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North Hills Embodies Innovation

Conferences Southern California North Hills Embodies Innovation

By Lauren Lacson

What comes to your mind when you think of innovation? Perhaps you think of new ideas, fresh perspectives, creative processes, and unique projects.
At North Hills church, innovation is about all this and more. In fact, just three months after Pastor Tim Cress joined this congregation in July 2018, he took the board on a retreat to examine their purpose and context. This retreat was the springboard for a new mission statement, supporting values, and standard operating objectives for the church. “It’s nice to have clear direction,” Cress shared. “When you know what you’re all about, it makes all the other decisions easy.”

A complete revisioning of the children’s ministry wing has started with the preschool clubhouse and elementary laboratory. Next up is the middle school surf shack and the high school beach house. “The themes just make it feel fun and engaging so that the kids want to be present each week with their small groups,” Cress noted.

“My experience with North Hills has been very good,” shared Bob Thomas, a regular attendee and volunteer since May 2019. “Coming from Denver, they welcomed me with open arms, telling me, ‘Welcome home.’ To me, that’s huge, given what I’ve been through over the last 20 years.”
Every four to six months, one of the standard operating objectives becomes the church’s “thematic goal,” guiding their focus and effort in a specific area. The thematic goal that was the main focus this spring revolves around community groups, and 100 people became involved soon after the launch. “People grow best in community—in small groups, not in large groups,” Cress asserted. “We as a board said, ‘Our mission is to develop passionate disciples. If the best way that happens is in small groups—and we think it is—then our goal is to get people into groups.’”
Another new and exciting possibility is that of an online campus, which will potentially launch in early 2020. Some people who do not live locally, but participate in the livestream of the church services, have requested membership at North Hills. “What attracts people to North Hills is the friendliness of the congregation,” Thomas said. “We are still learning new ways of dealing with this life, leaning on the Holy Spirit to guide, and are eager to learn more, to be able to pass that information and experience to others who are struggling with this life and with God.”
“We want to be able to disciple and support members online in effective ways, just as we do for those who are here with us in person,” Cress continued. “So, we are trying to create our ‘online campus’ as a place to take classes online, download small group curriculum with the rest of the church, experience workshops to help people grow, and experience accountability with others.”
“The one thing you can’t get unless you’re at a church is a ministry for your kids—something that is effective that can engage them in faith,” Cress noted. “Next Gen is the most important thing that any church does.” That’s why the church decided to give extra attention to the children’s ministry rooms earlier this year; these spaces had opportunities to be improved to better suit the ministry being done within their walls.
“The church doesn’t just have a mission statement—we have things we actually want to do,” Cress said. “Whatever it takes. In the end, we want to say, ‘Hey, we tried everything we could.’”

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