Where is the Church?

Where is the Church?

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, May 26, 2016

Every week or so, I have a conversation that goes something like this:

Person: “So, what do you do?”

Me: “I am a pastor at Highland Hills.”

Person: “Where is your church?”

Me: “It is in the North Highland and Shirley Hills neighborhoods. I know… we are the hardest church to find in Macon, but Highland Hills is worth the drive.”

“Where is your church?” is a question that has lingered with me. In a very real sense, our church resides at 1370 Briarcliff Rd. I must concede that for first-time guests our church campus may be a little hard to find. Once they find our campus, most people remark about the beautiful grounds and the stately architecture. I recently overheard a guest describe our church as a “secret garden paradise.” It is that. But Highland Hills is more than brick and mortar and well-placed azaleas. Highland Hills is you. You are the church. That means that the church is harder to find than you think. In the book of Matthew, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” You are the church. Which means that the Church isn’t bound by our campus on Briarcliff. The Church exists wherever you gather in Christ’s name to carry out the mission of the church. That means sometimes the Church really has left the building.

The church leaves the building on Monday morning as Leah Leverett and Eugenia Espy deliver flowers from Sunday’s service to those homebound or in nursing homes. The church leaves the building throughout the week as deacons visit their families, and as Linda Browne bakes bread out of kindness. In those moments, they are the church, and the church shows up all over Macon offering care and beauty and presence.

Sometimes the church leaves Macon and heads off for other cities. Soon our youth will take Highland Hills on the road from Macon to Aiken to Greenville and back. They too are the church when they travel in the name of Christ bringing a new song into new cities. We will join with them at FBCX on June 5 at 6 p.m. for their summer concert. 

The Church leaves the building when our children go to camp. At camp, faith is formed through a dedicated time for stories and experiences that train the next generation of church leaders.

The Church leaves the building on our summer mission trip. Mission Macon will take the church out of the building in service to our community as teams of members from Highland Hills work and serve our neighbors across Bibb County. We will begin by leaving our comfort zones through the C.O.P.E. experience on Sunday, June 12. As you gather and serve your neighbor in Christ’s name, you are the church.

The Church leaves the building as our Men’s prayer group caravans to Jeneane’s as members meet weekly for conversation and care. They too are the church.

This summer we will have more opportunities than ever to be the Church together, both here on our campus in our sanctuary and out there across Macon. We will gather in Amerson River Park and invite all our friends and neighbors to join us. We will gather for prayer circles and grief groups and book studies, each offering the opportunity for the church to show up.

You would be surprised just where Highland Hills shows up. Highland Hills is even harder to find than I first thought, and that is a good thing.

Macon Plans

Macon Plans

By Cass DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, May 19, 2016

As many of you know, I’m a planner. Just ask the youth and Sanctuary Choir. Even as I write this article, I’m making my final plans for this summer’s worship services, youth trips, and other activities for the church and my family.

God's Emojis of Love

God's Emojis of Love

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, May 12, 2016

I have always wanted to be fluent in more than one language. Sadly, Spanish 101 happened a long time ago, so besides ordering a bowl of soup at El Som you won’t find me conversing "en Espanol." The only other languages I know are dead languages and not many people want to talk about parsing the Greek or plucking a Hebrew verbal form.

From the Pastor's Playlist: Moving from Head to Heart

From the Pastor's Playlist: Moving from Head to Heart

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, May 8, 2016

I don’t know if this happens to you, but it happens to me all the time. A song burrows its way into my head like an earworm and gets stuck in a loop. For weeks in random moments, both quiet and quite busy, I hear it like background noise. For the past few weeks, two artists have dominated my inner soundtrack, the cast recording of “Hamilton” and Rain for Root’s “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This.” Our own, Matt Moncrief, brought one of their songs to life during our Worship Service in the amphitheater last week.

Here is the Church. There goes the Church.

Here is the Church. There goes the Church.

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, April 28, 2016

Do you remember how to do this?

First, you say, “Here is the church.” (fold your hands with fingers inside) Then you show off the steeple. “Here is the steeple.” (put index fingers up to form the steeple of the church) Now, “Open the doors.” (move your thumbs apart to see inside the church) Now for the grand finale, “And see all the people.” (show fingers inside, moving around) 

Spiritual Peers

Spiritual Peers

By Ruth DuCharme

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, April 21, 2016

Once a month, I gather with five other ministers at Vineville Methodist Church for the single purpose of encouragement. We call our gathering a Spiritual Peer Group, and we are bound together because we are each busy, middle-aged ministers who find contemplative prayer meaningful, silence rewarding, and companionship necessary.

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, April 14, 2016

It’s that time of year, a time to prune the hedges and trim the trees, a time to de-clutter the closets and to empty the junk drawer of all of the accumulated… well, junk. If your house is like mine, then it is time for spring cleaning. As you take inventory of your household, how do you decide what goes and what stays? The difference between trash and treasure can be difficult to determine. What questions do you ask to determine if an item is a family heirloom or a goodwill gift?

Gone Fishin'

Gone Fishin'

By Jake Hall

published in Family Matters eNewsletter, April 7, 2016

I have seen those signs for years in gifts shops or the lobby at Cracker Barrel. They are fun, decorative and kitschy, expressing some variation of "I'd rather be fishing." Until recently, every time I saw those signs I thought, “Not me.”