Mercy Hill is a Christian community that exists to “help people thrive in Christ.” What do we mean by this? Thiving is a phrase that speaks of healthy growth.
We believe that Christians are healthy when they are immersed in the context of Gospel Communities that both learn about who God is and what He has done for us in Christ and then practically live that out (mission) to display His mercy to those who have yet to believe.
Gospel means "good news." But in order for there to be good news, we must first understand the bad news.
Mercy Hill is a traditional church in the sense that we actually believe that some people are, apart from Christ, lost and without hope of eternal life.
While lost may be a strong word, we believe that lostness is part of what defines the human race. As the old children’s nursery rhyme goes, “In Adam’s fall sinned we all.” This sin—which is rebellion against God—caused humanity to become fundamentally lost.
We do not believe that every person is as lost as he or she could be; but that in some primary way we all are lost and separated from our Creator God.
This concept of “lostness” touches on no insignificant matter. We believe eternal life and eternal death are at stake in the ministry of the Church.
Knowing our lostness, and seeking to make progress in our salvation, becomes a primary way of relating to Jesus and to others.
It means that our goal as Christians is to be "in Christ." Paul the Apostle wrote, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation." Being "in Christ" and part of His "new creation" is the first step of Christian growth.
Believing that Jesus is the Savior of sinners is an essential step but only the first step.
People who actually thrive in Christ don't leave that basic confession behind as they move onto other things; they continually return to the faith, the Gospel, and are helped to do so by their brothers and sisters in the Church (which is like a spiritual family).
They thrive. And this doesn't happen by accident.
We strive to thrive by honoring Jesus in our behavior, in our attitudes, in our words.
We follow Jesus to our own “crosses” that He, as a dying Savior, has taken up first, not only enabling us through His saving work, but setting an example for us to follow.
But this work is impossible on our own. It requires encouragement, literally: being given "courage" by others.
This kind of mutual encouragement we call Gospel Community and our focus is to build that kind of shared life both as we gather on Sundays for the Word and Sacrament, and as we meet in homes and neighborhoods around South Jersey during the week in small groups we call Crowded Houses.
The earliest followers of Jesus didn’t merely gather on one day a week for “fellowship” and a sermon. They were in each other’s homes, not by appointment, but by virtue of the rhythms of their lives together..."day by day."
Much has changed in the world since the first century. Many of the advances in society have been beneficial. But the basic human need for authentic relationships has not changed.
Our goal is that these crowded houses meet throughout South Jersey as primary places in which people from all points on the spectrum of spiritual development can experience what a Gospel-shaped community is really like.
Our mission is to bring this kind of Gospel Community to those who are still lost.
Jesus describes himself as a shepherd who came to seek and save the lost sheep, and he does so at great cost to Himself.
His found sheep imitate him by pursuing the lost sheep around them; in the places they live, work, and play; with words, and with deeds; speaking the truth in love, they display a merciful God who is still in the business of redeeming lives and restoring what is broken.
Really, our mission is a merely a reflection of the Great Commandments and Great Commission of Jesus.
The great commandment? Love God and love your neighbor.
The great commission? Go into all the world, even the world next door, and preach the good news that Jesus loves sinners.
As we do this, we are doing our part to be shaped by Jesus and the Gospel, and to summon others to join us in this journey of discipleship: living lives as servants and students of Jesus, to the end that the earth may be filled with the knowledge of God “as the waters cover the sea.”