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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...



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Connections: Herbert Cooper

Churches Helping Churches

Herbert and Tiffany Cooper moved from Springfield, Mo., to Oklahoma City in January 2002 and began to meet with six people in their living room. The grand opening of People’s Church on May 12, 2002, attracted 65. Today, People’s Church is ministering to 3,000 people in three identical Sunday experiences. More than 3,000 people have given their lives to Jesus Christ.

People’s Church bought 50 acres in 2004 and moved into a 17,500-square-foot facility in 2006. In 2009, People’s Church added an additional 44,000-square-foot facility that includes an 1,800-seat auditorium, then remodeled the existing facility into kids and youth space. These 50 acres and new facilities are great tools to help to continue to accomplish the mission: Connecting people to God and to others.

Pastor Herbert Cooper spoke with General Superintendent George O. Wood.

WOOD: You have successfully planted a church. Tell us your journey. What were some of the things the Lord did that put you on the path you’re on today?
COOPER:
Before starting People’s Church, I was traveling across the nation as an evangelist. One night driving back from Tulsa, Okla., to Springfield, Mo., God laid it on my heart to plant a church. My wife and I began to pray, and through a series of events sensed that God wanted the church to be in Oklahoma. We moved to Oklahoma City in January 2002 with a passion to reach people who are far from God. We started the church that May in a movie theater in a local mall with about 65 people that first service.

WOOD: For a church to grow in less than six years to 1,600 in attendance requires God to work and you to work. What are the things that God did in the building of that church that you couldn’t have planned or anticipated?
COOPER:
The Lord really has brought a good team around us. Our worship pastor has been there from day one. It wasn’t my wisdom to find someone with such a passion for God, a passion for worship. I’ve thought that was such a God moment as I look back. God has given us a passion to win people to Christ, and that just becomes infectious. If you win one person to Christ, they have a whole pool of unchurched friends. I feel like that has been a key to God breathing upon the church.

WOOD: How do you motivate your congregation in stewardship to get behind that kind of growth?
COOPER:
Stewardship is a part of being a follower of Jesus Christ — tithing and giving offerings above the tithe. I’ve taught stewardship at People’s Church from day one. One of our capital campaigns was called the “Crazy Campaign.” We’re crazy about God; we’re crazy about Oklahoma City; we’re crazy about the unchurched; we’re crazy about the next generation; and we’re crazy about discipleship.

WOOD: Your church is very multicultural. Tell me about that.
COOPER:
It’s just a little like heaven, very diverse. I would say we’re about 60 percent black and about 40 percent divided among white and Native American and Latino families. We’re a very diverse church generationally as well. As the church has gotten a little older we’ve had some older believers begin to realize, “Hey, this thing is going to work,” and get behind it.

WOOD: Where do you see the church going?
COOPER: It’s our heart and passion to become a multisite church. We want to develop a campus on the south side of Oklahoma City and continue to reach people who are far from God, see them experience new life in Christ and grow in their relationship with God.
I have a heart for planting churches, so not only are we looking to establish a multisite church, but we’re heavily involved in missions and local church planting. We heavily support a recently established church, Elevate Church, in Wylie, Texas. We really want to help resource church planters to fulfill the Great Commission.

WOOD: So often churches can get “inward bound,” focused on their own needs. But as we become “outward bound,” missional in our thinking, God really blesses.
COOPER:
I remember when we moved out of our first movie theater into a larger location, we took all our original equipment and gave it to a church plant in Des Moines, Iowa. We have always taken 10 percent of our budget and given it away, and the Lord has blessed that. Because of His blessing, we have never been in need, we’ve never been without. If we take on a church planter, we commit at least $500 a month to that project. You can’t outgive God.

WOOD: Sometimes, though, after working hard in ministry, you can experience an “Elijah Syndrome,” a season of discouragement.
COOPER:
Yes, you can. And it’s important to prepare for that and make sure you schedule time with your family. You have to get away and replenish and recharge the batteries. And that includes spending time with the Lord as well. It’s vital. The pastor who can do that for a week or so can come back into ministry renewed and ready to go.

WOOD: Talk a little more about your family and balancing family with ministry.
COOPER:
My wife and I have four children. Family is a priority for us. God’s given us a great ministry team, which lets us keep that priority in focus. I work hard to keep my schedule so that I have five or six evenings home every week.

And I would say to anyone who is planting a church, start from the beginning with your family as your priority. You might be tempted to say, “Next year it’s going to be easier.” It never gets easier. There are always going to be new challenges and goals. You have to start off by making your family your priority.

WOOD: It’s very important that the Assemblies of God develop younger ministers. We have 1.1 million people under the age of 25 in our churches, and they are a great resource. What do you believe the Assemblies of God has to offer to a young minister?
COOPER:
I value the fellowship and network of friends. I don’t want to be one man on an island. I was just talking to a young minister recently who was wondering which way to go in his affiliation, and I told him, “This is a great Fellowship.” And that holds true no matter what your ethnic background is. Whether you’re white, black, Hispanic, Native American … the fellowship and resourcing you can get is just unbelievable. That’s the biggest strength I’ve discovered personally.

WOOD: We’re a young people’s Movement, and I want to say to young ministers and pastors, “This is the place for you.” We’re here to embrace you and recognize your call. And you’re really going to be connected to a worldwide Fellowship. It’s phenomenal.
COOPER:
And I would encourage anyone in ministry to become involved in the church planting movement. I’m a church planter. I’m passionate about it. You can get involved in church planting no matter how big or small your church is, or the size of your budget. Look into a way that you can help plant a church or mother a church or encourage a church planter. Something as simple as a phone call can mean so much. I believe we can partner and reach a lot of people for Christ through church planting.

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