Who we are and what we are about?
Lara (my wife) asked her school children last week what they would rather be: a bird or a plane? A very large percentage said a bird, and their answer was because it was free. A plane is controlled by someone, directed and guided by someone, told by someone where to go.
At Hillside we will certainly guide, but mostly we hold a value that we will set you free. God gave us brains to think, and so we will not tell you what you think or what you believe or the best way to spiritual maturity, we believe Jesus gave us the freedom to ask:
What do you think? How do you interpret this?
(Matthew 17:25, 18:12, 21:28, 22:42, Luke 10:36)
Below are a few points that make up (what I think) Hillside reflects in its church personality and character. Some of these you may notice are my own uniqueness as a pastor/leader, what I would like to see and lead a church to, and some have been discovered along the way or in people who belong to Hillside:
- We will always strive to be intellectually challenging in our preaching and our theology while holding onto some key theological truths and values. We give ourselves the freedom to question, to doubt, and to wrestle while placing God at the centre. We lean on John Wesley’s quadrilateral that Scripture, Reasoning (Clear thinking), Experience (Life experience) and Tradition affect our theology. We will always apply the delicate balance of Faith, Life and the Bible. We are a church for those willing to question, doubt and wrestle. The kind of Jesus we believe in will affect the kind of Christianity we practice.
- From this basis our preaching and teaching is mainly “lifestyle preaching” with a real slant towards life application in a real world with real needs and hurts. At times our sermons are counter cultural and challenging. We are not prescriptive to our teaching groups and Bible studies, and so allow and encourage wrestling and questioning within our small groups.
- We will sometimes be a little “messy or noisy” when it comes to family and community services. Children in the service is always a little noisier, and more distracting, but we at least for the initial worship space include children in our sanctuary space and always invite our children to share and be present in communion.
- We are a South African church. We will reflect this by being inclusive of other languages found in South Africa in our worship. We love the African rhythm and spirit of Ubuntu, and reflect that in our worship style. We value and strive for diverse community.
- We believe that quality worship of God and Sunday services should be heartfelt and seek a connection with God. Should not be entertainment or concert based. We will seek to connect the soul to God in worship while striving for musical excellence.
- SPIRIT FILLED. We are charismatic in the more ancient sense of the word by allowing ourselves to be guided by the gifts that the Holy Spirit has given us, and the Holy Spirit’s prompting. We seek to live out the fruits of the Holy Spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control.
- We strive to reflect the spirit of hospitality by the way we welcome people. We serve free food and refreshments as part of our Sunday services. As a church we believe it is not always about receiving but about giving back and being generous as a church, the way we ask our congregation members to also reflect the spirit of generosity. We intentionally and mindfully hold back the temptation to make it always about the money.
- MAKING A DIFFERENCE. We are a community based church that cares deeply for the community we serve, with regular pastoral visits and caring for the needy and sick. We also have a strong priority towards education as a value and feed and support local schools in the area. We strive to be a church that offers “common good” that benefits not just followers of Jesus but all people.