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First Steps

Index of Questions and Answers

What is the vision of Grace Hills?
How is Grace Hills governed?
What is the worship style at Grace Hills?
How is discipleship carried out at Grace Hills?
Does Grace Hills offer anything for kids and/or students?
What does Grace Hills believe about human sexuality and marriage?
What denomination is Grace Hills?
Is Grace Hills connected with Rick Warren and Saddleback Church?
What does Grace Hills teach concerning the baptism, filling, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?

What is the vision of Grace Hills?

We dream of being a home for spiritually homeless people. We envision a place where people can begin and build a deep relationship with Jesus Christ and with fellow believers, where people do life together in genuine community, and where people grow spiritually in an atmosphere where the grace of God is highly celebrated.

We dream of a church where real problems are solved and real needs are met as people are drawn closer to God, where people recover from hurts, habits, and hang-ups that prevent them from enjoying meaningful relationships with God and each other.

We dream of a church where God’s Word is honored as our highest authority on earth and as the source of real and abundant life.

We dream of a church where people serve one another according to the way that God has shaped them, where spiritual gifts, passion, talents, and experiences are a part of how we meet the needs of others inside and outside of our church family.

We dream of a church that matters to its community, that makes a visible, noticeable, and tangible difference on behalf of Christ in the real problems that exist.

We dream of a church that celebrates changed lives, that cultivates an atmosphere of freedom to grow and serve, and that empowers people with the confidence to do so.

How is Grace Hills governed?

Grace Hills will be “governed” by the leadership of the Holy Spirit, but we will be led by Pastors and Elders, who have biblically been assigned the responsibility of overseeing the flock. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only and supreme Head of the church.

“Voting” is essentially a call to divide over a question. Decisions about the direction of Grace Hills won’t be decided by a vote, by consensus, or by popular opinion. They will be made by spirit-filled, prayer-empowered leaders who are careful to be accountable to each other and to God for the heavy responsibility of doing what is best for the glory of God and the good of God’s people.

Administration will be handled, as much as possible, by the church’s staff so that the congregation is free to serve and minister to one another and to the community. Read more details about Grace Hills’ Leadership Structure.

What is the worship style of Grace Hills?

Though the question of “style” is rather unimportant in comparison to much greater issues, it is a common one among believers. Our style will be determined by these questions:

  1. How can we bring honor and glory to God in corporate worship?
  2. How can we utilize music and other worship elements to aid the congregation in engaging with God corportely?
  3. How can we communicate the gospel in the heart language of our community and in the cultural setting in which God has placed us?
  4. How can we make the Word of God central to our weekly gatherings?
  5. How can we worship in a way that celebrates what God has done, is doing, and will do among us?

The words “traditional” and “contemporary” are overused and have all kinds of baggage attached to them. We won’t use either in describing our approach to worship. Instead we will approach the issue of style as people who are bound by what will bring honor to God, but free to express that honor in a variety of creative ways.

And in more plain language, there will be bands, including drums, and other elements that may not create the most comfortable atmosphere for people who are bound by non-biblical traditions, but our greater concern will be communicating the gospel in a way that is culturally relevant and understandable to non-believers and new believers as well as “veterans” in the faith.

How will Grace Hills make disciples?

Disciple-making happens as the church gets intentional about taking people on a journey toward spiritual growth. We want to clear the pathway for people to take steps forward in their faith. This means we’ll be offering classes designed to introduce people to the faith and to introduce believers to new levels of spiritual maturity.

Disciples aren’t simply people who are increasing in their understanding of biblical doctrine. Disciples actively serve and reproduce themselves by bringing others into the family of God. We will define spiritual maturity in terms of our intimacy with God as well as our activity for God.

We will provide opportunities for fellowship, friendship, and community through an ever-expanding network of small groups, and in the context of these small groups, discipleship will happen as we mutually sharpen one another and dive deeper into God’s Word together.

Will Grace Hills offer ministry programs for children and youth?

Yes, absolutely. You can read more about what we offer for kids and students.

What denomination is Grace Hills?

Grace Hills is a place for everyone, regardless of religious background. Ultimately, we’re about Jesus, we’re about the Bible, and we’re about the least, the last, and the lost coming to know Christ. We do identify ourselves as Baptists for two good reasons.

One, it helps us quickly identify certain doctrinal distinctives, such as having the Bible as our sole authority, the autonomy of the local church, the priesthood of every believer, believer’s baptism by immersion, and the eternal security of the believer in Christ.

Two, it enables us to partner with other churches in an organized way to plant more churches, send more missionaries, and do greater works around the world for the glory of God. In particular, we are affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of America and partner with them financially, and in other ways, to support a church planting and missions movement.

What does Grace Hills believe about human sexuality and marriage?

First of all, this is a “frequently asked question” because this issue is such a big deal in our culture, but the fact is, gay people who visit and attend Grace Hills are just as welcome and accepted as anyone else. But because it’s such a common question, here’s what we believe…

We believe that God created humankind in his own image, and created humankind as male and female (Genesis 1:26; 2:7). We believe that man and woman are sexually complimentary to one another and that God’s expressed intention for sexual fulfillment is within the context of a lifetime covenant marriage between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:23-24; Matthew 19:4-6).

Because we believe all of this, we believe that every person possesses dignity and value and deserves love and respect (Psalm 8; James 3:9), especially from the church. And we further believe that every kind of sexual activity outside of marriage between one man and one woman is against God’s plan and furthers the brokenness of people including pre-marital and extra-marital sex, homosexual sex, lust and pornography (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5; Romans 1:25-27; Matthew 5:28).

God loves every person, regardless of our orientation, attractions, and identity. He hurts alongside those who struggle with sexual addiction, gender dysphoria, and same-sex attraction, so while Grace Hills affirms the traditional biblical picture of marriage and sexuality, we are also determined to be a safe place for those who struggle as well as for those who disagree on various points with us. Our greatest aim is the salvation, healing, and flourishing of all people through a relationship with Jesus, made possible equally for all by the cross where he died for us and the empty tomb he left behind.

Ultimately, we choose to show love, to serve, and to demonstrate acceptance of people rather than anger, judgment, and condemnation. We strive to continually discover the delicate balance of truth and grace in these and all other matters. Way more than an official statement, what we really appreciate is conversation about these kinds of issues. Share your story or concerns with us by email.

Is Grace Hills connected with Rick Warren and Saddleback Church?

Yes. Our Pastor, Brandon Cox, has served on staff at Saddleback as a Pastor and continues to oversee pastors.com, the online ministry of Rick Warren and Saddleback Church to pastors around the world. Further, Saddleback endorsed and financially supported the launching of Grace Hills. We consider Saddleback a mentoring church, a key partner, and a close friend.

We are not, however, owned by Saddleback, formally or legally. Grace Hills, like Saddleback, is an autonomous church. We own our own property, hire our own staff, and lead our decision-making processes without influence from outside organizations. We will, however, be partnering with Saddleback to plant other churches like ours that will also be endorsed and supported by Saddleback.

What does Grace Hills teach concerning the baptism, filling, and gifts of the Holy Spirit?

We can’t offer a fully-stated position or defense here, but offer this brief summary. The “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is something that Jesus promised would occur and which we believe did occur on the day of Pentecost. It is never presented as an event that a believer must seek as an experience subsequent to salvation. Every believer receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit the moment they place their faith in Jesus Christ.

Being filled with the Spirit is a matter of yielding to His control and living in moment-by-moment obedience to Him. We are commanded to be filled with (controlled by) the Spirit repeatedly and continually.

The Spirit’s primary role in the life of the believer is to shed light on God’s truth and lead us into closer fellowship with God. Another role He carries out is the gifting of believers to serve other people and share the gospel. We do not see any necessity for the Spirit to have ceased the giving of any particular gifts, nor do we limit the scope of His gifting only to lists of gifts mentioned in the Bible. The Spirit is sovereign and may gift anyone, in any way, for any task that brings Him glory.

We believe in divine healing, but also assert that it is not always God’s will to grant physical healing and that He more often chooses to work through the medicinal and healing capabilities developed by brilliant and gifted people in the medical field. Further, while He calls us to pray boldly, He does not call us to act as sovereign over Him in determining His will. Healing is always at the discretion of a sovereign God.

We do not practice speaking in tongues in our public worship services. This is based on our agreement with the Scriptures that this can be a very confusing thing for nonbelievers to encounter and our weekend services are designed to be a place where believers can always feel confident bringing their non-believing friends.

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