Stages Up the H.I.L.L. -- Stage One
by Tom Goodman
July 14, 2011
We have to realize that people are at different stages in responding to God's call upon their life.
What's God's call? God made us to HONOR him, INVITE others to him, LOVE each other, and LIVE his Word. At our church we call that the "H.I.L.L." we're meant to climb. When we fulfill those purposes, we are fulfilled as human beings.
Now, when it comes to fulfilling those life purposes, people are at one of these stages:
Stage One: "I am exposed to the life purposes."
Stage Two: "I agree with the life purposes."
Stage Three: "I practice the life purposes."
Stage Four: "I advance the life purposes in others."
Let's look at Stage One. As we build relationships with lost and unchurched persons, we expose them to the life purposes.
At first, they get introduced to a better way of living as they simply watch us honor God, invite people to the Jesus way, love others, and live the precepts of the Word.
This happens in your neighborhood as you and other parents watch the kids at the neighborhood pool or cheer for the kids on the soccer sidelines. This happens in your workplace as you complete assignments and as you socialize.
Along the way, some of the people from your neighborhood or workplace accept your invitation to Hillcrest, and they get even wider exposure to the H.I.L.L. They see other believers working on the life purposes. They hear the challenges from the
sermons and small-group lessons. They sing along with songs that encourage us to practice the life purposes. Soon, they are asking questions, offering to help with a room setup, joining us as we put a roof on a house, or volunteering to take dinner
to a new friend in their small group who's been hospitalized. By this point they are deep in the process of finding Jesus among those who are following him.
That's why we say we want to be a church where Austin can find and follow Jesus together. Evangelism and discipleship can take place together: In fact, that's always been the way they were meant to happen.
How can we be a church filled with people who are finding Jesus among those who are following him?
Build relationships with your THEMs. There is no church advertising campaign or visitation program that can substitute for this. You have to identify the people in your own life that Jesus had in mind when he said, "Go and make THEM my
disciples" (Matthew 28). These are your "THEMs"!
Be what you are! You laugh at good jokes and cry at funerals. You're competitive on the golf course, and you're ambitious at work. You are a growing disciple who has successes and setbacks, firm convictions and honest questions. That's what
seekers need to see. Just handing them a tract won't do it. Sitting in a Bible study group with people too afraid to be real won't do it. They need to be exposed to the life purposes by spending time with people who are trying to live the life
purposes (Honor, Invite, Love, and Live).
Consciously connect. Whatever you lead or organize at church needs to be designed with everyone in mind: those who are finding Jesus as well as those who are following him. Whether it's a worship service you're leading or a Bible
study group, mission trip, or banquet you're planning, make sure that you envision it through the eyes of those who are brand new to this church thing.
Be patient with them. It will take a while for people at Stage One to become regular attenders at your event. There may be habits and lifestyle choice they aren't ready to lay down. The answers to some of the questions they raise may be
painfully self-evident to you, and yet they keep struggling with them. If we're really going to be a church where people find and follow Jesus together, patience is required.
Challenge them. Real friends challenge each other to deal with things that need to be addressed. You have to have patience, yes, but you also have to encourage them to take the next step with Jesus.
What's the next step? Those who are exposed to the life purposes must be encouraged to embrace them. We'll look at Stage Two in next week's LeaderLines. For now, ask God to show you your THEMs. There are neighbors, coworkers, relatives,
and friends whom you need to befriend and invite to church.
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