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HILLCREST FORCE Acrostic: Our Strategy and Calling

Our mission statement captures in two sentences Hillcrest's long-held values and philosophy of ministry. "Hillcrest Chapel is to be a dynamic force of people (body of believers) filled with God's Spirit, meeting people's needs in Jesus' name. This 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."

The following is an acrostic which helps to summarize our strategy and calling. Fourteen things make Hillcrest different/unique. Presenting our Hillcrest Force Acrostic:

 

Healing Fellowship:

This is one of the foundational concepts that has formed Hillcrest Chapel's ministry in and out of the church—2 Cor. 6:11-13; 1 Cor. 13:4-8a; Rom. 15:7; Eph. 4:32; Rom. 12:5. We define healing with 4 words: love, acceptance, forgiveness and belonging. We believe these 4 words create an environment where healing takes place.

Individually important and collectively dependent

We each have unique gifts and value, but we are also dependent on each other (the whole team)—Rom. 12:4-6; Eph. 4:16. We can't say we don't belong because we are different—I Cor. 12:14-16. We can say we belong to each other and need each other because we are a Body—vv. 9,24-27.

Leadership by example—low profile, high commitment:

We believe leaders lead by their example and service. Whereas authority is given to leaders in a local church, it should be so characterized by love that it is hardly visible, except in cases of church discipline, vision casting, and doctrinal purity—1 Pet. 5:1-4; Heb. 13:17; 1 Tim. 4:11-16. We believe people should consider the outcome of a leader's life and imitate his faith, especially those who speak the Word of God to us—Heb. 13:7.

Lifestyle of worship expressed in words and good deeds:

We believe worship is a growing and ongoing experience—Ps. 95:1-7a. We need to experience the 3 As of worship: AweAppreciation and Action.

We believe a lifestyle of praise is related to our good deeds, which people will see and give glory to God if those deeds are done with a worship attitude toward Christ—Matt. 5:16; 2 Cor. 9:12-15.

Church is people, not a building:

This is at the heart of our philosophy of ministry. In the formative stages of our church 19 years ago, we actually spent a whole weekend deciding whether our church was going to be a building, or whether it was going to be people. The implications of the decision to define the church as people are far-reaching (e.g., the money we have put into people/missions and not buildings for most of our church's life). Even when we have had to build a building, we called it a People and Facility building plan. You and I can't talk about the church apart from ourselves, e.g., "when is the church going to do this or that." You have met the church, and it is you!

Running the race marked out for us:

This, of course, is the motivation for our six-course RACE. As I have said many times, Scripture holds at least 32 references to run, running, or race. Since it was one of Paul's favorite metaphors to describe the Christian life, it should be one of ours as well—Heb. 12:1-3; 1 Cor. 9:24-36.

Every member a minister:

This concept is deeply rooted in the Reformation. Eph. 4:11-16 makes it very clear the job of the pastor/teacher is to equip/prepare saints for the work of the ministry. Ministry is not an option if you are part of the body of Christ. You and I each have a part to play—1 Cor. 12; 1 Pet. 4:11-12; Rom. 12:3-8.

Sending members across the street and around the world:

Hillcrest Chapel is a sending community at its very core. We see this in the 150+ people who have been/are in full-time ministry around the world. We also want this expression in the marketplace (e.g., Mike Roberts pastoring his business; my doctor, Greg Hipskind and others in the medical profession in our church; school teachers; ministry to immediate and extended family/neighbors/friends). We believe sending and outreach also flow from the healing we have received spiritually and physically— Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 1:3-4; John 4:39-42; 1 Pet. 3:15. Great ministry flows from great healing.

Teaching for application in life:

In the Greek culture, to know or to hear was the ultimate. In the Hebrew culture, a person didn't "know" until he/she actually "applied," or did, what they heard. Teaching today needs to be relevant and practical, not only because the culture demands it, but because Scripture demands it as well. A real danger in the Christian life is to become familiar with Scripture and yet fail to apply it personally—Matt. 7:24-27; Luke 11:28; James 1:22-25. Studying the Scripture can be dangerous if we don't apply it: it puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1)and leads to deception (James 1:22-24). It requires action and responsibility—James 4:17. This is a vital concept, not only for public teaching but also for personal Bible study and small group interaction.

Force in the world:

Basically, the church can be defined in two broad characterizations: the church as a force, or the church as a field. As we have already seen, the "church as a field" sees the church as a building; you come to church and you leave the church. We therefore define church as "a dynamic force of people, filled with the Spirit, meeting people's needs in Jesus' name." The church as a force recognizes the true meaning of the word "church" as "the called out ones." Scripture calls for the kingdom to advance forcefully if need be—Matt. 11:12.

Opening wide our hearts to one another:

Christian community calls for openness toward one another. It's possible that we could close our hearts to all but a few friends and not allow ourselves to be touched by the needs of those around us, even those in the Christian community.

On one occasion the Apostle Paul had to remind the Corinthians to open wide their hearts to him as he had been opening wide his heart to them. This seems to be an act of the will, rather than something we emotionally decide to do. Hear the call of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:13: "As a fair exchange, I speak as to my children, open wide your hearts also..."

Relationships through small groups:

In a large church, the only way a person can be adequately cared for is in a small group, which can promote fellowship and deep relationships—Acts 4:32; 20:36-28. At Hillcrest Chapel, deep and far-reaching relationships are built through our small groups. It should be noted that obedience to the "one another..." passages in Scripture can only be fulfilled through a small group—Rom. 12:7,10; 1 Cor. 12:25; Gal. 6:2; Eph. 4:32; 1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:24; James 5:16; 1 Pet. 4:10; 1 John 4:11. It should be obvious that a small group is necessary for our obedience, deep friendships, and fellowship.

Compassion-compelled community:

Our example for compassion is certainly our Lord. Jesus, immersed in the physical and spiritual needs of people, offered a powerful sermon to them about compassion—Matt. 9:35-10:5a. His mission is not motivated by His disgust for people because they are such sinners, but by what He sees and the compassion He feels. I love that! (Other examples of Jesus' compassion can be found in Matt. 14:14-17; 15:29-33; 19:13-14.) What causes such a reaction in Jesus? "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd."

What does Jesus see in these sheep-like people? He describes them as:

  • Harassed—walking with difficulty, mangled, flayed, lacerated, weary, exhausted
  • Helpless—to be cast down, thrown down
  • Like sheep without a shepherd—without guidance, direction, care.

Is this view of people obvious to you? Do people look like helpless sheep to you? Remember that a person can look together on the outside and yet be in this state on the inside. That's why we need to pray for eyes like our Lord's, because we just do not see as we should. Hillcrest people must pray that they might see!

Enabling structures to maximize ministry and minimize maintenance:

The most visionary person in the world needs to have enabling structures and management, or nothing will be accomplished. Structures, however, must not squelch or dictate vision. They must enable it and make it easy. That's what the word "facilitate" means.

In many churches, the structures are so complex, and the bureaucracy so extensive, that it is very difficult to get anything done. We hope our structure will enable people to be released in ministry and become as big as God intends.