Mission | Identity | Theology
Everything we do at Hillcrest Church
flows out of our mission statement:
love God | grow together | care for the world
Each word of these three simple phrases has been carefully selected to represent the historic mission of the church, our identity, and our theological commitments. There are many ways in which they are indivisibly important, but each phrase can also be pulled out to carry its own weight and to draw attention to particular commitments. While we could never spell out all of the implications of this mission, a simple question like, “why are you SO committed to small groups” might be answered by saying that we are committed to the idea that we GROW BEST BY FOLLOWING JESUS TOGETHER.
Hillcrest Church Theology
What do we believe about the Bible?
WE BELIEVE the Old and New Testaments in their original languages are the divinely inspired revelation of God and His purpose to all mankind. In the words of the Bible itself, “…men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.[i]” We accept the Bible as our all-sufficient rule for faith and conduct.[ii]
What do we believe about God?
WE BELIEVE there is one God, existing eternally in three persons; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.[iii]
WE BELIEVE in God the Father as revealed in the Bible and in creation. He is the Father of Jesus Christ and Creator of all humankind. He has always existed and He always will exist. He is the Creator and Ruler of the universe. Of course we can’t explain the mystery of God, but we accept as fact the revelation of His existence.[iv]
WE BELIEVE in God the Holy Spirit, who touches the lives of individuals in many ways, comforting the Christian and bearing witness to God’s work in the world.[ix] It is the Spirit working within that brings salvation to the person who comes to God in faith.[x] In addition, Christians may also be filled with the Spirit in an experience different from and following salvation.[xi] To be “filled” with the Spirit means to be controlled, borne along, and permeated by the Spirit.
WE BELIEVE that it is not only the believer’s privilege, but responsibility to be filled with the Spirit,[xii] to manifest “the fruit of the Spirit,”[xiii] and to exercise all the various “gifts of the Spirit”[xiv] for the edification of the Church as well as the individual.[xv]
The filling of the Holy Spirit will, therefore, empower the believer to spread the gospel and to live the full and faithful life God has promised and expects. The Scriptures reveal this as the normal experience for Christians and teach that every believer should earnestly seek and expect this filling.
Of course, the final evidence of the filling of the Holy Spirit is in the life of the Christian. It leads to a deeper reverence for God, a growing sensitivity in worship,[xvi] and an intensified dedication to Christ’s work.[xvii]
What do we believe about humans and their needs?
WE BELIEVE men and women were created good and upright, in fact, in the image of God. But by choosing to disregard and disobey God’s command, they cut off their close relationship with the Creator and introduced suffering and death into humanity.[xviii]
Humanity’s only hope for fulfillment, satisfaction, and restoration to God is the forgiveness God has provided through the death of Jesus Christ. Every individual can be restored to fellowship with God by asking forgiveness for sin and believing in God’s Son.[xix]
Therefore, we believe that all have sinned and need a Savior; that salvation is through repentance for sins and through faith in Jesus Christ.[xx]
What ordinances do we practice? (An ordinance of the church is an outward, visible sign of an inward, invisible grace.)
WE BELIEVE the ordinance of the Communion should be observed by all Christians. This is to be done in remembrance of Jesus’ atoning death, in celebration of His resurrection and anticipation of His return to earth.[xxi] We also practice water baptism by immersion as a believer’s public declaration of his identification with Jesus Christ and of his new relationship with God through faith.[xxii]
We do not baptize infants, but we encourage parents to dedicate their children to the Lord in a public worship service.
What do we believe about sanctification (process of becoming more like Jesus)?
WE BELIEVE sanctification is an act of our separation from that which is evil and of our dedication unto God.[xxiii] This means: to be set apart for the use for which God intends and not our own; to be His instrument, and to walk in conformity with His ways.[xxiv]
What do we believe about the church?
WE BELIEVE that as a body of believers at Hillcrest Church we are called to embody an IDENTITY that honors Jesus and our mission and reaches our neighbors. Our IDENTITY is WHO we strive to be and the WAY in which we desire to go about fulfilling our mission:
- We strive to be HONEST – As the Pacific Northwest becomes an increasingly post-church culture we think people deeply desire genuine honesty. So, we work to stay clear of religious pretension or artificial emotions. Together we simply commit to honesty about the world, our own lives, and the journey with Jesus.
- We strive to be both INTELLECTUALLY and SPIRITUALLY DEEP – These two streams have always run intermingled at Hillcrest. We are privileged to be located one mile from Western Washington University and have more than 45 years of committed engagement among the students and thinkers of Whatcom County. This mission field complements our more than 70 years as a passionate, Holy Spirit-empowered missionary movement in the Pacific Northwest. As these two historic commitments intertwine we remain committed to loving God with our whole mind, heart and spirit.
- We strive to be a DIVERSE and HIGHLY RELATIONAL COMMUNITY – We get to live in Bellingham Washington, a delightfully eclectic and growing community. We seek to be a healthy reflection of our city and the broader worldwide community of Jesus followers. This is why we work hard at building genuine relationships at every level of our community, among all kinds of people, to create more opportunities for actual face-to-face friendships.
- We strive to be CREATIVE and FUN – We have a long commitment to the arts and creative expression at Hillcrest. Our history involves the making of worship albums, art shows, dance, poetry and more. We think Jesus style community should be one of the most imaginative places on earth. And while we take our mission seriously, we still love to laugh, play games, take adventures and enjoy life together!
- We strive to be INVITATIONAL and HOSPITABLE – In an increasingly lonely society, we take our model from Jesus who took on flesh and moved into our neighborhood. In the same way, we want to engage the “neighborhoods” of our lives, looking for ways to invite others in to know Jesus and to enjoy authentic community. Therefore we will go out of our way to make guests feel welcome in our homes, in our neighborhoods, at work, and at our church.
- We strive to be COMPASSIONATE – We are surrounded by a variety of needs in Whatcom County. Among which Hillcrest has an especially long history of caring for foster and adopted kids. We increasingly endeavor to address needs around the world, but keep our hearts especially tender toward the broken, and hurting right here at home.
- We strive to be GENEROUS – We want to be generous with our thoughts towards one another, with our time, our homes, our abilities, and our finances. Furthermore we aim to be a church that courageously sends our people and resources around the world with the Good News about Jesus.
WE BELIEVE God has ordained that gifts are to be given to the church. Among the gifts given are:
- Every good and perfect gift.[xxx]
- Manifestations of the Spirit which are also given to each one as the Spirit determines for the common good.[xxxi]
- Gifts of grace[xxxii] which are given individually to each person in the Body of Christ to enable them to function as members of the Body.[xxxiii]
- Servant leaders, including deacons who are called to be worthy of respect[xxxiv] and servants of the Body who enable ministry to go forward[xxxv], as well as pastors/teachers/elders[xxxvi] who are called to be shepherds of God’s flock,[xxxvii] servants of the Body, models of spiritual life[xxxviii] and equippers of the saints.[xxxix]
What do we believe about healing?
WE BELIEVE healing is an integral part of the good news God has for the world and that God heals sickness today as in Bible times on the basis of the suffering and death of His Son.[xl]
We do not pretend to understand everything about healing, but the Scriptures are clear that when one is sick he may pray in expectation of healing.[xli]
The biblical doctrine of healing does not oppose the practice of modern medicine neither does it preclude the proper use of medication. Healings should be confirmed by proper authorities.[xlii]
What do we believe about the future?
WE BELIEVE God will intervene in human affairs to bring history to a climax and usher in a better world, even though there is little to prompt optimism from a human point of view. This will include judgment upon a corrupt world system, including unscriptural religious structures, in a period termed the “Great Tribulation.”
WE BELIEVE that Jesus will return, defeat Satan and consummate His kingdom purposes.
WE BELIEVE there will be a final judgment of the wicked of all ages and they will be judged at the great white throne. At that time whoever is not written in the Book of Life will be consigned to everlasting punishment.[xliii]
WE BELIEVE according to His promises that we can look for a new heaven and a new earth—the home of righteousness.[xliv]
[i] II Peter 2:21 NASB
[ii] II Tim. 3:15-17
[iii] Deut. 6:45; Is. 43:10-11; Matt. 28:19; Luke 3:22
[iv] Deut. 6:4; Is. 43:10-11; Matt. 28:19; Mark 12:29
[v] Matt. 1:23; Luke 1:31, 35
[vi] I Cor. 15:3; II Cor. 5:21
[vii] Matt. 28:6; Luke 24:39; I Cor. 15:4
[viii] Acts 1:9, 11; 2:33; Phil. 2:9-11; Heb. 1-3
[ix] John 16:13-14
[x] John 3:8; Rom. 8:11
[xi] Acts 2:4; 4:31; Eph. 5:18
[xii] Eph. 5:15-20
[xiii] Gal. 5:22-26
[xiv] 1 Cor. 12:7-11; Rom. 12; 1 Peter 4:10-11
[xv] 1 Cor. 14:4-5, 12, 16-17, 31, 39-40; Acts 4:31; 6:5, 8; 9:17; 11:24
[xvi] Eph. 5:18-20
[xvii] Acts 4:31-37; Rom. 12:1-2
[xviii] Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:17; 3:6; Rom. 5:12-19
[xix] John 3:3, 16, 17; Acts 20:21; Rom. 10:8-13
[xx] Rom. 3:23; 5:12-19; Luke 24:27; John 3:3; Rom. 10:1315; Eph. 2:8; Tit. 2:11; 3:5-7
[xxi] I Cor. 11:17-34
[xxii] Matt. 28:19; Rom. 6:4
[xxiii] Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 4:20-5:21; I Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:12
[xxiv] John 17:17-19
[xxv] Eph. 1:22-23; 2:22
[xxvi] John 17:18; Mark 16:15-18
[xxvii] I Cor. 12:17
[xxviii] Eph. 4:16
[xxix] I Cor. 12:12-26
[xxx] James 1:17
[xxxi] I Cor. 12:1-11
[xxxii] Eph. 4:7
[xxxiii] Rom. 12:3-8; Eph. 4:16; I Cor. 12:12-27
[xxxiv] I Tim. 3:8-12
[xxxv] Acts 6:1-4
[xxxvi] Eph. 4:11
[xxxvii] I Pet. 5:1-2
[xxxviii] I Pet. 5:3; I Tim. 3:1-7; Tit. 1:5-9
[xxxix] Eph. 4:12
[xl] Is. 53:45; Matt. 8:16-17
[xli] James 5:12-16
[xlii] Matt. 8:1-4
[xliii] Matt. 25:46; Mark 9:43-48; Rev. 19:20; 20:11-15; 21:8
[xliv] 2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21