What does revival look like? Pastor Michael D. Hook of True Life Church in Waukesha, Wisconsin has this to say, “Every time I’m in the pulpit, I talk about revival. I speak on revival, miracles, deliverance and healing in every service. I expect the miraculous every time we come together. If I can help it, I will not allow a service to go by without God’s touch. I purposely make an opportunity for worship and the supernatural. We create an environment of worship so people can make a connection with God.”
Pastor Hook’s priorities are mentorship and discipleship to all believers. Pastor Hook and his wife, Rose, have been married for almost 42 years. “For the last 25 years, I have taught a home Bible study at the church on Tuesday nights and missed very few Tuesdays through the years. I’d rather be at my Tuesday night Bible study than almost anywhere else. That’s how I make a personal connection with first-time believers. I have had the privilege of teaching a Bible study to the majority of the people at True Life.”
Pastor Hook teaches different parts of various Bible studies. “After ten or twelve weeks, I’ll make a renewed push to have new attendees join my Bible study. They can jump in at anytime. Most of the time, I have 10 to 15 in the study ongoing.”
After these initial Bible studies, “we introduce the new believers to our Life Keys class which is more in-depth discipleship. This is the tool we use to disciple people and at the end of these classes we give them a gift test and get them involved in a ministry. It’s all about finding people’s individual gift that can be used in the body of Christ. In today’s world, most people don’t know what a Godly family really looks like. In these Life Keys classes, we also teach tithing, standards and other fundamental Apostolic beliefs.”
Ministries and Methods for Increasing Attendance
Special events have been True Life Church’s biggest growth. “We’re partnered with Feeding America and have a monthly mobile food pantry. A semi-truck comes, and we take the food and feed people. We normally have 70 to 100 people volunteer their time once a month on a Friday night to help feed Waukesha. We go downtown and feed 1,200 to 1,300 people. We’ve been featured in numerous articles in newspapers and on several occasions have been highlighted on local news outlets for our community involvement. It is great advertisement while we impact our community.”
On the Sunday morning following the food connection, True Life Church gears its services for the new guests that come as a result of these efforts. “We have a SuperChurch for the kids where they can worship and receive the Holy Ghost,” explained Pastor Hook. “The lowest number of guests has been 30, and most months we have around 50 first-time guests. Also, the evening service following the food connection is bilingual to help us reach our Spanish community.”
Another outreach is the church’s 4th of July float that has won first place the last three years in the city. About 10,000 to 15,000 people attend this event in downtown Waukesha. “We’re situated right on Interstate 94,” said the pastor. “We allow people to watch the city fireworks from our parking lot. We give them a flier and provide snacks. We have our praise team sing. We offer tours of the property and allow them to use our restrooms.
“Also, we have an event called ‘Trunk or Treat.’ It’s safe, nothing scary. We give away stuff and have over 200 guests on our parking lot the Saturday before Halloween.”
Organization and Management
There are several departments at True Life Church including Children, Music, Life Keys (Discipleship), Greenhouse (Leadership), Hyphen (18-35), Ladies, Men, Outreach, Prayer, Sign Team, Usher/Greeter, Youth, Audio/Visual, Food Pantry and Hospitality. Also, visitors can enjoy cappuccino, espresso and sweet rolls at the church’s coffee shop.
For regular communication with his leaders, Pastor Hook uses Facebook. “We’re constantly communicating on Facebook. We have a massive database which allows me to text everyone in our various departments or groups. We don’t have as much face-to-face time, but that works pretty well. We have a quarterly meeting as well as yearly planning. We have an administrative pastor full-time and a secretary. My administrative pastor has helped a great deal with organizing our social media.”
For their annual meeting, the leaders talk about their vision for the next year. “We will already have the calendar,” said the pastor. “We don’t override and conflict with each other. We’ll critique the calendar, major events, VBS, district events, sectional events and state events. We make Thursday night church-wide prayer twice a month. The other Thursday nights our elder women invite the young ladies to meet at a restaurant once a month. We have a men’s fellowship the first Friday night of each month. Fellowship is a key part of the church.”
Pastor Hook said that two-thirds of the church members are involved in some form of ministry, with 25 percent involved in evangelism. “We have four outreach teams that every Monday night call MIA’s and visit new guests that have come the previous Sunday,” he said. “We’ll call and stop by for five to 10 minutes and give a gift card. That’s where we try to get the Bible study. Every fifth Monday, we have all-church outreach where all four teams come together to do outreach.”
Getting Involved in Church and Lives
Pastor Hook says, “Most people need some kind of deliverance, from dealing with all sorts of addictions to low self-esteem. I try to exemplify kindness and connecting with people. I enjoy preaching faith and teaching Bible studies. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been in church 30 years, you still need the Word. I’m a heart preacher. I try to reach people’s hearts and help them make a decision. It’s not just head knowledge. I try to help people make a change of heart.
“Revival is our biggest focus. We reach for the people that most wouldn’t want in their church, like people needing food. We have worked with local authorities for the past 25 years for people to do community service to help work off their jail time. A lot of those people have gotten baptized. We’ve reached and trusted people that others wouldn’t.”
Outreach and Promoting Greater Buy-In
According to Pastor Hook, Bible studies have always been the church’s biggest method of outreach. “One on one, I’ve tried to build friendships,” he said. “I’m very personable. My door has always been open to my office. I keep regular office hours and make myself accessible. I let people know that I’m not perfect. I’m a human being and allow people to see that ‘what you see is what you get.’ That’s the way I’ve always built relationships.”
To encourage involvement, he tries to involve people that haven’t gotten everything fully. “If you don’t involve people somehow, they don’t stick,” he said. “Once a year, I’ll allow people to be a part of Christmas music choir. They can’t wear jewelry or anything like that. We allow people to help with the food pantry and in the nursery. I promote involvement every way I can. I don’t let people on the platform unless they conform to Apostolic guidelines. I do allow people to greet that do not look Apostolic. I just want everyone to feel a part. If people are willing to become involved, we need to find a place for them to become involved. If people are involved, the buy-in is much greater.”
As of May 1, 1989, attendance at the church was about 25. “In the last three years, we’ve doubled,” said Pastor Hook. “Now we have over 300 that attend our church. We average 10 baptisms a month, 120 a year. This year we’re probably on that same track as well.”
“I just had the privilege of traveling in every section in our district,” he said. “The main thing God was speaking to me about was that everybody, every minister is important, whether they pastor a small or large group. None of us deserve by our own goodness to be pastors or evangelists. It’s only by the grace of God that we are where we are. Speaking from my heart, everybody is of equal importance in the eyes of God. It’s not just about the guy that can preach the best or the guy that’s got the biggest number. I’m not in competition with anybody else. What I’ve done and what I do is just as important as those who hold any office or serve on any board. I know what it is to be small and larger. Everyone needs to show that same kind of love and compassion. In God’s eyes, everybody is important in the body of Christ. I’m a boy from Kentucky asked by my peers to lead this district in revival; I feel so unworthy and unqualified, but God is not looking on the outside. God is raising up men and women. When I’m gone, I’m praying that God gives every younger minister a double portion of faith to impact this generation. I want that double portion of anointing from God that my father had. The darker the night, the brighter the light. Everyone has that potential to become a mighty man or woman of God. Realize that they are just as important as the next guy. None of us deserve to even be here. We’re all fellow strugglers together.”