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Is 'Find and Follow Jesus Together' Sticky?
by Tom Goodman
October 8, 2009

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Hillcrest is a community of people finding and following Jesus together.

How "sticky" is that statement in the hallway conversations among Hillcrest members?

I'm reading the New York Times bestseller, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip and Dan Heath.  The first principle of sticky ideas is simplicity.  Not shallowness, but simplicity: packing a lot of meaning into a little bit of messaging.

"Hillcrest is a community of people finding and following Jesus together."  That's half the length allowed for a tweet, and yet there's a lot of meaning packed into it that statement: Finding... Following... Together.

"Finding Jesus" -- Doesn't everyone believe that a church should be a place where those who are curious about Jesus can find him?  Sadly, no.  Oh, every Christian I've met believes in personal evangelism -- well, at least in theory.  But few know or care about being deliberately mindful of spiritual outsiders at every church gathering.  It's different at Hillcrest:  We want to be a community where people with little or no background in Christianity feel "at home" from the moment they gather with us.  Passages like Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14:23 tell me that Hillcrest should expect non-believers to be present when we gather to worship the Name and study the Word.  Not only should we expect seekers to participate with us, what we do should intrigue them and even convict them.  Worship and Bible study are "for believers," yes, but not just for believers.  Hillcrest is a place to find Jesus, like the Greeks who came to Philip in John 12:21 saying, "We want to meet Jesus."

"Following Jesus" -- But Hillcrest isn't a "seeker" church where everything is designed simply to introduce nonbelievers to the faith.  What should nonbelievers see when they attend the ministries and activities of Hillcrest?  They should see people faithfully following Jesus.  We should be like the believers Paul commends in 2 Thessalonians 1:3, whose "faith is growing more and more."  So, we're a church where people challenge each other to (have you heard this before?) honor God, invite people to consider Jesus, love each other, and live the Word.  Every command in Scripture can be summarized in those four statements.

"Together" -- Don't leave out that word, "together."  We'll never be as effective alone as we will be together in our spiritual search or in our spiritual growth.  People figure out Christianity and grow in Christianity only as they discuss things together, challenge each other, pray with each other, and watch how others live the faith.  Neither our spiritual search nor our spiritual growth will go far unless it's done with others.

Some churches are very effective at helping people find Jesus, but they don't really focus on helping people grow once they've come to faith.  Other churches are very effective at helping people follow Jesus, but frankly they're uncomfortable with the issues and questions that seekers raise.  Our church needs to be where people can come together to meet Jesus and grow in him.

Tim Keller put this well in a lengthy interview for "The Cutting Edge" magazine.  Keller is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and I tend to read and listen to anything the man releases, because he's got a lot to say about what he calls "city-center churches" like Hillcrest.  Keller says:

In Acts 2 and 1 Cor. 14:23 we see non-believers attracted and challenged by worship.  We learn there that non-believers are expected in worship, and that non-believers must find worship challenging and comprehensible.  In city-centers where there are a mixture of world-views, it is crucial to include both Christians and non-Christians in the same service -- even in many of the other meetings and ministries of the church....  Why?  In a "mixed" group, when the preacher speaks somewhat more to non-Christians, the Christians present learn how to share the faith....  On the other hand, when the preacher speaks more to Christians, the non-Christians present come to see how Christianity "works."...  In short, a center-city church should not simply "do mission" or "do evangelism."  Every part of its ministry should be geared routinely both to Christians and non-Christians, and expecting non-Christians to be "overhearing" whatever is said and done in any context.

. . .

If you speak and discourse as if your whole neighborhood is present eventually more and more of your neighborhood will find their way in or be invited.  Why?  Most Christians, even when they are very edified in church, know intuitively that their non-Christian friends would not appreciate the service.  What you want is for a Christian to come to your church and say, "Oh!  I wish my non-Christian friend could see (or hear) this!"  If this is forgotten, soon even a growing church will be filled with Christians who commute in from various towns and communities far and wide rather than filling up with Christians and seekers from your church's immediate neighborhoods.

So, pray that Hillcrest becomes famous as a community of people finding and following Jesus together.  Pray for this vision to "stick" in our congregation.


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