Because each person is at different points in their journey of faith, and because people have different learning styles, we seek to create a variety of ways and spaces for growth to happen. More specifically, we recognize that faith formation is a hands-on, participatory experience.
We invite people of all ages to allow their entire lives to be transformed by the presence of God’s Spirit in worship and prayer, through teaching and study, by loving and serving others, and more. One of our guiding questions is, “What does it look like for you to take another step closer to Jesus?”
Fellowship with and submission to others is a particularly important way in which faith formation occurs. At Highland, we seek to be a healing community where we bear each other’s burdens and encourage each other. Caring fellowship is the way we share our experiences and gain support from each other as a church family. We invite people to become accountable to each other for growth in our lives with God and others. Participating in small care groups is a basic aspect of this intentional growth.
Christians often say, “I go to ______ church.” Or, “Let’s go to church.” A more accurate thing to say would be, “I belong to ______ church.” Or, “My church meets there.” Or, “Let’s go to worship with our church.” That’s because the church is God’s people at school, at work, at home, in the neighbourhood. With that in mind, when people gather on Sunday mornings, we are AT worship with church in the Highland meetinghouse located on the traditional and unceded ancestral lands of the Sumas and Matsqui nations.
So Why Gather for Worship? Highland’s understanding is that participating in worship (on Sunday mornings or Thursday nights or whenever) is important, but our gatherings aren’t the be-all-and-end-all of the church. God’s people are to love God, care for each other, and serve the world in daily life. So why gather for worship? This is a time to ... … center our lives in Jesus through song and prayer … listen to the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit … share from our lives … be loved by God and each other … grow in love for God and others
So What Happens in Worship? As a community of Anabaptist Christians, we believe that God is present in a special way when the church is gathered. So as you relinquish control of your life and allow this community to lead you through the next hour or so, God may change you in some way big or small. It might be enjoyable. It might be painful. But we anticipate that it will be life giving.
Interactive Community Because we are a multigenerational and multicultural community, our worship tends to be multisensory and participatory. Some have described it as “kid-friendly contemplative.” We sing hymns, choruses and chants. We have prayer stations with icons. We have times of silent reflection. On occasion we’ve been known to dance. Art features prominently in our sanctuary. We eat the Lord’s Supper every other week. Every gathering gives space for people to offer their joys and concerns to each other and God in prayer.
Indeed, we believe that God speaks to us through the community. As a result, neither the sermon nor the pastor have the last word in worship. Worship at Highland is multivocal. Young and old, men and women—everyone has an opportunity to contribute in leading music, facilitating prayer, reading Scripture, preaching, and serving communion. Indeed, our worship gatherings often end with a time for people to offer what they have been hearing from the Spirit.
We invite everyone to participate, but we don’t mind if you choose to simply be present with us, or even step out at any point. Please don’t worry if your little ones make noise at any time during worship. If your children (or you!) need a break, a “quiet room” is available in the foyer.
Word Centered All of the elements—not just the sermon—in a Highland worship gathering are intended to teach. For example, our sung and spoken words are intended to school us in prayer. We read and hear lots of Scripture to know more of God, ourselves, and our world. Our Christ Candle reminds us that Jesus is present with us in Spirit, and that we are called to walk in—and closer to—the Light every day.
Since there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” answer, the sermon (called a Response to Scripture) doesn’t necessarily give you “the solution” to life’s problems. More often, the Biblically-rooted sermon gives you good questions to ask, or some sound frameworks and directions, that will help you discern who God is calling you to be and what God is calling you to do in the particular circumstances or your week.