So more people can experience life with God.

The Current Blog

Loving Community

While it may be the practice or reality for some, the thought of church without community is biblically incoherent. There are just too many “one anothers” in the Bible. And consistent, Christ-centered community is just too transformational. Community is one of the three places every Christian should put themselves.

We love community at Hillside. As we head into another semester of community groups here, we’re seeing almost 80% of the church involved. That’s great!

If you are in a group, we’re praying for you and your group. Lean into these one anothers this semester, and also keep in mind this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer–it’s a timely reminder to avoid idealizing the perfect community and to actually love the people you’re with.

“Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

If you are not in a group yet, we would love to get you connected to one! There’s more info here.


Church is a Potluck

Church is a place where people expect to “be fed.” And that’s a good thing.

For some, church is like a restaurant. You go to the one with your favorite food or your favorite chef or the environment you prefer. You shop around for the church you like best, and you go every Sunday-ish to consume the meal prepared for you. This kind of experience makes you a customer.

Or we could approach church like a potluck. Everyone brings something. And everyone still gets fed.

Because we all have something to offer. Maybe it’s as simple as serving in some way that morning. Maybe it’s praying with others. Greeting and getting to know newer people. Giving your gifts and resources. But when the church gathers, what are you bringing to share? You’ll get fed too. But this kind of experience makes you a contributor.

Every time the church gathers, it’s a potluck. That’s the picture of a healthy church with maturing members.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  
Ephesians 4:11-13


2016 Highlights!

A very great God has used us in great ways this year. Thank you for being a part of it!

Why I Give to Hillside Church

I’m blessed to be the pastor of Hillside Church. I really am.

But I’m not just the pastor, Hillside is my church too.

I’m in a community group. My girls have grown up in our children’s and youth ministries. My family participates in the life of this church, and we financially support it too.

Sometimes people are surprised to hear that pastors give financially to their church, but I am committed to giving at least 10% of my income every month. Here are some of the reasons Kristin and I do this:

1.  I want to be an example to my kids and to others. Our culture tends to be pretty self-centered, so I want to be a counter-cultural example of generosity because I believe selflessness is a better way to live and glorify God.

2.  I believe in our mission of making disciples. I want “more people to experience life with God.” Those aren’t just words printed on a banner, they are worthy of my attention, resources, and finances.

3.  I want to make a difference. When I give to Hillside, I’m investing in the kingdom and making a dent in eternity. Read the year-end letter or watch the video below to remember some of the great things Hillside has been able to do this year!

Those are just three reasons Kristin and I give to Hillside, and also why we’re giving a special year-end gift in these last few days of 2016.

I’d love to invite you to join me.

December is a big month for Hillside– we budget for extra giving in these last few days. Maybe you can give a little, or a lot, or maybe there’s a crazy generous amount that’s been put on your heart!

Your financial support means so much and sustains the ministry Hillside.

Here’s a link to our online giving option. You can review your giving or set up new giving. (You can also mail a check as long as it’s dated and postmarked by December 31).

If you have any questions about the church finances, we do have more info here.

Thank you!
Pastor Matt



A Fresh Perspective on Interrupted Worship

But Jesus called the children to him and said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18:16)

This Advent season we have purposefully included more of our Hillside kids in the worship service. We thought this fresh perspective on interrupted worship was worth sharing for parents, and for all of us!

Those who have attended worship with small children for a period of years, as I have, might begin to feel that the effort expended in the fight for focus isn’t worth the seemingly small return received during the service. Amid sibling squabbles, trips to the bathroom, feet on the back of the pew in front of you, and misplaced comments it is easy to surrender to weariness and give up, going through the motions instead of reaching for fresh grace.

Read the whole article at


What If I Don’t Want to Sing?

We want to share this article with you from, “What If I Don’t Want to Sing?”

Click the link below to keep reading. It’s great!


At our church, everyone shows up ready to sing with full hearts each Sunday morning.

Nobody arrives after a tense car ride to church, or a difficult morning with children, or a late night of studying, or a long week of work.

Everyone is well-rested and eager to make melody to God.

Except, not really.

Read more… 

Three places to put yourself

My guess (hope really) is that at some point you’ve wondered how Christian growth happens. Maybe you’ve been surprised when it happens. Surprised when it doesn’t. Surprised by how hard it is to measure or replicate. Me too.

I don’t think there are formulas in the Christian life. God is too big and creative for a one-size-fits-all formula. But there are patterns, principles, and all sorts of things we can “do” to tend to our soil and participate in the process of growth.

But instead of “more things you can do” to grow, I want to share three places to put yourself as a follower of Jesus. Three places that I think are non-negotiable for a maturing Christian life.

There’s no guarantee of growth here, but I’m just a few keystrokes shy of guaranteeing that you won’t grow without them.

  1. The crowd of corporate worship
  2. The community of a smaller group
  3. Contribution as a servant

It is taking incredible restraint for me to not write nine sub points for each of those, along with the other dozens of things that can contribute to our spiritual growth. But think of these three “places” as the three legs of a stool.  They are the basics.

When you play basketball, there’s lots to learn, do, practice.  But the “fundamentals” of hoops would be:

  1. Show up
  2. Dribble & pass
  3. Shoot

Is there more to basketball? Yes. Are you going to become a better player without doing those things over and over and over (and over) again?  Nope.

If you’re wondering what’s next… how to grow… why you’re not growing… can I encourage you to take a thoughtful look at these three things? The top list, not the basketball one.

How to (not) grow: Don’t Take Responsibility for the Condition of Your Soil

In the Parable of the Sower/Soils (Luke 8), Jesus describes some of the reasons people do or don’t receive the gospel, as well as what gets in the way of people growing in the gospel.

Here’s the lesson from the good soil: You won’t grow much if your soil isn’t in good shape.
And good soil doesn’t just happen. It requires some attention. That’s really the takeaway from the Parable of the Sower/Soils– Jesus wants his listeners and followers to pay attention to the condition of their soil. Their souls. And even take personal responsibility for it.
To put it another way: You won’t grow much if you don’t pay attention to and take responsibility for the condition of your soil (soul).

Jesus says that our salvation is like being born again. We are brought from spiritual death to spiritual life, through faith in Christ. We are all “baby Christians” to start, and the Christian life is about growing up in the faith. Not just older, but more mature.

And, just like a baby growing into a mature adult, this doesn’t “just happen.”

In most churches we’re not only saved by grace, we’re paralyzed by it… Grace is not opposed to effort; it’s opposed to earning. 
– Dallas Willard

There are so many things we can do to encourage growth. We know these things. Good things. Things like studying God’s word, praying faithfully, personal and corporate worship, serving and loving others, and so on.
These things will, hopefully, help us to see God more clearly and love Him more deeply.
These things will, hopefully, encourage our hearts to cling to God’s grace and surrender to his salvation.

These things will, hopefully, always point us to the gospel and help us grow selflessly.

But one thing that’s key to Christian maturity isn’t just doing these things, it’s taking personal responsibility for where your heart and soul is at with God and others.

8 Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.
15 But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
– Jesus (Luke 8)

Yes, there are things mature Christians do.

And there are things mature Christians are.
But perhaps the most significant thing a mature Christian does is take responsibility for the condition of their own heart and soul and life– their soil.  But this doesn’t mean it’s a solo project. Invite others into it. Ask others to help. Seek God’s powerful presence in your life.
But it’s your soil to keep.  And you are God’s to grow.

How to (not) grow: Love lesser things more than God

In the Parable of the Sower/Soils (Luke 8), Jesus describes some of the reasons people do or don’t receive the gospel, as well as what gets in the way of people growing in the gospel.  For followers of Jesus, anything that gets in the way of spiritual maturity is worth looking at more closely!

We’ve already looked at the hard path and the rocky soil.  Here’s what the soil full of weeds teaches about how to *not* growLet your heart love and trust lesser things more than God. 

“The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.” Luke 8:14

I get worried when I trust something more than God. I get distracted when I love and desire something more than God. This is a real temptation for us as human creatures. And it takes a lifetime to love and trust God the most. But that is what He wants for us because this is what’s best for us.

God doesn’t say to trust no one.  God doesn’t say to love no one.  But if we love those thingsmore than God, then our hearts will be drawn away from God in a way that hinders our spiritual maturity. 

In relation to worry, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Luke 12:34

If someone looked at your calendar, your checkbook, maybe listened to your conversations, what would they say you love the most?

Too often in the Christian faith we take a posture of “try harder” when it comes to growth and maturity, but this is clearly a heart issue.  God can change our hearts if we let Him and ask Him. So ask him today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

If we don’t feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because we have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Our soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened.  -John Piper, A Hunger for God

How to (not) grow: Expect the Christian life to be easy

In the Parable of the Sower (or Soils), Jesus describes the different reasons people do or don’t receive the gospel, as well as what gets in the way of growing in the gospel. For followers of Jesus, anything that gets in the way of spiritual maturity is worth looking at more closely!
We’ve already talked about the overall purpose of spiritual growth and the difference between growing and maturing.  And we’ve talked about the lesson from the first soil in the parable– the hardened path– which is: don’t ignore the spiritual battle.
Another way to not grow, from the second soil, is to expect the Christian life to be easy.

And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture…  …And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.  Luke 8:6,13

That may seem like a weird barrier to spiritual maturity, but if we expect the Christian life to be easy… if we expect that by following Jesus that God will make everything in our lives good… then when that doesn’t happen there will be an unavoidable and uncomfortable tension.
That tension can shipwreck a person’s faith.
That tension forces us to answer the question– usually again and again– why am I following Jesus? Is it because I am loved? Because the gospel gives life and hope? Because it’s true?

Embracing the fact that following Jesus doesn’t make everything good or easy all the time, gives us permission to endure any “times of testing” and to do so with God. And this perseverance through the struggle is where God does some of his best work in us and matures us as followers of Jesus.

Sometimes other people just say it better. Here is James Bryan Smith:

  Jesus never promises that our lives will be free of struggle. In fact, he said quite the opposite: “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 KJV).
We should expect to go through heartache and pain, suffering and loss, because they are part of what it means to be human, and they can be useful in our development. As James said, “My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
I have grown much more through my trials than I have through my successes. I do not ask for trials… but I am learning to trust God in the midst of them.
— James Bryan Smith, The Good and Beautiful God 

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