October 13, 2021 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic altering his family’s missionary ministry, Liberty University Online graduate and author John Hoogeveen (’18, ’21) has remained steadfast in sharing his Christ-led conviction for the North American Church to model biblical principles while not conforming to Western comforts.
“Awhile back while on a plane, the Lord led me to begin writing down what I believe the Church should look like based off of what we see the Bible teaches,” said Hoogeveen, who holds a Bachelor of Science in Religion – Evangelism and a Master of Arts in Religion – Global Studies from Liberty. He is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Communication. “By the end of the plane ride, I had a list of bullet points.”
After serving as missionaries throughout the Caribbean, and mainly in Puerto Rico in recent years, Hoogeveen and his wife and three children moved to western Michigan last year.
Based on his list, Hoogeveen began writing his thesis and the Holy Spirit prompted in him a growing desire to see the American Church look more like the New Testament Church. That conviction led him to write his second book, “Awakening The Sleeping Giant: Church Re-Discovered,” which was released this fall.
“Writing my thesis led me down a path of spending a lot of time in the Word and researching what the Church really is from a biblical perspective,” he said.
Hoogeveen’s book will walk readers through the structures of the New Testament Church and the North American Church while explaining the results of what stems from both structures. He also suggests biblical ways that churches in North America can begin to be transformed to look more like the body of Christ in the New Testament.
Hoogeveen said he saw the New Testament’s model of the Church — simple living, deep reliance on the Lord, and a forsaking of earthly pleasures to create more room in life for a more intimate relationship with the Lord — being contradicted in North American Christian circles, largely due to the “American dream.”
“Oftentimes many North American Church structures are built off of an American capitalist business model,” he said. “It’s not like there are all of these money-hungry pastors, but because we have built a church that is focused on bringing people in, needing more money is the only option because you have to then give the people what they want. Oftentimes, the compromise of truth is then the only option.”
It is through educating young people at the university level that Hoogeveen senses the Lord will use him to encourage others to return to how Scripture indicates the Church is to conduct itself. While he considered a Ph.D. in the field of religion, he decided instead to focus on communication so that he can better learn how to educate others on what he has learned.
“If my ultimate goal is to reach the world and to bring Jesus to a broken world, what better way to do that than to learn what they’re learning and know what they know and then infiltrate it,” he said.
Hoogeveen hopes to one day share with his future students his own testimony, which he and his wife have shared numerous times throughout their years of mission work. They have used their personal story of being teenage newlyweds and young parents who struggled financially and had a history of alcoholism and drug abuse to testify to God’s power to transform lives.
In their first nine years of marriage, the Hoogeveens lived in nine different homes, struggling to make ends meet while the Lord slowly brought the couple to the end of themselves, leaving them with no place to turn but to Him.
After surrendering their lives to the Lord in 2009, Hoogeveen resigned from his construction job and began taking courses online through Liberty.
Now, with two degrees under his belt and a third in progress, Hoogeveen is more grateful than ever for how the Lord has used his alma mater to grow him spiritually.
“Liberty was the first and only school that I applied for,” he said. “It has been fantastic, and the online program has been a godsend. I would never be able to get my college degree without it.”
He said Liberty is where he would advise every young person to attend in pursuit of furthering their education.
“The caliber of leadership that Liberty has is outstanding,” he said. “Not only leadership in the sense of knowledge and they know what they are talking about, but they are so kind and so caring.”