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A History and Overview of The RACE

Hillcrest Chapel has been calling those who attend here to enter "The Race."

Where does the Race come from in Scripture? How did it get started? Paul gave Timothy a number of specific meditations and reflections upon which he wanted his young disciple to reflect. As part of that meditation, Paul encouraged Timothy to reflect on the competitive nature of an athlete, and concluded the list of potential reflections with this promise from 2 Tim. 2:7—"Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this." I have certainly found this to be true.

Great insight comes from reflecting on all Paul is saying to Timothy and, in particular, his encouragement to meditate on the competitive nature of an athlete. Before we do this, let me tell you why this specific reflection is very important to me.

 

As I was praying the prayers of the Chalk Revival (see The History and Future of the Chalk Revival), I began to have not only a profound repentance and cleansing of my own heart, but an increasing burden for the lost and for the maturity of believers. In my study of revivals, I have discovered that this is an outgrowth of any renewal. I believe the Word mandates not only that we reach the lost, but that all new, young, and even older believers continue to grow and mature in the faith until death.

So I began praying and looking in the Scriptures for a metaphorical picture of a maturity program both biblical and easy for all to grasp, whether new believer, young believer, or one seasoned in the faith. In answer to those prayers and that search, I was impressed with the numerous references in Scripture to running a race and finishing a race. There are at least 37 passages in the Old and New Testaments that refer to the race, the runner, running, or run!

Running was certainly one of Paul's favorite examples and metaphors for the Christian life. It was probably a very familiar sport to those who were recipients of all the gospels and the New Testament letters. One of the key verses concerning The Race is found in Heb. 12:1-3.

1] 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.

It is obvious the key phrase is v. 1b—"...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." As I meditated on this passage, the following became my prayer: "By God’s grace, may all those who attend Hillcrest Chapel enter this spiritual race, and run with perseverance The Race marked out for us, and may we all finish The Race well."

What is involved in The Race?

The Race involves five "C's":

  1. The Cloud or Crowd watching The Race. "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses..." The crowds are the former and maybe even current runners, those who have run before us and are our examples. This crowd of witnesses can be our heroes or inspiration; or a negative example of how not to run.

  2. The Clothes we will need to throw off for The Race. "...let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles..." If we are to run well, we need to take off the clothes that trip us up. If we don't get into the proper clothes, we won't run very long. We'll end up flat on our face a few feet out of the starting block.

  3. The Course for our Race. "...and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." This is not a course of our choosing, but a Race marked out for us by someone else. Since many want to run their own race and ignore The Race already marked out, they end up running and finishing the wrong race. As I looked at The Race marked out for us individually and collectively, there began to be birthed in me a Race strategy. I believe The Race the Lord has marked out for Hillcrest will, in part, be enhanced by a six-session RACE course.

    My favorite graphic for The Race is one we designed as a takeoff of the Olympic rings, and shows the sequence of each course. The first three are sequential, while the latter three can be completed in any order. Each course will have a Hillcrest confession attached to it. Our objective is to get everyone to complete all six courses, and to make the personal, spiritual commitments involved in each.

    An Overview of Courses 100-600Course 100: Establishing The Congregation for Membership

    This course will focus on a membership commitment to Christ and to Hillcrest Chapel. The commitment is to phase one of our membership at Hillcrest Chapel: not formal membership, but a spiritual connection called "Confessional Partners. "

    Eph. 2:19—"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household."

    We will also discuss our starting points (history); our strategy as a church; our salvation; and our structure as a church.

    Course 200: Equipping The Committed for Maturity

    In this course we focus on a maturity commitment to the spiritual exercises and habits necessary for spiritual growth. Second Peter 3:18 says, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen." Hebrews 6:1 urges us, "let us...go on to maturity..."

    Our desire is that all who attend Hillcrest Chapel will be people who are strong and growing in their Christian faith. In Course 200, we will teach you how to spiritually feed yourself nourishing, exciting meals; how to exercise spiritually; and how to cook for others. This course will help you get in better spiritual shape so you can run The Race with perseverance and finish well.

    Course 300: Enlisting The Core For Ministry

    The purpose of this course is to enable us to make a ministry commitment to discover, develop, and deploy our God-given gifts and abilities in serving God and others. 1 Pet. 4:11—"If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

    There are already 250+ committed believers enlisted to be involved in ministry in and through our church. They are the leaders, workers, Sunday School teachers, musicians, ushers, the people who run the children's ministries, etc. Each ministry of Hillcrest Chapel has a number of people involved in it. Some ministries have been initiated by the staff, and others have come from good ideas that people have for ministry. We intend to set up a clear track for the recognition and development of ministries here at Hillcrest Chapel, beyond what we currently have.

    Part of the process of the 300 Course is a STEPS survey, a new process we will have each person take. We will then sit down with you for an interview. We will help you find a ministry in keeping with the particular STEPS God has in mind for you: Spiritual Gifts, Temperament, Experience, Passion, and Sacred Pathway.

    Those who currently serve in these core capacities but have not taken the 100, 200 and 300 courses, are encouraged to take them along with all those who might be new in the church. It is our desire that everyone run on the same track. It is important to also know that each course represents the beginning of subsequent training and ministry opportunities that will flow from the initial course.

    We want people to get involved in service, because these are the folks who really make the church run, and who have discovered great joy and fulfillment in their Christian lives. Our prayer for you is that you will move into the core of ministering people at Hillcrest.

    Course 400: Evangelizing the Crowd/Community in the Marketplace and Ministries

    The focus of this course is to equip people in the marketplace to a commitment of "sharing" the Good News with others in their community and local sphere of influence.

    1 Pet. 3:15—"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect..."

    Our goal is to evangelize those in the crowd (in the church gathered) who are pre-Christians; and those friends, neighbors, extended family members, etc., to whom we can be salt and light as our church is scattered into the community. Course 400 will recognize the strategic placement each of us has; and rather than turning everyone into "flaming evangelists," we hope to help maximize existing contacts and relationships with family, friends and acquaintances. For those gifted and called to an exceptional expression of evangelism, we will provide options and opportunities for expanded ministry.

    Course 500: Expanding the Commission's Mission

    The focus will be to enable us to make a missions commitment to "be a world Christian," continually praying and giving as we are able, for the expansion of the gospel around the world.

    Acts 1:8—"...and you will be my witnesses...to the ends of the earth." The commission represents the continually expanding ministry/mission of all believers, and our commission as a church. We liken this course unto the marathon: running long and running steady. Therefore, we want to find out how we can touch the world together and individually. Various perspectives on missions across the street and around the world will be discussed.

    1. Short term mission opportunities for those with various vocations, family units, skills, interests and calling will be presented
    2. Our hunger projects around the world will be updated
    3. Ideas for being involved in evangelism opportunities with foreign students and immigrants in Whatcom County will be outlined
    4. New reports on our ministry to the "U" people will be given
    5. Prayer opportunities for nations, intercessions for particular missionaries will be presented
    6. Teaching on God's character and heart for the world will be given

    Course 600: Exalting Christ in Music and Media

    The music/media commitment is to grow in our "worship/devotional life" and to live a "lifestyle of praise."

    Psalm 95:6-7a—6] "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; 7a] for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care."

    Matt. 5:16—"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."


    Why would we ask everyone to be committed to these courses? We become what we are committed to. If we want our lives to count, it will be better for you and me to be committed to a few things, rather than many. Remember, the church is God's idea: His body, His family. It deserves more than our half-hearted commitment.


  4. The Character needed for The Race. "...run with perseverance..." This is a Race that cannot be run or maintained by human strength. It requires supernatural perseverance and help.

    The final "C" of The Race is the most important:

  5. The Coach for The Race. 2] "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...3] Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." There is only one Coach who knows The Race. He's already run it. Only Jesus can coach us through to a good finish, a victory.We must be sure we have chosen Christ as our Coach, and be prepared to listen to His instruction. He is the One who will make The Race possible and enjoyable.

 

I encourage you to join me and the rest of the Hillcrest team in The Race of a lifetime.

Ps. 119:32--"I run in the path of your commands (rules),
for you have set my heart free."