LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"Stages Up the H.I.L.L."
by Tom Goodman
April 6, 2007

We’ve been discussing the Hillcrest vision in Leaderlines.  Two weeks ago, I summarized our mission in this way: “Hillcrest is to be a place where northwest Austin can find and follow Jesus together.”

Last week I showed how we can be a church that can (and should) reach seekers and develop believers in the same services and ministries.  It’s all about pointing people to the life purposes we’re all meant to fulfill.  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.  So, explaining those purposes is the way we help people find Jesus and the way we help people follow Jesus.

So, finding Jesus and following him can be done together.  But as I closed last week’s LeaderLines, I pointed out that the only way that can happen is if we accept wherever someone’s “at” while we encourage them to reach the next level.

Did you catch the two verbs?  Accept.  Encourage.  To fulfill our vision, we have to put both into practice.

When it comes to fulfilling our life purposes (climbing the H.I.L.L.—honor, invite, love, and live), people are at one of the following 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.”

If we’re a church where people are finding and following Jesus together, all of us will be at a different stage.  But notice again: no matter what stage a person is at, we must turn their attention to the discipleship H.I.L.L. that we are meant to climb!

Stage One:
As we build relationships with lost and unchurched persons, we expose them to the life purposes.  Through the music and the lessons at church—and through the example we set with our own lives—they get exposed to the inspiring life Christ is calling them into.
Stage Two:
As they make their commitment to Christ and to our church, we lead them to agree with the life purposes.  At this stage, they are simply saying, “I commit my life to Christ as his disciple: I pledge to pursue his vision for my life.”
Stage Three:
Here people work through the joys and struggles of putting the life purposes into practice.
Stage Four: 
Christ expected us to influence others for him.  We need to nudge others to embrace Christ and to climb the discipleship H.I.L.L.

Most of you receiving LeaderLines are at Stage Four.  Of course, moving from one stage to another doesn’t mean you abandon the work of the previous stages.  Even though I’ve been at Stage Four for many years, I’m still exposed to the life purposes as I watch the inspiring examples of great disciples around me (Stage One); I still agree with the life purposes—and sometimes have to renew my commitment to Christ (Stage Two); I will never come to a point where I’m not growing in my ability to practice the life purposes (Stage Three).  But Christ calls all disciples to influence others who need to find and follow Jesus, and that’s the stage many of us have reached (Stage Four).

In the next four editions of LeaderLines, I’ll go into more detail about each of these four stages and how we serve people who are at each one.

I’m getting this e-newsletter out a day late, so on this Good Friday let me send this out with a prayer:  May God use this day to remind you of the costly sacrifice he paid to bring you to himself!  We love Easter celebrations at our church, but its Christ’s pain and anguish we remember on Good Friday.  Stop and remember with an awestruck, grateful heart.


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