the shape of leadership

Hope Is a Light in the Darkest Places

A Q&A with Jeffery Portmann

Chris Colvin on July 31, 2019

Jeffery Portmann along with his wife, Joanne, started newhope church (Assemblies of God) to reach the unreached of Washington’s Puget Sound region.

INFLUENCE: What makes Puget Sound different from other places in America?
PORTMANN: We are as far west as you can get, and people originally came here for a fresh start, adventure and the possibilities of a better life. That adventurous spirit continues today, but it also makes people lean toward self-reliance. As one of the most highly educated places, where major corporations established hubs, there is a level of affluence that can make it difficult to minister because they don’t necessarily feel a need for God.

How do you begin sharing the gospel in such an environment?
We talk about a post-Christian America, but Puget Sound is really now a pre-Christian community. They haven’t rejected the gospel as much as they haven’t even been exposed to it because their parents and grandparents stopped going to church long ago.

But the darker the venue, the brighter the light. The gospel is good news. It’s both good and news. It’s news to some because the only concept they have of Jesus is that He is a swear word. So we get to introduce them to Him, and then they find out how good He is.

“The darker the venue, the brighter the light.”
— Jeffery Portmann

You had a vision to launch five campuses in five years. What was the inspiration for that?
It actually started with a napkin. My wife and I were eating dinner and talking about our vision for church planting. As God began to give us ideas, I quickly grabbed a napkin and scribbled them down. It was all about presenting hope and developing people, which meant multiplying. I sensed God right there deposit the vision of 5 in 5 — to plant five campuses in five years.

Church planting doesn’t take four years in other places. They just do it. But we needed a different plan because of our unique setting. We started building teams who focused on multiplication and kept the vision in front of our people. The key theme was apprenticing leaders while making disciples. In fact, we just rolled out our new vision: The Next 5 — Each One Add One. Now that God has given us five campuses in five years, we’re going to add five more!

How is newhope church influencing the Puget Sound area?
We feel like newhope is reinforcement to other churches who are already here. We weren’t the first ones. And we know how hard ministry can be here. Because more people don’t go to church than do, it’s real spiritual warfare. If you’re in a war, you aren’t bothered when another general comes into town. You just appreciate it when they let you know they’re bringing troops in.

I hope that people in the community feel hope when they meet someone from newhope. Hope is just an extension of the fruit of the Spirt in their lives daily, wherever they are. No one feels like they have too much hope. And Jesus is the hope of the world through the local church.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 edition of Influence magazine.

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