What is The Way? The Way is for people who are asking questions about spirituality, church, the Bible, and more. If you’ve never been a Christian, and are interested in exploring “the whole Jesus and God thing,” The Way is for you. The Way is also for people who have been following Jesus and are interested in baptism. People who are baptized Jesus-followers and are interested in being a member at Highland are also invited to participate in The Way. The Way is also for people who have been following Jesus for some time and are interested in deepening their friendship with Jesus. The Way is a 16-week faith formation experience for people of all ages. It begins in late November and ends in May. Participants are paired with a mentor, and together they participate in small group meetings that involve Bible study, discussion, and prayer. The Way encourages, challenges, and invites a style of life in which both believing and living are centered in Jesus Christ.
Why is it called a response to scripture and not a sermon or a message? We use the term “response to Scripture” for a few reasons. First, Anabaptist-Mennonites believe that our attitudes and actions are to be shaped by Scripture. When Scripture is read, we hear an invitation to look and live like Jesus. Our title is meant to reflect this understanding that a response is expected of all of us. Second, the term “sermon” or “message” suggests that one person will be providing a monologue about ideas that we can think about. But our responses to Scripture are frequently multi-sensory and interactive. In addition to expository teaching, these times have included Q&A discussions, storytelling, and silent reflection on a Biblical text (reminiscent of the Catholic practice of lectio divina). Third, Anabaptist-Mennonites believe that Jesus is present in Spirit in a special way when the church is gathered to hear and discuss Scripture. The term “response to Scripture” hints at this view that everybody in the community—not just the pastor—is expected to engage in understanding and following God’s Word.
What is the Revised Common Lectionary and why do we use it? The Revised Common Lectionary is a series of Bible readings. Churches and individuals that follow the RCL will, over a period of three years, read through large portions of the Bible. While the RCL doesn’t cover the entire Bible, it is particularly helpful in that people read texts that they might otherwise avoid. For example, each week the RCL leads people to read a portion of the Old Testament, a Psalm, something from one of the 4 Gospels, and a selection from the New Testament writings. In short, the RCL offers a steady, well-rounded diet of Scripture for readers to chew on from one week to the next.
Why do you call your pastor a ‘pastoral elder’? Anabaptist-Mennonites believe in the priesthood of all believers. At Highland, we believe that all of us are ministers. We also believe that our Elders play a particularly important leadership role in our community. We look to our Elders to oversee teaching, to lead our congregation in working toward an appropriate vision, to provide shepherding, spiritual direction, and counselling, to lead us in prayer, and to equip the community for our work of service. In this view, the pastoral elder is one leader among many. The pastoral elder works alongside the Elders in providing spiritual and administrative leadership.
What does liturgical mean? The word “liturgy” refers to the rituals of worship. All churches are liturgical in that they use certain practices (or habits or traditions) when they worship. For example, in many churches the liturgy is quite simple: 30 minutes of singing followed by a 45 minute sermon. Sometimes there are spontaneous prayers spoken. The term “liturgical” often refers to a certain style of worship found in Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran churches (to name a few). In these churches, there is a bit more formality to worship: written prayers that are read together by the community, a time of confession, opportunities for quiet reflection, and so on. For some people, “liturgical” = boring…stiff…lifeless. At Highland, we've found that our liturgical leanings have created spaces for us to laugh together, to weep together—all in the presence of God. Some people have described us as “kid-friendly contemplative.” Rather than try to describe Highland’s liturgical approach to worship, we invite you to come and experience it with us.
What is spiritual direction? How does a person receive spiritual direction? What’s the difference between spiritual direction and counselling? Spiritual direction is simply helping a person deepen his or her relationship with God. We hope that when you worship at Highland, you will receive spiritual direction: your attention will be focused on how the Holy Spirit is moving in the world and in your life, and you will leave with a clearer sense of how you might follow Jesus in your daily living. Spiritual direction is also experienced in one-to-one relationships. It’s common for people at Highland to meet regularly (e.g. for an hour once per month) with a trained spiritual director. The person seeking direction can share stories of his or her life—struggles, worries, successes, God encounters, and so on. The director listens and asks questions to assist the person in his or her process of reflection. Spiritual direction is different from counselling in that the goal is to become more attentive to what God is doing in a person’s life. Spiritual direction is the gift of a sacred presence offered to another that provides a gentle but tenacious encouragement to open fully to God’s loving presence. In this way, one learns about and engages in experiential ongoing communication with Jesus. In that sense, spiritual direction is about companioning in prayer with another and Jesus.