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Stages Up the H.I.L.L. -- Stage Three
by Tom Goodman
July 28, 2011

My vision for our church is that we be a place where people can find and follow Jesus together.  And leaders at a church where people find and follow Jesus together will recognize that people are at one of four stages in relation to these life purposes:

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."

What are these "life purposes"?  God made us to honor him, invite others to him, love each other, and live his Word.  At our church we call that our "H.I.L.L." to climb.  When we fulfill those purposes, we are fulfilled as human beings.

I've been writing about these stages in LeaderLines for several weeks.  You can read previous entries here.  Let's review:

Someone at Stage One is being exposed to the H.I.L.L. we're meant to climb:  She catches a vision of the way life could be as she spends time with believers -- in structured Hillcrest activities as well as informal social occasions.  In our edition of LeaderLines two weeks ago we looked at how we leaders can help people at Stage One.

Someone at Stage Two agrees with the life purposes:  She accepts Christ's offer of forgiveness, commits to the path he wants her to walk, and she formally connects with the Hillcrest community through membership.  In last week's edition of LeaderLines we looked at how leaders can help people at this stage.

Now, as Hillcrest leaders, we need to make sure that those who express a commitment to climb the H.I.L.L. get all the help and encouragement they need to make the upward trek.  That's our work with people at Stage Three.

Here are four ways to do this:

Set the Example.  In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul wrote, "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ."  As a Hillcrest leader, can you say that yet?  More important, does it bother you if you can't?  Whatever your position -- deacon, staff member, Common Ground host, Sunday School teacher -- you set an example whether you want to or not.  So, be sure to set an example worth following.

Pray.  When Paul wrote the Colossian Christians, he commented on one of their leaders who was visiting him in prison:  "Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings.  He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured" (Colossians 4:12).  When was the last time you "wrestled in prayer" for those you lead?

In my 20s, just starting out in ministry, I found all the pastoral prayers in the New Testament, wrote them on index cards, and memorized them.  What a difference it would make if all of us as leaders prayed for those at Hillcrest like Paul prayed for his people!  Listen to his heart in Philippians 1:9-11, for example...

And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ -- to the glory and praise of God.

Evaluate the Program.  We should use the H.I.L.L. acrostic to regularly evaluate the kind of program we provide at Hillcrest.  Are we consciously, deliberately providing activities, studies, and opportunities for people to learn how to...

  • honor God with their worship, prayers, and stewardship?
  • invite their world into a better life?
  • love each other more and more?
  • live the Bible in all it's practical goodness?

Exercise Church Discipline.  As church leaders, we need put Galatians 6:1 into practice:  "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently."  From time to time, our staff has had to quietly go to some people and remove them from leadership and service for a season.  It's not pleasant, but it's biblical.  If you are in a position of influence, you may have to do the unpleasant work of reprimanding someone.  Don't neglect this essential, biblical work of church leadership.

Another part of leadership is identifying growing Christians with the aim of pulling them into positions of leadership and influence.  We'll look at how to get people to Stage Four in next week's LeaderLines.  For now, pray for the spiritual development of our people, since the greatest "advertisement" our church could ever have is the transformed lives of our people.


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