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.