Why a New Church?

Since the beginning of the church age, God has been advancing his kingdom through the expansion of the local church. From the time of Paul to the 21st century, our call has been to go, preach the gospel, and build God’s church. In fact, some have argued that, “the single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches” (C. Peter Wagner). Therefore, it is our belief that planting new churches is not an option, but an imperative and an urgent task that the church is called to engage in.

Thus, we desire to plant a new church in West Chicago, Illinois that exists to bring glory to God and affect gospel change by gathering God’s people and growing them to be like Jesus. Our earnest hope is that this new church, founded in a spirit of grace, will be a God-glorifying, Christ-exalting, Spirit-led, prayer-saturated, gospel-advancing, truth-driven, theologically-sound, disciple-making, love-showing, hope-giving, justice-pursuing, holistically-minded, needs-meeting, mercy-overflowing, and compassion-filled church.

Kingdom Partnership with New Century Church

PartŸnerŸship (English) / KaŸtuŸwang (Tagalog)

def.) the state of being a partner – having shared priorities, interests, and efforts

At Mercy Hill Church we believe that the mission of God is to make disciples. We want to see as many people as possible experience the sin-cleansing, shame-removing, life-changing, world-altering power of the Gospel. We exist to share this news and our lives with those who live and work in our communities and around the world. We desire to be a culturally engaged, church-planting church that seeks to see the Gospel spread locally and globally.

As a central feature to help us fulfill our desire to help make disciples globally, we want to develop partnerships with like-minded churches as God leads. The first of these is with New Century Church (NCC) in Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines.

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Craig & Kathy with the Pullian family

Why a partnership with New Century Church?

  • History. The Sturms have been ministering in various ways with NCC since 1998. This brings a natural, well-established relationship of trust and mutual support.
  • Shared Priorities. NCC and MHC both prioritize bringing the Gospel to those in their communities in culturally appropriate ways. We both have lessons to teach each other on how we can be faithful to this priority.
  • Shared Interests. NCC and MHC both have a strong interest to see new churches planted at the community level. NCC is in the final year of their goal to see seven mission sites started from the original church. MHC has and can continue to learn much about starting new churches from NCC.
  • Shared Efforts. We envision MHC joining with NCC in the effort to get the Gospel out to her communities. In addition, NCC has requested help in establishing and training her mission leaders.

What will this partnership look like initially?

We have a modest budget to seed this partnership for FY2014-15. Our goal is to walk slowly into the partnership, making sure we are doing what is helpful for both churches. Most importantly, we have started and will increasingly weave NCC into our prayer – personally and corporately. Of the specific options that the NCC leaders gave us, we will be considering supporting the following initiatives…

  • A Christmas gift to help bless the pastors and mission workers who receive no compensation for their faithful labor.
  • A special project to support the Child Development ministry at NCC’s Kay-Anlog Mission Church.
  • We may decide to send one or two of our leaders over to help train NCC leaders as they begin to develop their International Academy of Integral Ministry training center.

Please be praying for God’s will in this new Kingdom Partnership!

Rest Secure in the Mighty God! (Advent reflection from Isaiah 9:6-7)

advent14This past Sunday we continued to draw our hearts to Behold Your Savior! After last week’s reflection on Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor, we saw the beautiful connection of that with Jesus as the Mighty God. A key thought from the message:

Jesus not only knows what is best (as “Wonderful Counselor”), he can assure that it will happen because he is the all-mighty, all-powerful God of the universe! This is our Jesus. This is our Savior! This is a truth we can rest secure in and not be shaken!

Click to listen to the sermon: Rest Secure in the Mighty God! Other messages from the Behold Your Savior! Advent Series.

Jesus: The Wonderful Counselor

advent14Mercy Hill is in the midst of a special Advent series. Last Sunday, Bob Vishanoff preached from Isaiah 9:6-7, specifically focusing in on Jesus as the Wonderful Counselor. Here is a taste of what he shared:

“The more we trust and are confident in God’s faithfulness the less we need to know about what the future holds because we trust in The One who controls it.”

Listen to the sermon: Listen to the Wonderful Counselor

Powerful Faith is a Faith that Prays

indexBy God’s grace we were able to gather and worship together through the Word this past Sunday. The main theme of the text in Mark 9:14-29 we explored was, “powerful faith is a faith that prays.”

I opened by explaining it this way…

Prayer is the outward action of faith that says, “I am weak. I am limited. I rely on your power God. I rely on your wisdom. In my weakness would your strength be seen. Without you I can do nothing. With you all things are possible.”

Click to listen to the sermon: Powerful Faith is a Faith that Prays, from the series in Mark, Jesus the Servant King.

God’s Kingdom, God’s Way

indexThis past Sunday, Mike Daling was with us, preaching from Mark 9:2-13. The main point of the text (Jesus’ transfiguration) that he brought out was that God was calling the disciples to see Jesus as he really is, and to “Listen to Him“. A phrase that has stuck with me is “We want God’s kingdom in our way, according to our time, etc.” Instead we ought to seek God’s kingdom in God’s way (connected back to Jesus’ “take up your cross and follow me” statement in 8:34). To have a better sense of this idea, click to listen to the message Listen to Him and be encouraged.

The Necessity of Jesus’ Suffering

indexThis past Sunday, we were back in Mark. Our text was 8:31-9:1; 9:30-32; and 10:32-33 – three times that Jesus predicted the necessity of his suffering, death, and resurrection that was soon to come. This quote from the ESV Study Bible is a great summary to why Jesus’ suffering was necessary.…

”Christ’s death is necessary because the eternal messianic rule of God begins with atonement for sin – the sacrifice that will bring about reconciliation between God and man.”

Click to listen to The Necessity of Jesus’ Suffering.

The Amazing Faith of An Outsider (Mark 7:24-30)

indexAs we looked at the interaction between Jesus and a gentile mom in Mark 7:24-30, we saw that the main focus was not on the incredible miracle Jesus performed (delivering her daughter from a demon), but was instead on her amazing faith. For Jesus, her simple, profound faith was a breath of fresh air that “dramatically contrasted with the hardened unbelief of the Pharisees and scribes, and even outshined the understanding of the disciples” (R. Kent Hughes).

How does our faith compare with hers? Listen…

Questions for Community Group & Family Discussion from Mark 7:24-30

UntitledWhen our Community Groups get together, one of the things they do is to talk through the sermon from that weekend, with a goal of application and life transformation. Yesterday, we jumped back into our Gospel of Mark series, Jesus the Servant King. Our passage was Mark 7:24-30, and the sermon titled The Amazing Faith of An Outsider.

To help you prepare for the time of worship in the word, we’re beginning to send these questions out before the worship service. Below are the discussion questions Community Group leaders will use. We’d encourage you to use these to: 1) prepare your heart for worship; 2) prepare for Community Group; and/or 3) discuss with your family or friends if you’re unable to make it to Community Group.

Introductory Question

  • Can you think of a time when someone unlikely did some thing completely unexpected?

Reflection Questions

  • Read the passage together…General thoughts and/or observations?
  • How does the woman make her request known to God? What’s the nature of her plea?
  • Is Jesus’ response harsh or hopeful? Explain either way.
  • What impresses you about the woman’s response to Jesus’ comment?

Application Questions

  • When you think about the woman’s faith, what characterizes it?
  • How does your own faith resemble that of the woman? Where does it need to grow?

Prayer

  • As you pray together: Praise God that he accepts the faith of outsiders like us –  that there is no distinction – any who believe are accepted! Pray that God would grow your faith to reflect the faith of the woman; that we as a church would be people of such simple, deep faith!

Why Am I A Christian?

MercyHillWhyIamAChristian2This Sunday, we wrapped up our brief series Why Am I A Christian?. Three simple messages in which I reflected and gave my answer to that important question. In case you missed any of those Sundays, here is a link to the audio recordings…