Triad Disaster Relief

As many of you know, the storm that came through the Triad a couple weeks back, left a wake of damage, including: homes, schools, and even churches. As a response to the need we want to love our community and share the love of Christ by helping those that were affected by this storm. Jesus tells us that the greatest two commandments are to love God and love our neighbors (Mark 12:30-31). Right now we have such an opportunity as a church to do both of those!

Here are two ways that we want to mobilize as a church to respond to the needs of our community. I want to challenge you to do each of these things below:

1. DONATE

This weekend, at every service and all three campuses, we will be collecting donations. Each disaster relief organization that we have talked to expressed this as an immediate need still. There will be a tent at the entrance of each campus with an A-frame sign that says “Disaster Relief” where you can drop off the donation.

Items needed:
1. Water and Gatorade
2. Tarps (for temporary roof covering)
3. Rubber or Work Gloves
4. Plywood (for windows)
5. Heavy-duty Contractor Trash Bags

2. SERVE

We are partnering with Baptists On Mission to volunteer with the clean-up and relief effort. Over the next couple of weeks and even months they will be on the ground throughout our community pulling limbs, cutting trees, and picking up debris in the areas hardest hit. We hope to see many individuals and Community Groups tangibly serving over the next couple of weeks. I want to encourage every person that is part of Mercy Hill to serve in this capacity at least once over the next couple weeks.

It is simple, just go to the website and sign yourself or Community Group up to serve.

Lastly, as a church let’s make sure to be praying for our community and those that have been affected by the storm. Let’s pray that the churches in our community will come together to physically love our city and to share the hope of the gospel as we serve. Please feel free to share this blog and help spread the word.

In Christ,
Andrew Hopper

Test Drive Your New Community Group Today!

I don’t know many people that enjoy the process associated with buying a car. Sure, there are a few out there who love a tense, back and forth negotiation, but for most of us, the thought of even stepping onto a car lot can cause quite a bit of anxiety. No one knows this more than car dealerships, and over the past few years, it has been very easy to see them take steps to make car buying as hassle free as possible. Accompanying their efforts is the rise in popularity of numerous magazines, websites, and apps specifically designed to take the guess work and anxiety out of the experience. One of those resources, Car and Driver magazine, lists four things that every potential car buyer should do as they prepare to make a purchase.

  • Do Your Homework
  • Get Acquainted
  • Go for a Spin
  • Reflect on Your Drive

While I know that you are not coming to the Mercy Hill blog to get car-buying advice, these four steps coincide with what we are asking you to do as you select a new Community Group. On Wednesday nights in March, at all three campuses, we will be hosting a hassle-free, no-obligation-to-buy event we call Starter Groups. At each of these four meetings, we will give you the chance to:

Do Your Homework

Learn what a Community Group at Mercy Hill is like. Each meeting is led by either your campus pastor or one of the church elders. We will explain why Community Groups are such a big deal at Mercy Hill; simulate what a Community Group looks like by participating in fellowship (light refreshments provided), Bible study, and prayer; and answer any questions that you may have about joining a Community Group.

Get Acquainted

You will get the opportunity to meet others at your campus who are also wanting to learn about joining a Community Group. Many times, we see people who attend the four Starter Group meetings together end up becoming good friends and joining the same Community Group. You will also get to meet church leaders who are there to cheer you on in the journey.

Go for a Spin

Starter Groups is set up to give you the experience of a Community Group. After attending, you will have a better idea of what we mean when we say, “Discipleship happens in community.”

Reflect on Your Drive

Because our next Community Group launch event (Grouplink) does not happen until May 4th, Starter Groups will give you a chance to experience a Community Group atmosphere and then prepare to make the jump into a group one month later. Once you attend Starter Groups, you will have all the information you need to make the best Community Group selection to fit your needs.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up today to test drive your new Community Group at Starter Groups. To make sure that you don’t miss out on this opportunity, click here to register. While starting something new can make you just as nervous as buying a new car, we promise that we are not nearly as intimidating as a car salesman.

Disclaimer: No offense is intended to any car salesmen that attend Mercy Hill Church. I am sure that you are an exception to the stereotype of your profession that I used in this post. If you will forgive me, I’ll throw in a free registration to Starter Groups.

-Jonathan Spangler (Community Groups Director)

Young Lives Is Life Giving: A Testimonial

The following is a story and testimony from Ashley Kiser, a mentor and team leader at Young Lives. Young Lives is an organization that seeks to mentor, support, and care for teen moms while introducing them to Jesus, the one who can truly meet all their needs.

I first met Jadah through the social worker at Dudley High School when she was a junior. She was seventeen years old and four months pregnant. She is the oldest child in her family and had been kicked out of her house when her mom found out she was pregnant. After two or three meetings together, she confided in me that she was terrified. She knew abortion was not an option, but she did not know how she was going to care for this child. (She is so brave; she choose life.) After going through her options for support from family members and the father of the child, we quickly realized she had very few. So, we discussed adoption. She was very open to the idea and met with me and an adoption counselor, but after talking with friends, they convinced her that they would help her raise the child.

June of 2016

Brayden was born. He was so little and Jadah was so in love. Visiting her in the hospital she looked at me with tears in her eyes, saying, “I could not imagine giving my child away.” At this point she had gotten into stable housing with her aunt and the paternal grandmother had offered to help. She had a plan and was now trying to give her child the best that she could while also figuring out how to survive daily struggles on her own.

Young Lives Was There

Jadah never missed a Wednesday night at Young Lives. We would open the Bible together and struggle through the hard questions of life like why do bad things happen and does God really hear my prayers? After spending a week at a Young Life camp with Brayden and the leaders, Jadah decided to give her life to Jesus. She is confident that he is the only one who will give her hope when she feels like there is no hope anywhere else in her world.

This last August marks the one-year anniversary of giving her life over to Jesus. Brayden is fifteen months now, and I wish I could tell you that her life has had a dramatic change for good, but that would not be entirely true. What is true is that her view of God has changed, learning what he has to say about her life and what he has to say about her. For her to be successful in the world’s eyes, she has major battles to hurdle. She is battling these struggles little by little—with some mistakes—by replacing the lies she believes with the truth about God.

Moving Forward

Jadah has made another brave decision to leave Greensboro and join the Navy. She leaves in February, and I was talking with her last week about Brayden. While she knows this is her best option to provide for her son, she is committed to making the best plan for Brayden while she is in basic training.

Jadah’s story is not finished. She has a lot of hard decisions to make. But she would say that because of Young Lives she knows she is not making these decisions alone. She has Jesus.

Young Lives Doesn’t Just Effect These Moms

If I am honest, when I first started with Young Lives two years ago, I was not sure I was going to like it. I thought it would be depressing. I did not see any hope in the lives of some of these girls. But now I am convinced more than ever that the Young Lives mentors are light in dark places where there seems to be no one else bearing light. Committing to pray for Jadah and Brayden has burdened my heart. They are now a part of my life, and it matters to me that they are okay. Isn’t this what it means to be a part of God’s family? When our families are broken, we are invited into the greater family of God to fill in the gaps.

While the sacrifices my family and I choose to make to spend time with these girls have felt big, we have also benefited. It is not easy to leave my family with two young children at 5:30 pm on Wedensday nights where chaos of two small children abounds. But when I get home, I am different. I have experienced a holy place where many girls who experience shame and guilt have gotten to experience the truth about Jesus Christ. While I might not have been a teen mom myself, I have experienced the emotions of shame, guilt, and rejection. I might not be able to relate in the specific circumstances, but I can relate in the feelings that point us to our greater need for what Jesus did on the cross. Choosing to spend a few hours of my week with teen moms is worth it. Jadah and Brayden are worth it.

There are a lot of ways to get plugged into Young Lives. We need mentors, meals, babysitters, money, and prayer! If you want specifics in any of these areas, please feel free to reach out to Ashley Kiser at Kiserash@gmail.com.

-Ashley Kiser (Mercy Hill Member & Young Lives Mentor)

September Serve Week Recap

Last week, Mercy Hill Community Groups intentionally partnered with ministries, schools, and organizations throughout the Triad in a quarterly event that we call Serve Week. Our goals for these events are below:

  1. To mobilize groups to be a blessing to those who are in the trenches of community engagement on a daily basis
  2. To raise awareness about opportunities to support these organizations on an ongoing basis
  3. To see relationships formed that focus on sharing and growing in the gospel.

As you read through this recap, we ask that you praise the Lord for the work that has been done and ask him for more opportunities in the future.

  • Hope Academy – renovation projects including painting, building lockers for students, and creating a clothing closet for those in need
  • Jackson Middle School – classroom renovation projects including painting, cleaning, and organizing. Teacher appreciation breakfast
  • Freedom House – sorting clothes at the thrift store, cleaning, and maintenance projects at the home
  • Hannah’s Haven – fellowship events with the ladies at the recovery home
  • Act Together – fellowship events with the kids in the foster home
  • One Child’s Voice – packing diaper bags for kids being placed in foster care
  • Guilford County Jail Ministry – learning about how to volunteer at the jail. Loving on current GCJM volunteers
  • Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center – facility maintenance and cleaning
  • Out of the Garden – sorting and packing food
  • Backpack Beginnings – collecting canned food, sorting, and packing food
  • Young Lives – diaper drives for young moms, playing with the babies so that the moms can attend group
  • Hospice Homes (multiple) – blessing families of patients
  • NC State Employees Home – blessing families of patients
  • Salem Pregnancy Care Center – cleaning and painting
  • American Red Cross Blood Drive – organizing a blood drive at Mercy Hill
  • College Campus Focus – serving on and through the campuses that Mercy Hill students attend
  • World Relief – building furniture shelves to maximize space in the storage warehouse

…and more!

It is impossible to fully explain all that was done this past week. Almost 100 groups served in some capacity which equated to approximately 2,000 man hours of ministry in the Triad. Click here to go to our Facebook page for a photo album showing our groups in action. We pray that these projects will lead to deep relationships. In addition to these photos, you can search the hashtag #MHServeWeek on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram to see other groups’ serve experiences. If you would like to learn more about how you can serve with one of our partner organizations beyond Serve Week, please contact Jonathan Spangler at jspangler@mercyhillgso.com.

-Jonathan Spangler (Community Groups Coordinator – Community Ministry)

A Church Of Community Groups: Why You Should Come to College Connect

 

Welcome back students! Every year, thousands of college students converge in the Triad to attend the many colleges and universities in the area. We, as a church, love college students and see you as a valuable part of our church.

If you are just coming around Mercy Hill for the first time, I encourage you to jump in with us. This Sunday we will be hosting College Connect–an event all about connecting college students to Mercy Hill Church through Community Groups. At Mercy Hill, we are not a church that does groups, but a church of groups— groups are a big deal! So, when we say we want you connected to Mercy Hill, we mean we want you connected to a group.

The reason why groups are a big deal is because discipleship is a big deal. Discipleship, simply defined, is word taught and life caught. If you are newer to Christianity, discipleship is about a life that conforms to the teachings and commands of Jesus. However, Jesus didn’t just give us an example to follow or a set of rules to keep. Jesus came and lived the very life that we should have lived and died the death that we deserve, so that we might be reconciled back to God. Jesus did all these things in our place for our sin (rebellion against God). This is what we call the gospel (it means good news), and it shapes every single aspect of our lives. Discipleship is about conforming to the teachings and commands of Jesus, but the power and motivation to live into those things comes from what Jesus did in our place, the gospel. Discipleship is centered around the gospel.

We don’t simply need to be taught more information–although there are many things to learn–but we need to be immersed, like when you are trying to learn a foreign language. Students, if you want to learn more about what it means to be a Christian or you want to grow in your faith, then you need to jump into community because discipleship happens in community.

This is why College Connect is all about connecting you to a Community Group. We have groups all over the Triad and, without a doubt, there is a group near you! So please check out our College Connect page and sign-up for a group today!

–Jon Sheets (College Ministry Director)

 

You’re Invited: MH Students Fall Kickoff

There is something unique about the start of a new year that often brings a great deal of excitement. I remember as a student, from elementary well into my teens, I would lay restlessly in my bed awaiting the morning of the first day of school. With my new outfit laid out (this was before the fad of school uniforms), my new school shoes, my new bookbag, and my new school supplies, it seemed like morning would never come. The excitement of the new year also brought a time of personal reflection and goal setting. As a student this usually meant new friends and good grades. This was also true for me as a teacher. Each new year brought with it a fresh excitement and anticipation of what was to come.

The Mercy Hill student ministry team and I share a similar feeling regarding the MH Students Kickoff that is closely approaching. With a new name, new logo, new night of the week, and new location, the team eagerly awaits the first night of student ministry for the 2017-2018 school year. The beginning of this new year has allowed us to reflect on what God has done and set big goals for what we want to see God do within the students of Mercy Hill.  

So if you are a student reading this blog, here are a few thoughts for you…

Great Time to Jump on Board

If you have been involved in the past, we are excited to reconnect with you. In addition, we are excited to lock arms with you as we unfold our vision for the 2017-2018 school year. For those of you that will be brand new to MH Students, this is the best time to jump in. This night will be dedicated to telling you what MH Students is all about, and we will have a great time as we do it.

Bring a Friend

This is going to be a special night. There will be activities, games, a rock-climbing wall, giveaways, and conversations that you’re not going to want to miss. With that in mind, we are encouraging returning students and new students alike to bring a friend with them so that they too might hear what God could do in their lives this semester.

See You Then

The student ministry team wants to invite all students in grades 7 through 12 to come to our annual kickoff event in which we will connect, have fun, cast vision, and get excited about what God has in store for students in the 2017-2018 school year.

 — Ronald Redmond (Student Ministry Director)

The event is Sunday, August 27th at the Regional Campus from 6:30-8:00pm

Lessons From The Field: Peru

My name is Kirk Needham, and I have been attending Mercy Hill Church for a little over a year now. Last February I was talking to some friends about my interest in going international to do mission work. After talking with them, they referred me to a thing called “City Project.” City Project is an 8-week mission trip through Mercy Hill where you get to spend a week in New York City, 4 weeks in Greensboro, and then 2 weeks internationally.

Peru

For the international part of City Project, I got to go to Peru. Going into this trip, myself and the five others that were going with me did not know what to expect. The only thing we had were the stories from a few people that went before us in past years. However, it seemed like everyone’s stories about Peru were different. We didn’t know what part of Peru we would be staying in, what we would be doing while we were there, what the weather would be like, or what we needed to take with us. We found out four days before we left that we were going to be teaching English and abstinence at schools in the mountainous jungles to a people group called the Yanesha. Still, there were so many things we did not know about the trip so we really had to have faith in the Lord and know that He would provide.

Once we landed in Peru, we took a ten-hour bus ride through the Andes Mountains. The landscape and scenery was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Being able to see God’s creation and how he had strategically placed things was really cool. We saw animals and birds that you only get to see in movies. We were able to stay in the jungle for ten days visiting schools in three different villages.

Each day we would teach classes from 8-1:30, go get lunch, and then come back to the school and play games with the students in the area.

My Biggest Takeaway

One of the biggest takeaways for me was being able to see how people in a third world country went about their daily lives. I now feel so blessed to have the life that I do. It is a blessing to have food on the table every night, clean and safe water to drink, and electricity among many other things. The first Sunday we were there, we spent the entire day traveling; but on the second Sunday, we actually got to visit a church in the area. Being able to go to that service was amazing. It lasted over four hours because the people there did not want us to leave. People from miles away walked just to be there with us that day. Being able to see what God has done with that small church and the pastors leading the church was very encouraging.

The World is Hungry for the Word

On the ten-hour bus ride back down the mountains, we all looked back and felt comfort in the visible work that the Lord has been doing in Peru and the experience we were able to go through. In just two weeks, we were able to see multiple people come to Christ and surrender everything to the Lord. Many people in Peru believe in spirits and other forms of magic, which oftentimes leaves people living in fear. Because of this, it was exciting for them to hear the gospel because  that meant they wouldn’t have to live in fear and could have comfort in the Lord. Looking back, I am able to see how open people are to the gospel and how badly they want to hear the Word–they just need people like us to come and share. That opportunity is the only thing stopping them from becoming Christians, so the responsibility falls on those of us who are already Christians to go spread the Word and bear fruit. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about doing something like this—whether going to Peru or another country—to just do it. Even starting here in the United States is significant! There are people all around the world that need to hear the gospel.

Kirk Needham (City Project Student)

Can Short-term Teams Really Maximize Long-term Ministry?

When it comes to short-term mission trips, a driving conviction we hold is to do short-term trips with the long-term in view. When it comes to short-term mission trips, a driving conviction we hold   is to do short-term trips with the long-term in view. 

“Can short-term teams really maximize long-term ministry?” was a question recently raised by Carlos and Meredith Block, our long-term field partners who live in Peru. This year, Mercy Hill has sent two short-term teams, one short-term intern, and will send another team in September to work with them. Read how the Block’s answer their own question in their most recent newsletter:


Our answer is YES, but ministry effectiveness is directly related to several factors:

Pre-trip preparation: Communication with team on site, praying together, getting to know one another, preparing to teach, and planning outreach events sets teams up for effective ministry. 

Attitude: An attitude of service and flexibility focused on long term relationships and goals is the “being” behind the “doing.”

Ministry: Trusting the Lord and giving Him the glory in all things (even scary and uncomfortable situations) can yield fruit that will last. 

Three teams have joined us since we wrote two months ago, and two more are on the way! These friends demonstrated the above qualities, and as the Lord worked, great things happened.

Mercy Hill Church

Mercy Hill (NC) team visited an indigenous school. Casey, John, Caroline and Jack came well prepared to teach in K-12 for four days. Students heard the Genesis-Jesus story, as well as learning their colors in English. The week ended with a pinning ceremony for class officers, a special school supplies gift for each student, and a trip to the river.

Northeast Bible Church

Part of the Northeast Bible team (TX) built the second floor on the first training center building, while others shared in schools, with local women’s groups, and kids’ clubs. They had a special opportunity to visit a community affected by recent flooding. The team was overwhelmed by their hospitality and encouraged them in their rebuilding process.

Mercy Hill – City Project

Mercy Hill’s City Project College Team served for ten days in three high schools, sharing about Biblical Sexuality and using English to build bridges. They had the unique opportunity to be a part of Achievement Day as indigenous students shared what they’d learned this semester. This was yet another opportunity to plant more seeds and pray for future fruit.

How have teams helped us?

In Numbers: There are only two of us at the moment! Teams bring new faces, energy, and opportunities to introduce our indigenous friends to believers both from the US and other parts of Peru giving a broader picture of the body of Christ.

Reaching Children: Teams who work with youth show their love by spending time with them, having fun and sharing truth.

Encouragement: The indigenous often feel isolated and invisible, but when visitors come, they feel encouraged and affirmed, and their hospitality shines.

Reaching High schoolers: “You attract what you are.” Younger testimonies of salvation and life with Christ have a unique impact in school settings. Women connect with women, as do the men on the construction site.

Mobilizing Prayer: As the Brooke Fraser song says, “now that I have seen, I am responsible.”

Strengthening the Indigenous Church: All of this outreach is planting seeds to mobilize the indigenous church to extend His Kingdom. 


Are you next? 

Mercy Hill is committed to sending teams and individuals to partner with the Blocks to make disciples among the indigenous people of Peru. It’s not too late for women of Mercy Hill to go with us as we train and encourage the indigenous natives this September. 

Bryan Miller (Connections/Missions Director)

There is No Shame in Celebrating

In our church stream, there is a sentiment that exists that we should praise God for every success we see and consider ourselves to be worthless specimens who are of no use. This is true, but it is also not the full biblical picture.

Paul Only Boasts in the Cross; but also . . .

There was no Christian (outside of Jesus) who balanced the joy of the work of his own hands with a true understanding that it is God who empowered it all like Paul. What is his key to striking the proper balance? Grace. It is true that Paul said things like this: “But as for me, I will never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14a). This tends to be our default position, and although we know it shouldn’t, it can stifle the celebration of accomplishments that churches like Mercy Hill have seen. “Am I celebrating with the right heart and intentions?” “I won’t celebrate too hard just in case I might be celebrating my part in it.” There is some truth and commendation to thinking like that but, the true picture can set us free to celebrate.

Paul said this about the church in Thessalonica who was extremely receptive to the truth of the gospel that he preached: “For who is our hope or joy or crown of boasting in the presence of our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy!” (1 Thess. 2:19-20). Wait. I thought he said that he wouldn’t boast about anything except the cross of Christ? But if we look carefully, we will see the distinction. He says that the Thessalonian Christians are his crown of boasting. A crown is something that is received from Jesus. He can boast in his work among the faithful Thessalonian church because God, through his grace, gave to Paul, as a gift, the fruitfulness of his ministry. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of [the other apostles], yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). Woah, Paul. It sounds like he’s boasting about himself against the other apostles, but Paul is saying this, “Every measure of grace the Lord gave me, I’ve been faithful with (by his grace).” Every bit of the success of his ministry was chalked up to God’s grace, but he considered it a gift from God that he could take joy in and celebrate his work, even in the presence of Christ . . . because God.

Celebrating like Paul

As we come to our 5-year anniversary and consider the success Mercy Hill has had in ministry, know that God has given us the gift of being able to celebrate what his grace has brought through our hands. The early Christians were not afraid of celebrating numbers: “So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added to them” (Acts 2:41). It was God who added the three thousand to their number, but he did it through Peter’s preaching.

Consider the things we’ve seen. I remember coming to the very first Mercy Hill meeting in Greensboro held in Pastor Andrew’s backyard. There were about 50 people there. Now, we see well over 2,000 people attend our services every week. We met our goal of seeing 500 people baptized before the 5-year mark, and we are very close to seeing our goals of 100 Community Groups launched and 1500 people come through the Weekender. These numbers represent stories. The 500 baptisms represent 500 people whose saving faith in Jesus and his gospel led them to choose following him over the world. The 100 Community Groups launched will represent 100 small groups in which a large portion of our weekly attendance are learning how to be disciples and training others to be disciples. The 1500 people coming through the Weekender represent people who are understanding the importance of the local church and God’s plan for it.

Think about everything we’ve seen happen in missions. We’ve developed strategic partnerships with ministries in the Triad (Hannah’s Haven, Backpack Beginnings, Hope Academy, Greensboro Pregnancy Care Center, Jackson Middle School). These ministries have their finger on the pulse of the needs of our community and know best how to serve them. Our partnership with them aid these ministries tremendously in providing a consistent presence of service in our community.

Think about the churches we’ve helped plant in Orlando (Grace Alive), Charlotte (Mercy Church), LA (Reach Fellowship), The Bridge (Wilmington), and Jesus Our Redeemer (Baltimore); and also, the churches and missionaries we’ve partnered with internationally. These countries include South Asia and Peru. Because of the grace given to us by God, we can celebrate that these cities and countries now have more of a consistent gospel presence, and some that have a gospel presence for the first time. God is saving people through these partnerships.

I could go on and on talking about our short-term trips to the DR and the excellent work our middle school, high school, and college ministries have done in getting teens and young adults into the mission fields and leveraging this important time in their lives for Jesus. The list goes on.

Mercy Hill, the point is these things happen because God, through his grace, has gifted us with people who want to serve, want to live their lives on mission, and who want to be radically generous. We can take joy in and celebrate what God is doing through our hands. It is all him, but he gives us the ability to celebrate our work. We’re not ashamed to celebrate our 5-year anniversary; rather, like Pastor Andrew says, “We praise God and ask for more.”

Alex Nolette (Community Groups/Equip Coordinator)

Putting “Y’all” Back in the Bible

We live in a very individualistic culture. This puts us at somewhat of a disadvantage when reading the Bible because the Bible was written to a collectivist culture. A society defined as collectivistic is a society who thinks in terms of the whole. Where in America we often think about what we can do to further our own prosperity or that of our closest family, a collectivist culture is more inclined to think about how their actions will affect the whole community. “We” is more often the default mindset than “I.”

We aren’t making things very easy on ourselves when English speakers translate the Bible. You see, Hebrew and Greek have a plural form of the word “you.” In Greek, for example, the singular form of you is σύ (su) and the plural is ὑμεῖς (humeis). You don’t need to be a Greek scholar to see that these are completely different words. Do you know what the two are in English? You. We have the same word for both singular and plural. Therefore, particularly in America, different regions have developed different slang terms for the plural you. Where I’m from up north, it’s “you guys.” In the Pittsburgh area, it’s “yinz.” And we all know what it is here in the South: “Y’all.”

Making a Mess of the Situation

So, what happens when an American, who was brought up in America’s individualistic culture, reads the Bible in English? They tend to read the plural you in a singular way, and this is why many in the West think they don’t need to be a part of a local church. They think they can have their own private Christianity; a personal “agreement” with God. This is absolutely foreign to the New Testament. Most of Paul’s letters were written to specific local churches (e.g. 1 Corinthians is written to the church in Corinth and Philippians is written to the church in Philippi) or a group of local churches in a certain region (e.g. Galatians is written to the churches in Galatia). But even when a letter is written to a person like Philemon, Timothy, or Titus, participation in the local church is assumed: “To Philemon our dear friend and coworker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church that meets in your home . . . I have great joy and encouragement from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother” (Philemon 1:1,7). We need to get back to reading our “you” as “y’all”. We need to remember that the local church is designed by God to be how the body of Christ (i.e. all Christians) grows.

The Local Church as God’s Means of Christian Growth

Paul in Ephesians says, “And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (vs. 11-13). If you are not in a continual relationship with your brothers and sisters in the local church and submitting to the pastors and teachers, then you are cutting yourself off from God’s number one tool for increased faith and holiness of life. Not to mention that God gives gifts by the Holy Spirit specifically for the common good of the local church (1 Cor. 12:7). A gift given that’s used outside the church is a distorted and polluted gift. And finally, with all the “one another” statements in Scripture (e.g. love one another, pray for one another, admonish one another, serve one another, build one another up), to not be involved in the local church means disobedience. The author of Hebrews puts it plainly: “And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Become a part of “Y’all” at Mercy Hill

We make learning how to get meaningfully involved in Mercy Hill very easy. We invite you to come to the Weekender, where you’ll learn about the church (our story, values, goals, theology) and you’ll learn the opportunities we have for you to participate in the body of Christ at Mercy Hill. You’ll even get the opportunity to shadow a serve team that weekend and get your feet wet. The Weekender is where those who are connected to the crowd get committed to the family. If you have never been to the Weekender, then it is for you! Learn more and sign-up for our August 18-20 Weekender today at mercyhillgso.com/weekender

— Alex Nolette (Community Groups/Equip Coordinator)