As a church, we’ve been seeking the Lord for direction through prayer and fasting. We’ve been asking God to give the leadership of the church clarity of direction. We’ve been asking God to help us be open to how He leads. We believe God is answering our prayers and guiding our steps. There are three main areas where we believe the Lord has been answering our prayers for guidance and ideas.
The first area is the area of congregational worship. We believe He has led us to call Jim Thomaston to be our new Worship Leader. Jim loves the Lord and desires to use his talents to help people worship the Lord. His wife Shannon shares that desire as well. We’re excited about what the Lord is going to do through this change.
The second area is the church building. We believe the Lord has given us ideas for how to best use different parts of the church building such as the Welcome Center, the Youth area, the Children’s area, and the Children’s Library.
In the coming weeks, we will begin to use the Welcome Center as our Main Entrance to the Church. Until now, the Welcome Center has been used as a hallway. Now we are going to use that space as an area to welcome new guests to our church as well as one another. We’re asking our adult Sunday school classes to end at 10:40am in order to give people time to come down to the Welcome Center, grab a worship guide, and greet one another. You’ll also begin seeing new signs outside the building that will guide everyone to the Welcome Center.
Another area that will be changing is the Youth area. We are going to move the Youth area from the third floor of the Sanctuary building to the second floor of the Sanctuary building. This will put the youth on the same level with the other classes, give them access to a restroom, and make it accessible for anyone that may have trouble with stairs.
In the Children’s area, we will be creating a check-in station on the nursery side of the area. We will be placing a sign above the double doors that lead into that area that directs those with children to where they can check in.
Another idea that we want to implement in the Children’s area is to create a children’s library in one of the unused classrooms. The children’s library would be a place where the children can read a book or play an educational game on the iPads. Currently, the children’s books in the main library are not being used. We’re going to move the children’s books from the main library into the children’s area. This will give the children and the teachers easier access to the resources we have.
The third area is outreach. There are two main ideas that we want to implement in the area of outreach. The first is our online outreach. We’ll be launching a new website this month. As you may know, a church’s website has become the front door. Most people go to a church’s website before they go to the physical building. In addition to our website, we’ll be using other forms of social media as well. The second idea is to focus our outreach efforts on specific neighborhoods. As the outreach team meets to discuss this initiative, we’ll be able to share more details as to what this will look like.
These are three main areas that we believe the Lord has given us ideas to implement that will help us be more effective in reaching the next generation with the gospel. We’re continually asking God to lead and guide us. Because we know, like the Psalmist said in Psalm 127:1…
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
Let’s continue to trust the Lord to build His church as we move forward by faith.
In this article, I’m going to share with you where we are as a church and where we go from here. Let me illustrate the life cycle of a church by using three colors. Green is the color for growth. Yellow is the color that represents a mixture of growth and decline. Red is the color for decline. When a church is in the green it’s growing in most areas. The members are growing individually, the church is growing numerically, and the gospel mission of the church is expanding. When a church is in the yellow, many of the members may be growing individually but the church is not growing numerically and its gospel reach is declining. When a church is in the red, most signs of growth are in decline. Prior to the pandemic, we were in the yellow. The Lord was gracious to us and we made it through the pandemic and have experienced growth in some areas. However, our additions have not outpaced our subtractions which have caused us to move further down the scale. As we enter 2023, I believe we’re in the bottom half of the yellow. This presents us with many challenges but also with many opportunities.
Before I share with you how we’ll move forward, let me share with you our current reality. Our current reality as a church includes both signs of growth as well as signs of decline. First, let me share the signs of growth that I see in you. I see spiritual growth in you. I believe you are growing in your love for God, in your knowledge of God, and in your involvement in the mission of God. When we’re gathered together, I see the love that you have for one another. I also see your love for others as you welcome those who are new to our church family. You believe the Bible is God’s Word and Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. You give generously of your time, talents, and treasure to the mission of God. You can’t manufacture those signs of growth. They are truly a testimony to the Spirit of God working in and through you. I am very encouraged by these signs of growth and I believe they will continue.
Now let me share some of the challenges of our current reality. This year was the first year since the pandemic with no restrictions. This has helped give us an accurate picture of where we are. Two indicators that are concerning are worship attendance and giving. These are not the only indicators that I’m looking at when I consider the health of our church but they are two of them. Worship attendance helps us see if we’re being effective in reaching new people with the gospel. Giving helps us see if people are becoming more generous which is a sign of spiritual growth. Giving also determines the church’s staffing, facilities, and mission objectives for the year. On this side of the pandemic, we’ve seen a decline of about 20% in our worship attendance and our giving. This is not unusual and is in line with what other churches in the nation are experiencing. However, for a church our size this percentage is very significant. It has pushed us down the scale and has placed us very close to the red.
My conclusion is that if we don’t make some bold moves in 2023 then The Hill Baptist Church may not exist in 3 to 5 years. Once a church reaches a certain point on the scale it becomes extremely difficult for that church to grow again. Our current reality is that we’re facing some challenges but thankfully we have the opportunity to make the necessary changes so that we can be more effective in the mission God has given us. I believe if we’re willing to make those changes then the ministry of The Hill Baptist Church will continue for many years to come.
This leads us to ask the question, “What changes need to be made?”
The deacons and I have been prayerfully discussing what changes need to be made for the past several months. But we need your help. We need you to join us in prayer as we seek God’s direction for the church. This is why we’re calling the church to start 2023 with 21 days of prayer and fasting. I have put together a guide for you to use during this time. You can pick up a printed copy in the vestibule of the church. You can access an electronic version on our website. You can also call the church office and have one mailed to you. Along with the guide, I’ll be spending the first four Sundays in January sharing more about this process. The deacons and I will be meeting throughout January to seek the Lord and finalize the plan for the changes that need to be made. Please join us in prayer and fasting as we seek the Lord during this crucial time. Pray for direction but also pray for openness to what God may have us do. We must all come to God with open hands, completely surrendered to Him.
Our current reality is a mixture of growth and decline. It’s my prayer that our future will be more characterized by growth. Let’s seek the Lord together and ask Him to help us become the people He wants us to be.
I was reading an article about the history of the phrase “thank you” and it said that the word “thank” comes from the Latin root word that means “think.” Translated loosely, the phrase might mean “I will remember what you have done for me.” Being thankful requires us to be thoughtful. The Apostle Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that we should “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Giving thanks to God requires us to be thoughtful. When our circumstances are pleasant it’s easy to give thanks. But our circumstances are not always going to be pleasant. When we find ourselves in unpleasant circumstances, we must look beyond them and think about what God has done and is doing for us in Christ.
Whether you’re facing pleasant or unpleasant circumstances try praying one of these prayers each day.
“God, thank you for how you provide for me.”
“Father, I’m having a hard time dealing with this situation but I want to thank you that you’ve given me your Spirit to comfort and guide me.”
“Lord, thank you for my church family and for the opportunity you’ve given me to love and serve your people.”
“Lord, I’m feeling discouraged but I want to thank you that you are working all things for my good.”
“Father, thank you for my family and friends that you’ve placed in my life.”
“Jesus, I’m feeling lonely but I want to thank you that you will never leave me or forsake me.”
“God, I want to thank you for who you are and for blessing me with __________________.”
Being thankful requires us to be thoughtful. Let us remember what God and others have done for us and be a thankful people.
I talked to someone the other day about their life plan and he mentioned several possibilities. Sometimes thinking about all the options and all the decisions that need to be made can become paralyzing. What if I make the wrong decision? What if step four doesn’t come after step three? What if I don’t get into that degree program? What if I’m not married by this certain age? What if I never have children? What if I don’t get that job? There are so many questions that come to mind as we seek to move forward and make progress. As I was talking to my friend about all the decisions and details of what may come in the future, I told him that he needs to simply ask the question, “What’s next?” I told him he needed to simply focus on taking his next step. In a similar way, as you think about knowing God, growing in your relationship with God, and serving God in the world, you may become paralyzed by all that you could do. So, I want you to simply ask the question, “What’s next?” What’s your next step? I’ve compiled a list of the next steps I want you to consider taking. There are several listed but I want you to simply pick one. I want you to take your next step. Look over the list below and chose which one you will take.
Sign up to receive the weekly Mission Update email (You can sign up at thehillbaptist.com or by calling the church office.)
Begin attending the Worship Service on Sundays at 11am
Begin attending a Sunday school class on Sundays at 9:45am (We offer two adult classes.)
Place your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior for the first time
Get Baptized (schedule a time to talk to me and we’ll plan a date)
Become a member of The Hill Baptist Church (Fill out a membership card located in the vestibule of the Sanctuary.)
Go through the six-lesson curriculum entitled Discipleship Essentials (Talk to me about scheduling a time to go through this curriculum.)
Begin attending the Wednesday evening prayer time & Bible study
Begin using your giftedness to serve in a specific role in the church at least once a month (Ask me about specific serving opportunities in our church.)
Start giving financially to the mission of the Church (You can give your gift in person, or you can mail it to the Church, or you can give online at thehillbaptist.com and click on GIVE.)
Invite someone to come with you to a Worship Service
Share the gospel with someone
Begin reading the Bible every day (I encourage you to start with the New Testament letter to the Philippians.)
I hope this specific list helps you take your next step! If you have any questions or if there is any way I can help you take your next step please let me know. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, call the church office, or talk to me in person.
It’s so encouraging when you witness the birth of the desire within a person’s heart to grow spiritually. I was able to witness this in one of our youth at the end of the youth beach trip. Many of you were involved in this ministry effort as well through your prayers and financial support. Thank you for investing in our youth!
As we exit the summer months and enter a new school year, I want to challenge you to continue to be engaged in the mission. It will take effort but the effort is worth it. Your participation in helping people become growing followers of Jesus will help both you and those you’re working with move forward with the Lord. Here are a few ways you can engage in the mission.
Be Present - Make it a priority to attend Sunday School and the Worship Service every Sunday. Try scheduling your other activities so they don’t conflict with gathering with the Church. Your presence is a blessing to our Church!
Serve - Look for ways to use your gifts and abilities to help our Church fulfill its mission. Talk to the pastor if you would like to find a way to serve.
Is there a role you can take on in your Sunday school class?
Are you interested in helping with the children or youth?
Are you interested in college ministry?
Would you like to incorporate your musical ability into our worship services?
Do you enjoy planning activities?
Do you love helping people in need?
Do you like visiting with people who are homebound or in extended care facilities?
Are you interested in learning how to operate our sound and video equipment?
Would you like to serve on the Prep Team that will make sure everything is set up for our Wednesday evening dinners?
Give - We are behind in our giving and as we exit the summer we need to catch up. We need everyone to give financially in order for us to meet our budget needs. There are three ways you can give.
You can give Sunday morning before or after the Worship Service by leaving your offering in the offering plate.
You can give by mailing your check to:
The Hill Baptist Church
2165 Kings Way
Augusta GA 30904
It’s very encouraging when you witness the birth of the desire within a person’s heart to grow spiritually! We can all be involved in helping people become growing followers of Jesus. How will you be engaged in the mission?
This past week we had a construction crew tear down a structure in our backyard. When this structure was originally built it was built solid. It was well planned and constructed meticulously. It probably took several months to build.
The crew that took the structure down had between three and four men depending on the day. They didn’t use any heavy equipment or machinery. What took several months to construct they were able to tear down in three days. It’s amazing how much easier it is to tear down than to build up something.
What’s true of structures is true of people as well. How much easier is it to tear down someone than to build them up? Why is it easier to find fault rather than to encourage? There’s something within our fallen nature that causes us to effortlessly locate the shortcomings in those around us. Perhaps it’s to make ourselves feel better than the other person. But whatever the reason, as followers of Jesus we’re called to build rather than demolish. The Apostle Paul told the Christians in Thessalonica, “encourage one another and build one another up (1 These. 5:11).”
I want to challenge you to say an encouraging word to those around you every day this week. Look for ways to acknowledge how God is working in their lives rather than focusing on their failures. Let’s be intentional in building one another up.
Summer is upon us. Yes, that means the heat is upon us. But it also means the kids are out of school, the pools are open, and the countdown to vacation is nearing the single digits. The summer is also a unique time of year that provides many opportunities to minister to our members as well as to our community. In order to make the most of the summer season, we’ve implemented a new summer schedule of gathering opportunities. Read through the weekly opportunities below and see how you can get involved as well as invite those you know to join you!
9:45am - Sunday School for all ages - Sunday School is the best way for you to get to know other Christians and study the Bible together!
11am - Worship Service - I hope everyone will come to worship the Lord with us on Sundays! This is the main time during the week that we can all worship together!
5pm Jones Sunday School Class Summer Sundays at Ron’s House
7pm - College Bible Study at Ron’s House
Youth Hangouts - Brandon is planning a different youth hangout each Tuesday. The first one is a cookout and pool party at Ron’s house on Tuesday, June 14th at 5pm.
10am-12pm or 1pm - Wacky Wednesdays for children 4 years old through the 5th grade (youth can be volunteers)
11:30am-1pm - Adult Lunch & Bible Study in the Social Hall (Please RSVP the Monday prior by going to our website thehillbaptist.com and clicking on Wednesday Lunch or by calling the church office at 706.736.8446). Cost is $5.
There is something for everyone during the week. I want to encourage you to be as involved as you can this summer. I also want to encourage you to look for opportunities to invite children, youth, college students, and people of all ages to plug into one of these great ministry opportunities! Summer is upon us and I’m excited about what God is going to do in this season!
Who enjoys moving? As many of you know, we recently purchased a home. We’ve thoroughly enjoyed living in the Kings Way house but it was time to get a place of our own. Over the past several months we’ve been in the moving process. Although we’ve made the transition to the new house, we’re still moving. Moving is a process. Some things came with us and some things didn’t. We also had to buy some new things that we needed that we didn’t have. Moving is a process.
Moving forward with God is also a process. In Christ, we’re made new. The old has gone and the new has come. As we make that move, there are some things that need to go with us and there are some things that should not. Even though we have made the move into a new relationship with God through faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is continually helping us see what we need to remove from the house of our lives. Maybe we need to remove a toxic relationship, maybe it’s a particular sinful behavior that we’ve packed up and brought with us from the old house, or maybe it’s a false belief about our identity or self-worth that we’re trying to find a place for in our new house. Moving is an opportunity to get rid of some things that you no longer need.
Moving is also an opportunity to enjoy some new things as well. In Christ, we are fully accepted by God. God has set His love upon us and nothing can make Him love us more or less. God has given us His Spirit to live within us to help us, teach us, convict us, intercede in prayer for us, and guide us, We have a new family in the church. These benefits and many more are new to us in Christ.
The challenges and blessings of moving are that it’s an opportunity to change. I want to encourage you to make the move into a relationship with God if you haven’t already. If you have made that move, then I encourage you to ask the Lord if there is anything that you’ve brought from the old house that needs to be discarded and replaced with something new from the Lord. Moving is a process. Let’s listen to the Lord in the process and become the people He wants us to be.
April is a full month! As we enter the first week of April, our city will be filled with guests for the Masters Golf Tournament! Kids and teachers will be enjoying a break from school and many people will be traveling. Then after spring break we enter into Holy Week. Palm Sunday is Sunday, April 10th. Our Maundy Thursday Service is Thursday, April 14th at 6:30pm. Our Good Friday Tenebrae Service is Friday, April 15th at 7pm. Then we will gather Easter Sunday for Sunday School at 9:45am and Worship at 11am. Then we will conclude the month with our Food, Fellowship, & Fun gathering on Wednesday, April 27th at 6:30pm.
I want to challenge you to make the most of these opportunities. Invite someone to come with you to one or more of these services. One tool you can use to invite them is the Facebook Event that we created. You can share the event on your Facebook page as well as invite your Facebook Friends to the event. Also, the most effective way to invite someone is through personal invitation. I know we’re all busy but let’s not let our busyness blind us to the opportunities God will give us to reach people for Christ. Holy Week reminds us of the self-sacrificing love of Jesus. Let us display that type of love to those around us by giving them the opportunity to come and hear the gospel at one or more of our services. I’m looking forward to how God will bless our steps of faith.
In the month of March, I’ll be going through a sermon series entitled “One Hit Wonders.” Each week we’ll study one of the shortest books of the Bible (Obadiah, Philemon, and Jude). Although these books are small, each containing only one chapter, they contain large truths. I encourage you to take some time and read each of these books before the sermons. Here is the order of the series.
Sunday, March 6th - Obadiah
Sunday, March 13th - Philemon
Sunday, March 20th - Jude
I’m looking forward to diving into these small books with you and discovering the large truths that God has for us!