Hey Grace Hills, we’re three years old! And during these three years, we’ve seen a lot of growth. We started with 30 people in an office and had about 70 when we got ready to launch six months later. We averaged 140 in worship attendance during our first year at the Rogers Malco Cinema and have now grown to an average of about 210 and had over 300 for this past Easter. Approximately 75 have gone “all in” through baptism and we have nine strong small groups going, with a need for several more. Those numbers help us to know where we are as a church, but they don’t even begin to represent all the stories of life change we’ve witnessed.
Dozens of people have given their lives to Jesus, marriages have been saved, addicts have found help and committed to recovery, and people have stepped up to serve others. We’ve sent and supported missionaries to Nixa, Missouri, Thailand, Papua New Guineau and have begun planting a daughter church in Siloam Springs. And we’ve enjoyed a beautiful partnership with Grace Hill Elementary school and have invested hundreds of volunteer hours in the community through We Love NWA initiatives. A couple of our kids ministry leaders are launching BE:KIDS and it’s gonna be big. A lot has happened!
Who We Are
At the core of who we are is a very simple mission:
We exist to gather a community of people who are coming to know Jesus and serving others for the glory of God.
That’s a mission statement that very simply represents the five purposes we believe Jesus founded the church to accomplish.
- To gather people is evangelism. It’s how we grow larger.
- To gather a community is fellowship. It’s how we grow warmer.
- To gather a community of people who are coming to know Jesus is discipleship. It’s how we grow deeper.
- Serving others is ministry. It’s how we grow broader.
- And we do it all for the glory of God because everything we do is worship. It’s how we grow stronger.
To put it simply, we’re a purpose driven church. Rather than being driven by programs, buildings, budgets, politics, or denominational agendas, we’re driven by a great commitment to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It’s why I believe we’re growing into a great church.
What we do
We’ve always approached ministry in Northwest Arkansas in three ways, all modeled on the ministry approaches that Jesus took.
We invite people to come and see what we’re all about and what the gospel is all about. So we want to create the very best weekend gathering we possibly can, where things get real, where we focus on truth and grace, and where the gospel is always faithfully shared and connected to where we live life daily. (This is important. I’m coming back to this…)
We challenge people to come and die, which may sound odd if you’re unfamiliar with Jesus’ challenge to His disciples, but an “all in” commitment to Jesus means dying to self and coming alive to a whole new life in relationship with Jesus. It’s becoming like Him in every aspect of our character.
We send people to go and tell. Individually, as groups, and as a church, we’ll do anything to reach people far from God and multiply ourselves.
Where we do it
The “come and see” aspect of what we do – what we often call the gathering aspect – we’ve had the privilege of doing in a movie theater. Admittedly, that wasn’t the plan on day one when we started planting Grace Hills. But three months into our launch team gathering process, we decided to go for it and within a few months, it had opened my own eyes to a new way of thinking about where and how churches gather.
To put it simply, I’ve come to love the concept of a church that gathers right in the middle of the culture, in the marketplace, in what some refer to as the “third place.” Barriers are already broken down for guests, especially those who walk in knowing that they have hurts, habits, and hang-ups. We communicate strongly that we’re a church for the unchurched, the de-churched, and people who long for an environment that is shaped by radical grace.
Where we’ve been gathering is about to change.
I and the Grace Hills staff have spent many weeks praying, fasting, seeking God’s clear direction, and listening for His voice. This past week, we re-visited a spot we only briefly considered before. When the four of us met on the property, it was thirty minutes of confirmation. Here’s what stood out to us…
- It’s a “third place” where people come to do life beyond home and work.
- It’s right in the middle of all of Northwest Arkansas, so it’s highly visible.
- It’s a familiar place to people and to families.
- It’s an extremely kid-friendly place. There’s a “party room” for our nursery and a playground right out front.
- It’s an extremely teen-friendly place.
- It’s a clean, fresh place. The theater staff has done a great job keeping it in tip-top shape.
- It opens the door to minister to more of Northwest Arkansas and to people and families with all kinds of stories.
- It’s a theater, so it’s still casual, seeker-friendly, and community-oriented.
- It’s totally US. Trust me…
- It’s not permanent. It’s not “temporary” either. And with our vision of spreading and scattering all over the community as we grow, I’m not sure what “permanent” means for us anyway.
I’m excited!! Our staff is excited!! And I believe you’re going to be excited too!
The “Why” is what matters most
I remind myself of our core values constantly. As we move forward, we’re still going to believe the Bible completely, take big risks for a big God, do whatever it takes to reach the lost, make sure everybody belongs, be crazy about broken people, worship without holding back, walk with people on their journey to maturity, and bring out the best in people. And best of all, what’s next for us allows us to be fast, fluid, and flexible and to more firmly plant ourselves to multiply all over Northwest Arkansas!
Grace Hills, I love you, and I can’t WAIT to take this next leap with you!!! We’ll be meeting in our new space on Sunday, January 25th, 2015!!!