian living in every area of their life. It won’t be an overnight thing, so it requires investment into people.”
In addition to their Sunday morning service, Ludie’s family and their team are finding ways to be involved in the community. As they see it, being good neighbours and citizens is all part of the platform to share the gospel. A team from Ludie’s church in the USA travelled to Ireland and helped clean about six miles of highway. Such community service helped establish relationships as well as their own identity as a church group.
“As God gives you the opportunity, preaching the gospel to them, whether that’s over coffee, on the street corner, at the literature table, in a church service … we’ve got one message to bring to people: only God can save. All we’re told to do is preach the gospel and trust God to bring about the increase from that.”
The name Hope Community Church holds deep truths for its members and the community. Ludie defined the different parts of the name as follows:
Hope: “We’re living in a land where everything folks placed their hope in (people, relationships, finance, health, even the church) has let them down and will let them down. We want people to know that there is hope in Jesus. No one is beyond hope.”
Community: “We’re a people of community. We love coming together because we’re created by a God who’s been in community for all eternity. We want to create that place for people to come together.”
Church: “The church [the people] is the highest form of community. We don’t have to get crazy ideas about fulfilling the Great Commission because He’s already given it to us: the local church where people can live in the light of the Gospel.”
The Hope Community Church family meets at 11:00 in the Longford Arms Hotel each Sunday morning. For more information, see their Facebook page HCC Longford or contact Pastor Ludie.