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Doing All Things To Win Some And Leaving A Legacy For The Next Generation

and Leaving a Legacy for the Next Generation

1 Cor. 9:22b—"I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some."

Jude 1:22-23—"Be merciful to those who doubt; 23] snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear..."

If anyone were to ask you to explain what Hillcrest Chapel is all about, you could formulate an answer from the summary on the inside flap of your bulletin each week.

How was our philosophy of ministry formed? With a view of Scripture, history and culture, we deduced principles, lessons and implications to help us form our contemporary mission and strategy.

What is the summary mission of Hillcrest Chapel? What is our mission statement?

Hillcrest Chapel is to be a dynamic force of people (community of believers),
filled with the Spirit,
meeting people's needs in Jesus' name (stead),
wherever we find ourselves.

How will this be accomplished? What are our Mission Purposes and Priorities?

If it be the Lord’s will, our mission will be accomplished by enjoying God's presence through a lifestyle of worship; by being equipped for service; by encouraging healing fellowship, through love, acceptance, forgiveness and belonging; and by being enlisted and sent out as salt and light to the Bellingham area and to the world—Acts 2:41-47. Hillcrest Chapel is committed to:

  1. Worship—to reach up and enjoy God's presence
  2. Healing Fellowship—to lift up by encouraging, healing fellowship
  3. Equipping—to train up by equipping God's people
  4. Sending—to reach out by enlisting and sending out

How have we been doing in reaching the people of Bellingham, Whatcom and Skagit Counties? We have watched many people come and go. The statistics for Hillcrest Chapel show that over 6,000 people have been a part of this church over 24 years' time. Part of the reason for these numbers is that there is a 20-30 percent turnover in the populations of college and military towns. That turnover obviously affects the local churches as well.

 

So what is the size of our church? Where are our people coming from? Have we been raiding local churches? Our estimates show that for a little under 50 percent of our congregation, this is the first evangelical church they've been a part of. Most of our newcomers are here because of a personal invitation from a friend. When we began this year, we were ministering to between 1,200-1,500 adults and children through our church.

You may not be aware of this, but since January, we have added between 60 and 100 new people to our Sunday morning services. This is hard to see during the summer, but wait until after Labor Day! Although we have seen growth in the evening service (4th service), we continue to see the most growth during the morning services, which is very consistent with other churches in our area and around the country. New people are most likely to attend church services on a Sunday morning. (Remember that!)

So when the services are full, what should we do?

  • Do we put up a sign that reads: "I'm sorry, we're full, please find somewhere else to attend?" If we wanted to be even more crass we could say: "Unless you are a card-carrying Hillcrest person, we don't want you—hope you make it into eternity. Have a nice day."

 

Of course, we could never do that! Obviously we will have to make some changes. What have we learned about change and reaching people for Christ in these last 10 years? In a series I did last year, I capsulized the lessons of change in a series we called, Questions of the Century, a series of messages in which our questions were asked and answered from the book of Acts.

In one message I asked, "What should healthy change look like in the next 100 years?" The answer was, "The same way it did in the first church in Jerusalem"—Acts 6:8-8:24. From that section of Scripture, we extracted a number of change principles that are true not only of the early church, but of every other growing church like Hillcrest Chapel. These are the principles as applied to Hillcrest—all of which we have experienced over the last 10 years.

 

Change/Growth Principles Review from Acts 6:8-8:24

 

#1 Change/growth is inevitable in a healthy Christian's life and will only end in eternity. Therefore, fighting change will ultimately fail. (See Acts 6:8-7:60; 8:1-4; Matthew 18:3; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.)

#2 Change/growth is usually necessary to reach new people for Christ and to maintain focus on the next generation of believers. For example, the disciples and/or someone had to eventually leave Jerusalem to fulfill Acts 1:8. (See Acts 8:5-8.) Likewise, change will be necessary for us at Hillcrest in order to reach new people for Christ and to maintain focus on the next generation of believers. For example, I have had to make many changes:

  • shorter messages
  • no longer teach on a stool
  • no more lengthy handouts
  • adjust to stand-alone sermons
  • change from a farmer to a rancher
  • add a fourth service
  • focus on priorities

#3 Change/growth is most often preceded by pain and/or accompanied by stretching experiences: persecution; character development; and/or ministry challenges, e.g., Stephen, Philip, the Apostles—Acts 8:5ff.

#4 Change/growth that is needed is often interior, but the need is revealed through our words and actions, e.g., Simon the Sorcerer—Acts 8:23. (Character and values are grown in the crucible of interior change.)

#5 When we make Jesus the focus of our life, then all change/growth will ultimately conform us/change us to be like Him, e.g., Stephen at his death—Acts 7:55-60.

So if we are asking why things have to change at Hillcrest Chapel (we like things the way they are), we have these change principles to look at from the book of Acts. The need for change can be summed up in two passages of Scripture that have strongly spoken to me over the last number of years.

Paul’s reflection in 1 Corinthians 9:22 capsulizes our motivation for change—"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."

Adding to these verses are those in Jude 1:22-23—"Be merciful to those who doubt; 23] snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear..."

It is necessary to change in order to "become all things to all people so that by all possible means we might save some... even snatch people from the flames." So as we look to the future, what changes need to be made, and which ones will we have to stretch toward? What are the big challenges and need for change, as we attempt by God’s grace to do all things to win some and leave a legacy for the next generation?

To help us answer these questions, let’s review what have we done in the last few years to accommodate the crowds and fulfill our mission.

We made some wonderful changes in our children’s programs—changed the format so that our new Treasureland for kids not only has a greatly improved curriculum and philosophy, but added kids’ praise to our children’s programs. This not only improved their worship experience, but it gave us a few more seats in our sanctuary. We also added a fourth service in the evening. (I would love to have you all see the life, health and growth of that service. It has been a great addition to our services.) Each of these changes have added further ministry and space for more people.

Of course, we all know that for 10 years we have been involved in a facility expansion. This expansion will be the single biggest physical change in my 24 years at Hillcrest. Over the next year, we will see a brand new physical structure begin to take shape that will seat twice as many people as our current facility and provide space for twice the children and youth. What an exciting change that will be!

In a letter to you I wrote: "I am ecstatic about the new facility plans. Think of it:

  • no more "sideways sanctuary"
  • a sound system that doesn’t talk back to me
  • lights that reflect our faith, not a dungeon
  • space for gatherings before and after services where we can meet with friends
  • windows... yes, windows
  • a kitchen big enough to put on dinners, not just snacks
  • screens positioned so that those on the side of the platform don’t go home with a kink in their necks
  • children’s space that will enable our Treasureland program to do what our children’s pastors have dreamed of
  • offices that are not converted restrooms, laundry rooms, garages, bedrooms and kitchens

These are a few of the positive changes ahead! As you know, the names of the various emphases have changed over the years, but currently we are calling our facility expansion program, The Legacy. Our theme is "Building God's Church for Generations." If I were to meld the themes from Legacy and 1 Corinthians 9, it would be: "Doing all things, in order that we might save some and leave a legacy for the next generation."

Until the building is built, there any transitional changes that will need to be made. Our staff has begun to work on what we are calling Hillcrest 2002—a thorough study of what we need to do as our new building is built. As I pointed out earlier, we have discovered that although we have seen growth in the 4th service, we continue to see the most growth during the morning services. Therefore, as our letter said, in light of our desire to "do all things, in order that we might save some," we are initiating a few changes to our service structure as a one-year preparation for our new facility. (We are going to grow when we get our new building, and we want to make sure we grow in a healthy fashion.)

You may already have heard that effective August 19, we have combined our two Sunday evening services into one new service that starts at 6:30 p.m. This service will continue to provide an extended worship, teaching and ministry experience from 6:30-8 p.m., with the added benefit of having full Treasureland for children and families.

In addition to this change, we are also making some changes in our morning service structure. Again, we are not changing our values or our commitment to ministry; these will remain strong and central. Effective September 30, 2001, we will shorten the length of our morning services and add a new service to the schedule. The new times will be:

  1. 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  2. 9:45-10:45 a.m
  3. 11:15-12:15 p.m.

The challenges of our new morning format are obvious:

  • Transition time will be short between 2nd and 3rd services.
  • Being on time will be crucial to get the flow and content of the service.
  • Parking lot use may have to be staggered.
  • We will need more volunteers for the morning and evening services.

As we said, we know that change is never easy, but we are asking you to join us in a year of preparation for our new facility, by joyfully making room for more people. Because God is adding to our number, our hope is that each and every one of us will "do all things, in order that we might save some and leave a legacy for the next generation."

Now, as I list these changes, I’m sure some might say:

"The church is changing and growing too fast—it is really stretching me. I’m not sure I like large churches."

When people say that I wonder what they mean.

  • Do they mean we should intentionally keep people out? (As we asked earlier, should we put signs up?)

     

  • Do they mean they want to go to a church that is small, and keep it that way, however they can?

     

  • Are they saying that big is bad? If that is the case, then the Holy Spirit made a mistake in Jerusalem! What size is too big for Hillcrest Chapel? What change in size is too big? I have lived through the church being 125 and now to 1,500. When should we have stopped... just after we all got in the church? Or is it God’s job to grow the church? You know, I have learned that the Lord said, "I will build my church and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it"—Matthew 16:18. I certainly don’t want to fight what God has done and is doing!

    So as we grow, we will have to make sure that we continue to emphasize the importance of small groups and other fellowship gatherings; that will have to be a priority as it was in the early church in Jerusalem.

Another might say,

"I'm struggling because the length of worship and worship leaders/teams keep changing."

There have been many changes in our worship over the years. What changes are we struggling with?

Are we talking about the change in worship when Mike Dittman and Brady Bobbink led worship? (Dr. Mike Dittman is now the head of a counseling department at a seminary. Maybe we should call him back to lead worship here.) Or maybe we are talking about when one of my interns, Diana Waring, was leading worship. Well, she is living in South Dakota, is married, and has four children. She has written a very successful book and materials for parents who home school. Maybe we should ask her back to lead worship.

Maybe Gordy McDonald should be asked to leave his directorship of the Montana YWAM base and come back to lead worship here at Hillcrest. (Or, maybe we could get someone from that base to come and lead worship here, like Sean Hall!) All of these former worship leaders and many more, including our beloved Paul Petersen, have gone on to do new things.

We are extremely blessed to have had the worship leaders we have had in the past, and we continue to be blessed with the outstanding worship leaders and their teams who will lead worship for this generation and the next.

(As a sidelight, it is interesting that we had three services in the morning in the 1980s—so in some ways, we are going back to the good old days with the three-service format.)

By the way, in order to have venues for longer worship, we will be providing a number of opportunities for extended worship this fall and next year. There will be at least five possibilities for extended worship.

  • Fourth service. Of course we will continue to have one and a half hour 4th service where extended worship and ministry time will be provided.
  • Spirit Life. We are currently considering a new monthly gathering which we will call "Spirit Life." We will be giving more details as we get closer to that event.
  • Spirit Life seminar. Two times a year we will also want to have a two-day event during which we extend "Spirit Life" into a two-day seminar—a continuation of our Alpha program—if there is sufficient interest.
  • Communion. We will continue to have communion on Sunday mornings, and extend worship on those Sundays.
  • Thirst Nights of Worship. We will have our Thirst Nights of Worship—a citywide event with two hours of worship and prayer.

All these opportunities will supplement and expand our worship experience here at Hillcrest.

Some might say,

"I'm not sure I want us to change the size of our church building or the sense of closeness we feel in our present sanctuary."

Again I ask, what change are we talking about? Are we talking about the sense of closeness we had when the church was facing south and we had pews? Are we talking about the building size before the remodel? (Some of you would have been sitting outside if we returned to that day.) Isn’t it interesting that eventually we get used to almost every change.

Will change and growth continue to happen at Hillcrest? Of course it will. Some things change often; others never change. As we said, our mission statement is the same as when it was first published in 1977, and our four purposes have been the same for 24 years. We still have the same commitment to study the Scriptures; the same commitment to see Jesus glorified and the same desire to see people come to know Jesus and grow!

So why do we go through this kind of change? Listen to 1 Corinthians 9:19ff:

Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20] To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21] To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. 22] To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23] I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Why does Paul push beyond his comfort zone and the natural inclination to take the easy road and become all things to all men and by all possible means? Why stretch? Why change?

  • "...to win as many as possible"—v. 19;
  • "...to win the Jews...to win those under the law"—v. 20;
  • "...to win those not having the law"—v. 21;
  • "...to win the weak"—v. 22b;
  • "...(to)..save some...for the sake of the gospel..."—vv. 22-23.

Let's ask ourselves what the aim for our lives is. Paul says in 1 Cor. 9:26: "I do not run like a man running aimlessly..." What then should be our aim? To win, to win, to win, to win—to save as many people as possible for Christ and to see them mature in Christ. It was the potential of winning others to Christ that pushed Paul beyond selfishness.

Besides the wonderful possibility of winning people to Christ, what will be the by-product of unselfish service and sacrifice? Listen again to 1 Corinthians 9:22-23—I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. 23] I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. This was the motivation for Paul and the results of these choices. As he looked at all the options available, he chose to be an instrument of God "for the sake of the gospel, " to do whatever was necessary so that he might win some. The result was a share in the blessings of the gospel.

AI believe there are tremendous blessings ahead for a church who willingly, even enthusiastically makes Paul’s attitude theirs—to become what they need to become in order to win people! As I have said in the last few years, I am motivated more than ever before to do what I can (and we can), to win as many people as we can for the gospel. This desire "to win" is pushing me in lots of areas as well.

Right now my most consistent prayer is, "Lord, here we are as a church, send us to do whatever it takes to reach and win as many people as possible for You"—1 Cor. 9:22-23.

Application Questions

  1. Have you been fighting healthy change? What has been the result?

     

  2. If you changed in the way you know God wants you to change, who might you influence for good? (Apply to the church, too.)

     

  3. Are there painful/stretching experiences in your life now or in the recent past? How might this pain ultimately help/change you for good? What is being developed in you?

     

  4. Is there any sin or negative character quality that needs to be changed in you? Have you excused it by saying something like, "That’s the way I am;" "I will never change;" "I’m tired of trying."

     

  5. What do these excuses reveal to you? Does Simon the Sorcerer’s life and rebuke instruct you in the importance of change?

     

  6. Does Hebrews 12:1-3 reflect your focus & ambition? What would change look like if it was? Do you want to be like Jesus? "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2] Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3] Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."

Mission Statement

Our Mission Vision: to know Jesus, be like Him and do His works—Rom. 8:29.

Our Mission Statement: Hillcrest Chapel is to be a dynamic force of people (body of believers), filled with the Spirit, meeting people’s needs in Jesus’ name (stead)—whenever and wherever we find ourselves.

How will this be accomplished?

Our Mission Purpoes and Priorities: Our mission will be accomplished by enjoying God’s presence through a lifestyle of worship; by being equipped for service; by encouraging healing fellowship, through love, acceptance, forgiveness and belonging; and by being enlisted and sent out as salt and light to the Bellingham area and to the world.

  1. Worship—to reach up and enjoy God’s presence
  2. Equipping—to train up by equipping God’s people
  3. Healing Fellowship—to lift up by encouraging healing fellowship
  4. Sending—to reach out by enlisting and sending out

Our Mission Values: H I L L C R E S T F O R C E

This acrostic helps to summarize our values and our unique calling. There are 14 things that Hillcrest Chapel values.

Our Mission’s Legacy: Building God’s Church For Generations

"One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts"—Psalm 145:4.