Chapel Hill is a community of faithful followers of Jesus working together to present everyone mature in Christ. We have adopted the Evangelical Presbyterian Church's statement of belief. This includes a prologue about God’s Word and seven statements that outline an evangelical, reformed understanding about the Trinity, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the Church, Jesus' return and..
Now, for those of us raised in the church, it is almost second nature. Worship is what you do on Sunday; church is where you go. I remember the purple hymnals, the mimeographed bulletins with runny print, an unmistakable aroma—and always a few typos. I remember purple velvet ropes that forced us toward the front, the taste of purple Welch’s grape juice at communion—(I always searched for the fullest cup in the plate!) And of course the choir, robes, the too-long sermon. I grew up with this stuff. It is what the Toones family did on Sunday mornings.
But when you pause to think about it, what we Christians do on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings is a little weird. And if you DIDN’T grow up going to church, it is particularly weird. What IS “worship” anyhow? And why do you call it a worship “service?” Why the robes and the odd music that we never listen to any other time of the week? And why do we spend 25 minutes (or more) listening to some guy talk to us about some small section of some old book? And then, we close our eyes while that same guy (or gal) talks out loud to someone that they apparently think is listening—but no one can see. And at the end of it all, we raise our hands like someone’s got a gun on us until that up-front person waves his hand at us—and sets us free.
See what I mean? To the absolute newcomer, a lot of what we do when we come together for what we call “worship”—is just weird.
This weekend, I want to explore that with you. I want all of us to rethink our own assumptions about worship. And for a high point, we are going to have an epic musical experience like you’ve never, ever heard before. I promise. I don’t make too many worship promises—but you are NOT going to want to miss this!
So, please come. And please—will you do what we as a church are still learning better how to do—would you think of a friend who might benefit from this conversation? Bring them along. If you come on Saturday night, it will mean free hot dogs and ice cream for you. And then there’s that epic musical event I’m promising.
Worship is weird. Wonderfully, wonderfully weird. Join me this weekend as we talk about that. And bring—a—friend!
P.S.—I’m serious about this weekend. You really don’t want to miss this musical experience! Expect the unexpected!
I’m not sure if 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) is my “life verse,” but it is helpful to meditate on “in season and out of season.”
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Jennifer and I are so grateful for the five years we have served and “lived among you” here at Chapel Hill. We had no idea what a delight “life in the Harbor” would be. A couple of friends in Southern California who knew of Chapel Hill and Gig Harbor were “green with envy” when they heard we were moving north.” We had no idea the blessing that was about to come our way!
As we end our season of ministry with you, our hearts are full of gratitude and thankfulness. We know that God is faithful to provide and guide on the journey. So it is with a heightened sense of anticipation that we look forward to where God will lead on the next leg for Chapel Hill and for the MacDonalds!
What we have experienced these past five years is the joy of “convergence”—that season of ministry former Fuller Seminary Professor Bobby Clinton describes as a time when God integrates all your life experiences, education, work life, hurts, gifts and temperament to maximize God’s purposes and fruitfulness in your life. In God’s economy nothing is wasted, even the hard stuff!
I take great satisfaction in this. Especially as it relates to the ministry of Celebrate Recovery. One of our favorite verses in CR is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (ESV):
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort we ourselves are comforted by God.”
God never wastes a hurt. And as we are comforted and healed by God we too can be a source of comfort and transformation to others through the power of God’s Spirit.
Thank you, Chapel Hill, for loving the MacDonalds so well. We are healthier, happier people because of your ministry to us. We are filled with the fullness of God’s love as we step into God’s future in the power of the Holy Spirit!
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!
I have always been intrigued with the last verse in Luke 9 where Jesus says, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” As I understand it, Jesus is saying that if we spend a lot of time looking over our shoulder at past regrets, second-guessing decisions that we have made, it can paralyze us. We became so backward-oriented that we are no forward-good.
Paul seems to say the same thing in perhaps a more positive way in his letter to the Philippians. “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:13) Again, scripture instructs us that we can become so immersed in reflections on our past failures, regrets or pains that we have little left for the future God intends for us.
These two passages remind us how an unhealthy obsession with our past can be debilitating. Yet, ironically, the Bible frequently commands us TO remember! That word appears more than 160 times in scripture. This is not the regretful, second-guessing against which Jesus and Paul warn us. No, this is the healthy, life-giving, faith-building remembering of God’s faithfulness to us in times past. It is an admonition to recall and rejoice over the many, many acts of good grace that God has poured out upon us.
In other words, dwelling on the past failures and disappointments—BAD! But dwelling, reflecting, remembering ALL the good things that God has done for us—GOOD. GOOD, GOOD.
My wife says that I don’t spend nearly enough time remembering and celebrating what God has done; I’m always too focused on what’s next. I always listen to my wife! So—before we launch headlong into a new year, we are going to pause, remember and celebrate the incredible things God has done this past year. You may not realize it—but 2018-19 was an epic year for us in many ways. It might have slipped your mind—but when you come this weekend, we will help you remember. (AND—we’ll get a glimpse at what is coming next year.)
We will even do some precarious rock-stacking in the service! Do come—and bring a friend.
I hope you were one of the almost 1,350 souls who were able to worship with us last weekend as we celebrated dads! It was wonderful to be able to team-preach with Pastor Ellis about our experiences with our own dads, and to give all the dads who filled the Sanctuary throughout the weekend some practical tools to show their kids that they belong and are loved and valued.
We also had a lot of fun together. We enjoyed sweet bluegrass music at the 9:00 am worship service and Guns N’ Roses rock and roll at the modern services...quaffed delicious root beer floats...feasted on hot dogs...practiced our swing on the putting green...and made sure the kids had fun at the bouncy house!
We also invited our newcomers to enter a drawing we had to win either a beautiful grill courtesy of our friends at The Home Depot, or a $100 gift card from our friends at Ace Hardware. We are so grateful to them for helping us make fathers…and our guests…feel appreciated last weekend.
Thank you for celebrating with us, and please remember to keep on inviting friends to join us at Chapel Hill this coming weekend. In fact, it’s going to be another special time as we celebrate our students, our children who have memorized their Waypoints Bible verses, and the ministry of Children’s Director Deb Robertson.
Eighteen years ago, my youth pastor began investing in my life. At the time, he probably had no idea the impact that his investment would have on a 16-year-old unchurched teenager. He was just one of the many people who took the time to invest in my life during those formative years.
The encouragement, support, and service opportunities my mentors gave me helped reveal my calling to ministry. The impact of adults investing in the lives of teenagers is something that cannot be overstated. But the challenge is that we may not see the fruit of that investment.
My very first ministry position was as a youth intern for middle school and high school programs at Faith Community Church in Fillmore, California. Although I was 18 and inexperienced, I knew there were kids who didn’t know Jesus, and I wanted them to know him. There were a lot of responsibilities that I wasn’t sure I would be able to fulfill because of my age, education, and experience. However, God is good and used the leaders in my life to disciple me.
Now here I am at Chapel Hill—discipling students in the same ways I was discipled as a teenager. Recently, I received a message from one of my former students to whom I ministered as an intern. He recalled an event I put on when I was an intern and shared how meaningful this event was for his own relationship with Jesus. This was a reminder that the investments we make now in the lives of teenagers provide a spiritual foundation for them as they continue to mature in Christ.
This weekend, we will examine how we as a church can be a part of that story for our children and youth. I am sure there are plenty of people here at Chapel Hill who feel like I felt: inexperienced, not the right age, and lacking knowledge. But our God is great at using the willing to break through barriers and reach people for his kingdom.
I am excited to share this weekend about how we can lean into the gifts God has given us, and be a part of someone else’s story that makes an impact for years to come. I’m also thrilled for you to experience God’s work through our students, as they participate in leading at all three weekend services (Saturday at 6:30 pm, and Sunday at 9:00 and 10:45 am). Here are some next steps you can take this weekend:
Encourage our youth by donating to the “Youth Wall” fundraiser. Pick an envelope between 1 and 150 and donate that amount to provide scholarships for our kids to go on mission trips and summer camps.
Celebrate 20 years of children’s ministry as we say goodbye to Deb Robertson. Festivities will take place this Sunday at noon in the Gathering Place.
As I think about the things that formed me into the man I am, near the top of the list is my amazing dad. My dad was (and still is) a strong and seemingly fearless man. I still remember times—in the Yakima theater, in a public restroom, on the front door of a neighbor’s house—where dad stood up for and protected me and my sister. It actually scared me a little bit, seeing this tough side of my father, but it was also incredibly comforting to know that we were in his care. I have been told that I have a low tolerance for injustice. If that is so, Dad passed that on to me.
Dad also provided a model of integrity. He was (and is) a man of his word; a “handshake-is-enough” kind of a guy. He was a generous man. He taught me to tithe—to give my first 10 percent to the Lord. And he was ALWAYS the guy to pick up the check. Sometimes, I felt people took advantage of him, but he was willing to risk that. He never—never—never even hinted at a flirtation with another woman. He was utterly faithful to my mom. He was present at every important moment in my life, cheering from the stands or from afar. I still get calls from him on a Sunday afternoon telling me that it was a “great sermon.” And I still drink it up.
When I first learned that a majority of men my age had never heard their father speak to them the words, “I love you,” I almost didn’t believe it. My father had, for all of my life, told me he loved me and that he was proud of me. He still does—and it still matters. I could hardly believe that a kid could grow up without the verbal nourishment that a father’s unstinting praise provides.
No man is perfect, of course. But dads don’t need to be perfect. They just need to be good and present. My dad was (and is) both.
This weekend, we’re celebrating dads. For some, that’s a gift, for others pain, and for others sorrow. Whatever Father’s Day means to you, I hope you find healing this weekend as we explore the gift of fatherhood and the love of our God and Father.
Next steps you can take this weekend:
Bring the family (and some friends!) and celebrate Father’s Day at Chapel Hill. We’ll provide the root beer floats, putting station, bounce house, and music (classic rock at the Saturday 6:30 pm and Sunday 10:45 am services, and bluegrass on Sunday at 9:00 am)! Festivities occur after every service. This is a great opportunity to invite someone new to visit church with you.
Looking for support in your own personal and parenting journey? Try a LifeGroup!
We had a great time last weekend celebrating my wife Cyndi’s birthday! We went to worship, planted some veggies in our new garden, and walked down to the “Gig” to listen to the Shy Boys. Only problem was, we were one person down; our son Cooper joined us for the festivities, but we were without our daughter, Rachel. She sent a cool T-shirt that said, “I Got This T-Shirt from My Favorite Daughter.” And she called (along with a carload of colleagues, en route to a training event for Montreat College in North Carolina where she serves) to sing “Happy Birthday.”
But she wasn’t here. She was there where the Lord has called her. That’s part of what it means to be human. You are either here—or there. But you cannot be here AND there at the same time.
It is also what it meant for Jesus to be human. Jesus could do many remarkable things, as we are learning in our journey through Mark’s gospel. But he could only be in one place at one time. Oh, sometimes he appeared at that place in remarkable fashion—walking on the water or going through locked doors—but one of his limitations was that he could not be everywhere at once. We have a poignant reminder of that in the story of Lazarus when Jesus is in Galilee, his sick friend is in Bethany (90 miles south) and by the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus is dead.
That is why the church holy day of Pentecost matters so much. Jesus promised that after he left this earth, he would send his Holy Spirit, a person (not a thing) not bound by a material body. Which means that he could be with all of us, anywhere, all the time. We take Pentecost for granted, but before that time, the Holy Spirit only made occasional appearances. He would come in the Old Testament for a season, and then leave. But Jesus promised that he would send his Comforter to be with us forever; indeed, to live in us. And on Pentecost, he kept that promise.
Historically, Presbyterians have been (how should I say) a little cautious—a little nervous, perhaps—about the Holy Spirit and his unpredictable ways. (After all, as Jesus said, he is like the wind; he blows where he will!) Well—we at Chapel Hill are not that kind of Presbyterian! We welcome the Spirit, acknowledge his divinity, pray for his filling, and rejoice in his presence.
This weekend we celebrate Pentecost—and the third person of the Trinity—at Chapel Hill. Come join us! You could use the fill-up!
Here’s how can participate in the continuing work of the Holy Spirit that first entered the church 2,000 years ago...
Celebrate Pentecost with us this weekend! Wear red to worship and rejoice in God’s global work with us during the weekend services. Joseph Bataille, World Relief’s Country Director in Haiti, will join us.
Stay for On Earth as It Is in Heaven, a celebration of Chapel Hill’s global outreach opportunities from the past year. We’ll have a light lunch waiting in the Gathering place at noon on Sunday.
Well, they’re coming in! The graduation announcements, the graduation party invitation—this is the season when we celebrate and prepare to say goodbye to another class of high school seniors. My memories of our own kids’ graduation ceremonies—the Tacoma Dome crush—still seem so fresh to me even though Rachel and Cooper are now college (and seminary) graduates. Believe me, parents (and grandparents): these next four years are going to fly!
It also makes me mindful of how critical is the investment we make in the Christian education of our children. A recent Barna study suggests that nearly half of self-described “born again" Christians make commitments to Christ before the age of 13, 64% by the age of 18 and 77% by the age of 21. Put a different way, if you don’t reach a person for Christ before they are out of college, the chances of doing so drop to less than 1 in 4.
If these numbers are anywhere close to accurate, it should cause us to redouble our commitment to the Christian nurture of our young people. If we are serious about our Chapel Hill mission to “present everyone mature in Christ,” our Sunday (and, for us “Saturday”) school and youth ministries are an essential part of that mission.
That means we spend a lot of money trying to reach kids. It also means we continue to elevate the vision of what it means to be a “Sunday School” teacher or youth volunteer, inviting, challenging, and training our very best to pour themselves into the lives of young people to the end that, by the time seniors walk out our doors, they know and love the Jesus who knows and loves them.
One of our passions as a church is the raising up and sending of leaders. Well, I’d like to believe that many of the graduates we are sending off are among that number! Leaders for Christ who will have a kingdom impact wherever they are going. You become part of that when you support financially, when you pray for and when you volunteer with our children and young people.
So, as you watch those graduation announcements coming in, let your chest swell a little bit! You played an important part in those young lives. May it ever be so here at Chapel Hill.
I look forward to worship with you this weekend. It will be the last Sunday for our choir and bell season in the 9:00 am service and a communion service to boot! Don’t miss it…and bring a friend.
P.S. By the way, Fathers’ Day this year will be an incredible chance to invite that un-churched dad next door. Bouncy house, great food, putting lessons for dads and kids…I might even be chipping golf balls off the stage for some reason that we are still trying to justify (other than the fact that it will be very fun!) The 9:00 service will be Bluegrass music and Derek will be shredding it in the modern services. Don’t miss it…and start asking the dad who needs a little boost to get HIS kids into church.
So…do you recognize this? Any idea what it is? 1,000 points if you do!
Well, unless you were a sentient being in 1955 and an owner of the latest, greatest version of a Zenith television, you might not recognize a game changer when you are looking at it.
This, my fellow couch-potatoes, was the Zenith Flash-Matic. It was the very first TV remote control device. It used flashing lights to turn the TV on and off, change the volume and cycle between the channels…all three of them! Up until that moment, all TV viewers had to…brace yourself…GET UP off of their rear ends, WALK across the room, and TURN a knob (gasp) to adjust their TV sets.
But no more. Now you could aim your ray gun-shaped device at the idiot box and it would bow in submission. Next would come the Zenith Space Command which used ultrasonic waves to allow you to stay planted in your Barcolounger. And the rest…is technology history! Today, you can program your cell phone (or even your voice!) to control your appliances. But that moment…when they introduced the Flash-Matic…was a game changer. The dictionary defines “game changer” as a newly introduced element or factor that changes an existing situation or activity in a significant way. Well, I think you’ll agree that the Flash-Matic fit the bill!
Now imagine if someone could help us deal with vexing matters far more important than our channel selection? Rejection, scarcity, fear, fatherlessness…these are common and sometimes crushing human experiences. But Jesus’ life and teaching changed the way we can face these issues as we will discover this Memorial Day weekend when we launch our new sermon series, “Game Changer.” I can’t wait to see you there. And please consider inviting a friend! This series could be a “game changer” in their lives!
I was sitting in my classroom in Oxford on a cold Friday morning in January when two gentlemen, unfamiliar to me and the rest of the 19 students at the Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics, walked into the room. There was an empty seat next to me and one of them sat in it. I introduced myself to him, and he, in turn, told me he was a pastor from the Seattle area named Mark (but he clearly wasn't Mark Driscoll, who was the only Seattle-area pastor I knew). Professor John Lennox proceeded with his lecture on the New Atheism for the next two hours, but little did I know that that morning was going to change the course of my life forever.
The last two weekends we have been reflecting and celebrating the first of our two Beyond These Walls Initiatives. Two weeks ago, as we talked about Loving our Neighbor, we heard from Ron and Jan Coen of FISH Food Bank and the exciting news that we will be making a $100,000 lead matching gift to their new building campaign. Last weekend, as we talked about Making Disciples, we heard from Pastors Megan and Larry Hackman as they talked about our new church plant in Port Orchard, launching around Easter 2020.
This weekend we are going to celebrate the third of our Beyond These Walls initiatives: Sending Leaders. Over the course of our service you are going to hear from a variety of our leaders, and then, in the message, I will share my own story of how I went from a classroom in the basement of an Oxford building to a church 5,000 miles away in Gig Harbor, Washington. It's been quite the rollercoaster ride!
I hope you will come and join us, and invite a friend! I am sure they will enjoy their time and meet with God in a profound way through the music, prayers and message.