By Brett Younger
What are the essentials that make us God's church living out God's hopes? Your list might be different from mine, but here are five activities that I think have to take place for there to be a church-worship, education, ministry, evangelism, and fellowship.
The Spirit is present in worship when we realize that God is watching to see what we will do when the choir offers a call to follow Jesus and we hear God calling, when we sing a hymn that takes us back or takes us forward, when we hear scripture that was written for us, when we share the bread and cup and genuinely want to be family. Those moments when we are the church do not begin with us, but with God.
This is just as true in Christian education and discipleship. We have 18 classes and 45 teachers at a time when many churches are abandoning Sunday School. We have committed teachers in every age group who love God, scripture, and the people in their classes. Some of us grew up in churches that taught us facts about the Bible, but never focused on teaching us how to act more like Christ. Our ideas about education are important, but remembering that God's idea is that we become more like Christ is essential.
If we worship by giving ourselves to God, if we grow in our faith, then we will minister in Christ's name. We minister because we are the church, because God commands us to care for the least of these. We share in ministries like LifeSpring. We go on mission trips to West Virginia. We serve in Vacation Bible School. We let God make us the church.
Evangelism is central to Highland Hills. We need to reach out to those who are single, married, young families, old families, senior adults, people with Baptist backgrounds and anything but Baptist backgrounds, children who grew up at Highland Hills, children who did not grow up in any church, lawyers, teachers, and librarians. We have friends who need a community of grace, who need the hope of Christ.
When we do as the Spirit leads, we become a family. Our church calendar tells the story of friends who want to spend time together-committee meetings, Wednesday night suppers, Taize worship, prayer breakfasts, choir practice, and spirituality groups. At the heart of all of our activities is the opportunity to be church for one another.
We do not love one another because it is a good idea. We love one another because it is God's idea. Christ is at work at Highland Hills.