We see the Christian life a little differently then some churches. God desires to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus (Romans 8:29), and transform us by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). This is the sanctification process; growing and maturing in Christ. We believe that true, biblical sanctification involves three different aspects: the head, the hands, and the heart. We also believe that the church should have specific strategies to promote all three of these aspects in the lives of God’s people, and so in everything we do, we try to accomplish this.
We believe there are things God wants us to know, namely His Word. In the Gospel of John, Jesus prayed, “Father, sanctify them in your truth. Your Word is Truth” (John 17:17). So for starters, the church needs a strategy to help God’s people get into the Word of God and get the Word of God into them. Most Bible believing churches have some form of strategy for this aspect.
We believe there are not only things that God wants us to know, there are also things that God wants us to do. The Christian life isn’t just about knowing God’s Word, but responding to it. The book of James says, “But be doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (James 1:22). Jesus is the Head of the body, and we are its members (1 Cor. 12:12-26). We believe in using our spiritual gifts to serve others so that the Body of Christ becomes a visible expression of the life of Jesus in the world (Matt. 25:40).
Not only are there things that God wants us to know, and things God wants us to do, but there is someone God wants us to be, and we become that person when our hearts are addressed. The heart is so important. The Proverbs tell us that it is the “wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23). Jesus often addressed the heart in His teaching, whether it was adultery or anger, Jesus looked past the action and went straight to the heart (Matt. 5:21-30). The heart cannot be neglected in the sanctification process, and unfortunately, this is where the breakdown often takes place.
The hurts, rejections, and abuses that all of us experience at some level as we walk through this world have a profound effect on the way we relate to our Heavenly Father, and unless those wounds are addressed we cannot experience the deepest intimacy we so desire as Christians. Because most churches do not have a specific strategy for helping people experience the healing of the wounds of their hearts, often people hide their wounds and hurts, keep secrets, and never experience the emotional healing that is needed.
We hold a truth at City on a Hill that we have seen worked out in people’s lives over and over and that is, “The heart always trumps the head and the hands.” If someone does not address the wounds of their heart, eventually those wounds will override everything they know that is right, and everything they are doing that is right, and it will sabotage their lives. The Freedom Ministry is a strategy to allow people to address the wounds of the heart, the third leg of sanctification.
In order to really address the heart, the church must be a safe place for people to let go of their secrets, and provide a safe process for people to grow in spiritual and emotional maturity in Christ.
The church must be a safe place
It is important for the church to be a safe place. In fact, it is even a part of our vision statement. Our vision statement is, “Making church a safe place for people to let go of their secrets, and providing a safe process for people to grow in spiritual and emotional maturity in Christ.” If the church is not a safe place, then people will not let go of their secrets, and when we say “let go of their secrets,” what we mean is, people won’t feel comfortable talking about the real issues that are going on in their life. They will put their church face on, and say all of the typical stuff you here at church: “Hi, how are you? Bless you! God is good, all the time.” However, one day, they will crater, and everyone will be left asking the questions, “Didn’t they love Jesus? How could they do that? How could they have an affair? How could they be hiding the fact that they are an alcoholic? Or a porn addict? Or a fill in the blank?” But the reality is, the church wasn’t a safe place for them to talk about what was really going on in their marriage, or the addictions they were hiding, or the abuse from their childhood. And so they never talked about it. The church must be a safe place, or people never let go of their secrets. And what better place for people to be transparent is there than the church?
The church must have a safe process
Beyond being a safe place, the church also should have a safe process. What do we mean by process? When you think about it, churches have processes for everything that has value. It is generally a value of a church for people to know God’s Word, and so churches have processes or strategies to meet that value: Bible study. In the same way, if we value people letting go of their secrets, then we it is necessary for there to be a process for this to happen, and for City On a Hill, that process is the Freedom Group.
A Freedom Group is a small group of 8 to 15 people working through Biblically-based material. The Freedom Group is led by a facilitator (not a teacher), and has specific meeting guidelines that are followed each meeting. The Freedom Group may be a closed group, which lasts approximately 13 weeks, and does not allow new participants in the group after the second week. There are also open groups, which are always open to new participants all year long. The material in an open group is structured so that each week can stand alone, so that a newcomer is able to understand and participate immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions? Below are some frequently asked questions with answers provided. If you have any additional questions, feel free to call one of our pastors. We would love to have a conversation with you over a cup of coffee.
WHAT IS THE EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE?
Answer: The Emotional/Spiritual principle is a principle that states, “Your spiritual maturity will never go beyond your emotional maturity.”
Restated, your spiritual growth will never go beyond your emotional growth. Your level of emotional maturity will always create a ceiling for your spiritual maturity. In other words, you can never have a more intimate relationship with God than you are capable of having with other people. If you desire to grow deeper in an intimate relationship with the Heavenly Father, you must grow in your capacity to have deeper, intimate, soul-to-soul relationships with others.
IS THERE A BIBLICAL BASIS FOR THE EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE?
Answer: Yes, there are several passages that speak to this.
Scriptural References: 1 Jn. 4:7-8, 20; Matt. 5:23-24; Matt. 6:12 I Cor. 3:1-3 Heb. 12:14-15; Rom. 2:1-5; Js. 3:13-18; 1 Jn. 2:9-11; Mal. 2:10
(For more explanation of the Emotional/Spiritual principle in relation to these scriptures, please refer to:
WHY IS THE EMOTIONAL/SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLE SO IMPORTANT TO MY CHRISTIAN WALK?
Answer: Our wounds have an emotional source but have emotional and spiritual results.
When I have “people problems” such as resentment, anger, shame, hate, lust etc., this is clearly described by the Bible as sin. What is the effect of sin in the Christians life? The Indwelling Holy Spirit is “grieved” (Eph. 4:30), and is “quenched” (1 Thess. 5:17). Since God is Spirit, and it is by means of the indwelling Holy Spirit that we have communion with Him, then when the Spirit is “grieved” and “quenched,” our ability to experience intimacy with God is hindered.
WHAT IF MY LIFE IS ALREADY PRETTY GOOD?
Answer: The process isn't just for a special group of people; it's for everyone.
The safe process described above isn’t just for addicts or people with broken marriages and families. This is a process meant for everyone. As mentioned above, followers of Christ are sanctified in their heads (knowing), their hands (doing), and in their hearts (being). We believe it is important for Christians to be engaged in Bible studies (head), to actively serve (hands), and to address the wounds of the heart, however big or small they may be.
Once again, if you have any additional questions, feel free to contact one of our pastors by calling the church office at 817-451-5513. We would love to answer any further questions you might have.