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Beliefs


"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity."

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Beliefs


"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity."

What Guides Us

Mission Hills strives to reflect the ancient roots and values of early Christianity.

Christianity is not a modern man-made "organized religion," but one that is organic, community-oriented, and has historical roots going back to the very beginning of the Bible. Church history and the New Testament teach us what the “mission” of early-church was like. At Mission Hills we are attempting to translate those values of the early church vision into a church for Austin in today's culture.

Essentials. We use the term "core beliefs" to express the beliefs that unite us. These beliefs contain the seeds of what may become many other beliefs and practices of the church. There is a saying from church history, which we find explains our position well: "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity." As a church, we have determined what our "core" or "essential" beliefs are so that we can hold onto unity as a local church expression and so that we can embrace liberty in issues that aren't as "essential." This means that among the people of the church there will be a welcomed variety of beliefs on what we hold as "non-core" or "non-essential" beliefs and doctrines. Our core beliefs center on the following areas:

About the Bible. We believe that the entire Bible is fully inspired by God, that it is trustworthy and is our guide for truth, faith and life. We hold a high view of the Scriptures and its authority in our lives.

2 Timothy 3:16, 17; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; Matthew 5:18; John 16:12, 13; Psalm 19:7-11, 119:105

About God. We believe that there is one God who is the loving Creator of all that exists, both seen and unseen. God is eternal and completely good, knowing all things, having all power and majesty. We believe God exists eternally in perfect co-equal community as three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Genesis 1:26-27; Deuteronomy 6:4; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:8, 2 Corinthians 13:14

About Jesus. We believe that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and mysteriously and wonderfully is God in the flesh. He is the perfect reflection of God's heart, character, beauty and love for people. He lived a life without sin (which we define as failure to live by God’s guidelines and moral standards) and offered Himself as the only perfect sacrifice for the sins of all people by dying on the cross. Through faith in Jesus we have been forgiven and brought into a right relationship with God. Jesus bodily rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven and one day will return to judge the world and bring an end to injustice as He restores all things to God's original intent.

Matthew 1:18-25; John 1:14, 8:40,58, 11:33; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 5:8-10; Colossians 1:15-17; Hebrews 1:8

About the Holy Spirit. We believe that the Holy Spirit, sent from God to live in all who put faith in Jesus, teaches, comforts, convicts and empowers us, giving each person diverse gifts for serving in the church and serving others in the world on the mission of God. We believe that it is through the Holy Spirit that we have the power to change and develop a holy life and Jesus-like character.

John 16:8-11; Acts 1:8-9; 2 Corinthians 3:6; I Corinthians 12:12-14; Romans 8:9; Ephesians 5:18

About Salvation. We believe that all people are created with dignity and great value in the image of God and that people were created to live in a thriving relationship with God. However, ever since Genesis 3 when sin was introduced, we are living in a broken humanity. This introduced shame, fear, and regret into the human condition and we all live with the effects of the Fall.

However, God has been graciously trying to restore Creation, including our humanity. Scripture highlights God’s faithfulness and grace within covenant relationship. We struggle to live in harmony with God, each other, and our creation. Ultimately, out of unrelenting and unconditional love, God sent His Son, Jesus, to rescue us. The Good News is we receive the God’s forgiveness and are spiritually reborn through repenting. Repentance is not to remind of our shortcomings and inadequacies. Rather, this practice reminds us of God’s unconditional love and acceptance.

Ephesians 2:8-10; John 1:12; Ephesians 1:7; Romans 3:22-26, 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7

About the Church. We believe that anyone in the world who puts his or her faith in Jesus is a member of His church. The church itself is people who are empowered by God's Spirit to be part of the mission of God here on earth. The church is one global community, but has smaller, local expressions, such as our church community. Each local church expression has a unique personality, and we see beauty in that diversity. We believe that the church does not exist for itself, but exists as a community of worshipers who are here to serve others, as Jesus told us to be His light, love, compassion, kindness and hope to the world around us.

Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8, 2:1-47; Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:11-13; 5:25-30; 1 Corinthians 12:27)

About the Afterlife and End Times. We do believe that life continues after physical death and there is a heaven and a hell. We do believe that Jesus will one day return and bring justice to all things. There are so many metaphors and so much ancient apocalyptic language used in the Scriptures about these mysterious topics, and we approach them with great humility and wonder.

Daniel 12: 2; Matthew 24-25; 1 Corinthians 15:1-25; 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18; Revelation 20-22

About our Theology

Doctrinal statements are limited in expressing the fullness of Christian beliefs.

The entire Bible really contains our "doctrinal statement" and what we believe. So this theology section of the web site only represents some of the central beliefs of Mission Hills and our approach to theology. But we very much hold to the whole Bible narrative and all within it as what we believe and desire to practice, not simply what you will see highlighted here.

Simply "knowing" doctrine is not what changes our heart or actions.

Jesus criticized the religious leaders of his day for being hypocrites and legalists. They were very familiar with the Bible and knew a lot of doctrine, but they didn't let that doctrine seep into their hearts and impact their lives. We can know doctrine intellectually, but if it doesn't impact us on a deeper level, the knowledge is almost useless. What Jesus cares most about is whether or not our lives are being changed by the Spirit as we put saving faith in Him (Romans 10:9) and whether the doctrine we learn expands our love for God and for people (Matthew 22:36-40). That kind of transformation produces in us the fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).

Living with a “humble theology”

At Mission Hills, we live in the tension of a "humble theology," which means we approach the Scriptures recognizing our inadequacies as human beings to determine with 100% certainty every single thing in the Bible. This doesn't mean that we cannot make certain theological conclusions - there are many Scriptural truths that have been held throughout the 2,000 year history of the church, which we as Mission Hills believe are central to the Christian faith.

We believe God’s intent, particularly what’s revealed in Scripture, is intended to help us live in harmony with Him, each other, and the creation. While there is much in our personal lives we can apologize for, we can’t apologize for God’s timeless wisdom and direction. As such, we look to be stewards of the Bible beginning with our own lives.

We believe in the truths of the Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed

The Nicene Creed and the Apostle's Creed are beautifully written statements by the Early Church, expressing the heart of several doctrines which are critical in the understanding of who Jesus is and His relationship to the Father and the Spirit.

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Values


Doctrine is most beautiful when it is actually lived out in our day-to-day lives. 

Values


Doctrine is most beautiful when it is actually lived out in our day-to-day lives. 

We believe we live in the presence of God all day long

It is interesting that we seem to separate our “spiritual lives” from the rest of our lives. We tend to parse out faith (ie going to church, volunteering, praying, and certain holidays) from, well…seemingly the rest of our lives – work, weekend, finances, marriage, health, hobbies, evenings, friendships, vacations, and kids. The Hebrew has no word for spiritual because that would imply that a part of life is unspiritual. Scripture teaches that God is simply with us. (He is "omnipresent" as we read in Psalm 139; Jeremiah 23:24; Genesis 28:15). We seek to “practice His presence” throughout each day regardless of the circumstances we face or the company we keep.

We believe that we are entirely dependent on God's Spirit to make personal change

Human effort alone does not produce real change - it is the Spirit of God who convicts us, changes us, and ultimately empowers us to be transformed into followers of Jesus. Repentance (which means "to change one's mind" or "to turn") is part of change, because as we turn, we recognize where we have gone astray from God's will. Out of understanding where we have strayed, we can then ask God for the strength to continue changing into the person He has made us to be.

John 14:26; Acts 9:31; Romans 8:27; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 1 John 2:20,27: Acts 1:8

We believe everyone is a minister

The "priesthood" of all believers is the Scriptural teaching that every Christian is in full-time ministry, serving God in all they do. This means that vocations other than paid ministry are still ministry. God has scattered His people throughout varying times and places so that they could honor Him in all parts of life, regardless of what type of vocation they are in. Practically, this means that every Christian – from an elementary school student to her stay-at-home mom to her electrician father – can he holy servants of God, honoring Him in their respective vocations. The concept of the "priesthood" of all believers comes out of the truth that because of Jesus, we no longer need a “middle man” to communicate with and experience God. In the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), there were "priests" who would go and intercede on the behalf of the people. But because Jesus is our High Priest and mediator, we are now all priests in God's kingdom.

Hebrews 3:1, 4:14; 1 Peter 2:4,9; I Timothy 2:5

We believe that you can't "go to church" because you "are the church"

Nowhere in the New Testament do we read that the followers of Jesus "went to church." What we find is that the church gathered together. This is a subtle yet significant difference. The church is the people, not a place or a meeting to attend. We believe that in the modern world, the "church" has become known as a place that people go to versus people on a mission for God. We cannot underestimate the power of how words shape our understanding of what a "church" is and how it is supposed to function. Mission Hills has worship gatherings and hosts various meetings that happen at a "place"- but foremost, we seek to function as a community of "people" who are a living expression of the church all week long.

1 Corinthians 12

We believe that healthy followers of Jesus "feed” themselves from the inspired Scriptures throughout the week

Most people are aware of the Bible as a significant book. Many are familiar with some of its stories. Yet, few understand God’s intent and relevancy for here and now. We desire to set a culture where people invest themselves in the Word and learn to "feed” themselves from the Scriptures to mature and grow. This is a critical philosophical strategy for a church, because it means that we want to see people learning how to study the Scriptures outside of Sundays as part of the rhythm of their lives, not viewing the sermons on Sundays as the primary way they are being "fed" as a believer. The Scriptures are an absolutely critical aspect of growing and maturing as a follower of Jesus. Studying and knowing and living out the Scriptures must happen on a regular basis in the life of a believer.

Hebrews 5:11-13, Acts 17:10-12, II Tim.2:15

We believe that our lives are at their best when lived for the sake of others.

In most cases, it’s not that the “Have’s” don’t care about the “Have-nots”…It’s that we don’t know them. We don’t, necessarily, extend generosity to save others. We do it because it saves us from thinking that we deserve what God has given us. More than serving others for their sake, we recognize God’s gracious provision. Connecting with others who are vulnerable, under-resourced, underserved, or simply down on their luck is more than an act of charity. Hopefully, it’s in serving that we’re able to learn and grow from others different than ourselves. It reminds us of our need to have our hearts re-sensitized, softened, even humbled. It’s in serving that we discover our own need for the grace of God. We see new life can be found when we practice care for the sake of others.

It seems so counterintuitive to many of us, but Jesus called us to pray for our enemies. He also taught us that the second greatest command is to love our neighbor as ourselves. All through Scripture, we see that a follower of Jesus is described as someone who desires to express love to other people. We believe that Christianity is not a self-oriented faith, but one that is about other people.

Matthew 22:39; Matthew 5:43-44; Colossians 4:5-6

We believe in the beauty and power of singleness.

We view singleness, whether it be lifelong or a season of singleness, as a holy gift from God, an opportunity to live a rich and full life while serving God and others. In singleness, there is a flexibility and availability to follow where God is leading, without having to share decision-making or to bear the responsibility one might have to a spouse and/or children. The Apostle Paul is an example of this passionate servant-hearted singleness. We value people in all stages of life and seek to honor and celebrate those life-stages, whatever they may be.

1 Corinthians 7:6-8; Matthew 6:33; Mark 12:25; 1 Corinthians 7:32; Isaiah 54:5

We believe the covenant of marriage is holy and sacred.

In a fallen and broken world, relationships are often fragile, yet we believe that with the strength of God and the guidance of Scripture, there is hope for healthy marriages and healing from past relationships. As a church, we will strive to support and encourage vitality in marriage.

We see the fullness of God expressed in creation through the attributes, gifts, quality and needs of both males and females. We see marriage as a laboratory in which God wants us to experiment and express his unconditional love. Because of this covenant, marriage is the one environment where we become most known, for better or worse. As such, we see marriage not simply to make us happy but to help in making us holy. It’s in marriage that we learn to experiment with His love, grace, and forgiveness. And it's within the intimacy of marriage we experience the full expression of God as male and female. It’s in this unique and specific design that God allows us to participate as co-creators with the ability to bring new life into this world. As such, we view marriage as God's design of a sacred covenant (a supernatural bonding) between a man and woman.

It is worth noting that we do not see one’s sexual orientation as being outside of God’s love nor salvation. We understand that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom.8:39). We see ourselves as broken people who each maintain our own unique gifts, challenges, meaning, and struggles. We believe “it is by grace we are saved by faith—and this is not from ourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph.2:8)

Genesis 2:23-24; Exodus 20:14; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 5:31-32, Matthew 19:1-12; Malachi 2:14-16

We believe that parents are the primary way the faith is taught and modeled to future generations.

While parents are entrusted with the primary spiritual care of their children, we also recognize the need for help. We see the church as an extended family that creates inter-generational relationships for kids and parents at each stage of life’s joys and challenges. We desire to see children and youth holistically integrated into the life of the church, as opposed to always being compartmentalized.

Deuteronomy 6: 4-9

We believe the paid staff of the church serves to train, equip and care for the people of the church as we all serve on the mission together

The church is comprised of people gifted by the Holy Spirit in many unique and beautiful ways to serve God, each other and the mission of Jesus. The majority of the church staff will focus their efforts on helping people identify their gifts and passions so that they can serve in the church body and in the world as God has designed them. We believe that we can see the Spirit of God changing us as we manifest love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control in our lives. Jesus most harshly criticized those who were the religious leaders of His day: these leaders knew doctrine and knew the Bible very well but their hearts were hardened. As the Spirit of God transforms us, we believe that every person who has committed their life to Jesus should be showing the fruits of the Spirit more and more as they grow and mature. We strive to be a community of believers where the fruit of the Spirit is evident in our lives.

Ephesians 4:11-12, 1 Corinthians 12, Galatians 5: 22-23

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Leadership


David Sunde; Cultural Architect, Community Builder, Pastor, Poet, & Gardener*

Leadership


David Sunde; Cultural Architect, Community Builder, Pastor, Poet, & Gardener*

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David is a native son of San Francisco, California.  He has an undergraduate degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University and a Masters degree from Azusa Pacific University.  He has been involved in professional non-profit and spiritual leadership for over 20 years. David and his wife, Laurel, have two kids, Bjorn and Annika.

*A Poet & Gardener.  In a literal sense, I'm actually a terrible poet and awful gardener. However, the metaphor of those two images are ones I aspire to in leadership, faith, community, and service. I think one of the great challenges in life is trying to put words to what we feel on a deep level. In leading, I try to create experiences and offer words to help people articulate a living faith that integrates into the whole of life. Similarly, I love playing the role of gardener -- cultivating soil for people to grow. As a faith community, we seek to live out our faith - in word & deed -- by embracing seven Rhythms or, expressions, of faith.