LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“It’s All About What God Says and Those God Loves”
by Tom Goodman
February 24, 2005

For several weeks of LeaderLines, I’ve talked about imitating Christ’s preaching style.  I’ll return to that next week.  Today I want to give you a recap of last Sunday’s message about our church’s vision.  To hear the full message, go to Click here.
In last week’s Austin-American Statesman, I read an article about home renovation.  According to the report, last year Americans spent almost a quarter-trillion dollars on home remodeling, giving a new look to kitchens and ceilings and more closet space and so on.  The article featured an Austin home builder and remodeler who said his business was up 35 to 40 percent and he expected that his work orders next year would go up that much again.  A researcher for the National Association of Home Builders predicts the national home improvement market will grow about five percent annually during the next 10 years.

So, renovation is a hot topic, and I believe God wants to do some exciting renovation here at Hillcrest.

Now, most of the time when we think of renovation, we think of a building: an improved kitchen, a larger master bedroom, and so on.  So you might think that when I’m talking about renovation at Hillcrest, I’m talking about our building.  But God is taking us through three stages here:  The renovation of our heart, the renovation of our program, and the renovation of our space.  In other words he’s working on what we value, what we do, and how we look.

Last year we worked a lot on the renovation of our heart, and I think we can turn more of our attention to the second thing God wants us remodeling: our program.  When we talk about our program, we’re talking about what we do—our activities, our routines, the way we teach, and so on.  Not everything about what we do needs to be remodeled, but some of it does.

Now, how do we decide the activities and the styles and the approaches that will reach a new generation with the gospel?

To get your message right, you look at what God says;
to get your methodology right, you look at those God loves.

It’s all about God.  As Hillcrest works on the renovation of what we do, it’s not about gimmicks, it’s not about copying some other church, it’s not about labels, it’s not even about keeping up with the times.  Don’t let anyone tell you it’s about any of those things.  It’s all about God.  When you’re doing mission work, you never take your eyes off the two things that are important to God.  You pay attention to what he says and you pay attention to those he loves.

We make church work so complicated, but it’s really just a matter of answering two questions.  Everything I’ve ever learned in seminary, everything I’ve ever learned in conferences and workshops, everything I’ve ever learned in books about church work—let me summarize it all for you.  It’s all about two questions.

We ask first, “What’s our message?  What should we communicate?  What should we get across to our world?  What do they need to know?”  For an answer, we look at what God has said in his unchanging Word.  God’s Word has everything our world needs to know about parenting, finding a mate, overcoming grief, dealing with addictions, everything our world needs to know about heaven and how to get there, and the list could go on.  To get your message right, you look at what God says.

But being on mission involves a second question: “How do we get that message across to our world?  What activities should we do?  What methods should we use?”  For that answer, we look at those God loves, we look at those for whom Christ died.  An on-mission church is made up of people who know the World as well as they know the Word.  We need to know the people around us:  We need to know their hurts and their fears; we need to know how they learn: is it through books and long lectures or is it through multisensory approaches?  What makes them laugh?  What are their assumptions about Church and their misconceptions about Jesus?  When you understand that, then you figure out how to present the Word to them in ways they can understand.

It’s all about God: we figure out our message by focusing on what God says; we figure out our methodology by focusing on those God loves.

God is busy renovating our methodology here.  The staff is praying and studying and discussing what we do; the deacons are, too; so are the children’s workers and youth workers and music leadership and Bible study leaders.  And it’s a scary and exciting time that forces us to depend entirely on God.  I hope you’ll continue to keep our leadership in prayer as we look for the best way to get God’s word to the world he loves!


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