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Evangelizing Beyond Invitations to a Cool Church Service

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By Lillian Kwon, Christian Post Reporter
January 5, 2011|4:14 pm

It's easy to make ministry a "clock in and clock out" kind of job.

But a pastor in Utah is challenging that habit and trying to be on mission wherever he is – that means, not only inviting people to his newly planted church but also befriending neighbors and establishing relationships.

"We live in a 'drive in your garage and shut it quick and maybe give a quick wave' kind of place," said Pastor Charles Hill, who moved to South Jordan, Utah, in 2009, to start a church in a predominantly Mormon community.

He admitted he's guilty of that too.

"We chase our bank accounts, hobbies and free time more than true relationship as default mode," he said. "Not that we are doing this intentionally, but when you look at your hours spent, I bet one would be shocked at the hours we spend chasing the wrong things and have our priorities a bit or a lot misaligned, myself included."

But he reminds himself and wants to remind others that "God has put us where He wants us on purpose for a purpose."

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For Hill, that would be a city where some 80 percent of the population is Mormon.

Hill is in the middle of preparing for his church launch on Jan. 30. He left a growing church he founded in Ohio to start a new one in a state he feels is the most unchurched in the country. He said there is not one church that is not affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – which is headquartered in Salt Lake City – in 24-plus cities in the upper one-third of Utah.

He has a desire to reach people who need Jesus. Starting One Community Church is one way of doing it. Opening up his house is another way.

"[T]he goal of our church is not to get people to come to our cool service [alone...we want people to come and we want them inviting and engaging], but to build real, lasting friendships that will intersect with our lives," he said.

"If you have a goal of just 'converting' people or 'getting them to come to church,' they might come once, but without relationship, there is nothing to build on," the former police officer stressed.

Hill and his wife have been opening up their house to neighbors for years now. During Christmas, he had some 30 people over, most of whom were Mormon, for a simple open house. Surprisingly, though they attended the same LDS church, most of the guests did not know each other.

Though it would be amazing if his neighbors prayed the prayer, he doesn't try to force conversations on faith. Of course, as a pastor and church planter the conversation has been coming up easily. But he said his end goal is not to "convert'' people to his Christian faith during these open houses.

"Loving your neighbor" is the end goal, he highlighted.

"We moved here to live out the mission of Christ to love the world and make disciples. We will share His love with whomever He puts us into community with. We don't look at them as LDS or non-LDS, but friends, family and our kids friends as well."

Of course, being on mission wherever you are requires intentionality and effort. It's not always easy, Hill admitted.

"With my travel schedule, consulting schedule, fund raising, church planting demands, my family and their needs, my work-out training [I do marathons and triathlons] and I work a one day a week secular job, I can be just as guilty of disappearing into my own little world with little time and thought to build community and relationship with others that God has placed in my world," he said.

But he knows that leaving the door open could change a life forever.

"People don't care about what you do, or what you believe as much as they care about whether you really care about them or not," he said. "Crisis will come in their lives, and they will turn to you when that happens, but only IF real relationship with no strings attached is present.

"And as we love on them, they will see our love is rooted in Christ and hopefully respond to the Gospel."

 

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