City on a Hill

Charles Kiser —  October 30, 2007 — 13 Comments

sun2.jpgAt the end of September, Christ Journey and Sunrise churches—the two churches we’ve worked with in our apprenticeship period—partnered together in a weekend retreat called City on a Hill. The retreat is the second of two retreats we’ve developed (the first was Marvelous Light) for facilitating spiritual formation in followers of Jesus. This particular retreat focuses on equipping disciples to participate in the mission of God.

City on a Hill makes use of two components also found in Marvelous Light: teaching and ministry group. Teaching times on Friday night present a theological framework for the mission of God and obstacles that keep people from participating in mission. Saturday’s teaching includes seven practical tools for drawing others into the story of God: sharing God’s story, starting spiritual conversations, dealing with unbelievers’ doubts, sharing one’s own faith journey, service, the role of community in mission, and helping others enter the kingdom and continue in formation.

Ministry groups are the epicenter of formation at City on a Hill. These are groups of 2-3 people who journey together throughout the entire weekend to process and appropriate content from the teaching times. On Friday night, for instance, ministry groups share in confession and prayer about barriers to mission that exist in group members’ hearts. On Saturday, ministry groups provide a place to engage the practical tools offered for mission. For example, group members start spiritual conversations, share their faith stories, and communicate the story of God with each other.

At the end of the weekend several retreat participants filed forward to share how they’d been impacted by their experiences and to give a blessing to their fellow retreat members. One of the most encouraging testimonies came in an email from a Christ Journey member the week after City on a Hill:

I just had some great news to share. As most of you know, we have been having a Sunday night house church with our neighbors DiAnne and Alex. This has been great, but we have also been praying for our other neighbors a little further down. Their names are Earl and Nicky. This couple is somewhere in their mid to late 50’s. They came to the cookout and we talk to them quite regularly. They’ve come down to join us sitting on the front porch a couple of times, but not really showing that much interest.

A couple of weeks ago when I was finishing up on the roof, Earl came down and we talked for quite a while about a variety of subjects, but worshiping God and church was a pretty big topic during the discussion. Anyway, when we were done and I went back to working, I had thought that I’d blown it with Earl and Nicky because of opening my big, fat, arrogant mouth. I had intended to go down and talk to Earl about it, but hadn’t quite done it.

Anyway, last Sunday on our prayer request sheet, we had prayed that our house church would increase and that we would continue to see the Spirit’s work in our current house church members. Well, low and behold, last Sunday night, Earl and Nicky came to join us in worship and prayer and conversational discussion. Not only did they join us last Sunday, but they talked like they would start making it a regular deal to join us on Sunday nights.

So, PRAISE GOD for how His hands are working through us, even when we feel like we’ve really messed it up. This is definitely proof that you don’t have to have it all together for God to use you. Hey, just look at me, I’m probably as messed up as anyone can be and God is working anyway.

What an expression of Jesus’ words in Matthew, the same words that frame up the entire City on a Hill experience: “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”


Charles Kiser


I’m a pastor, missionary, and contextual theologian in Dallas, Texas. I’m committed to equipping and coaching Christians to start fresh expressions of Christian community in Dallas County — communities of hospitality, inclusion, justice, and healing.

13 responses to City on a Hill


    I am really glad you “broke down” and started a blog for the church plant. It will be great tool to keep all of your supporters up dated on your work. I love you son, and I am praying for you and your team.


    I came, I saw, I commented. Keep going, Charles.


    We can never underestimate what God can do. Didn’t He tell us that He can do more than we can ask or think? Love your blog. Love’s Prayers…Dottie

    Jenn & Kyle Stephens October 30, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Praise God!!! We are grateful to hear how God is working to raise up instruments of peace in our world to join Him in His mission! We were so excited to meet you at Richland Hills the other night (we were just visiting – we are actually a part of a Body in Duncanville) and look forward to partnering in prayer with you, your family, and teammates. Thank you for including us in your contact list. Blessings on your week! Jennifer (& Kyle)Stephens


    … err, those verses in matthew have been copyrighted by the AYM during the summer of 2000. my lawyer will be contacting you.
    i will pray for you and your intellectual property stealing ways…


    Hey Charles and Julie! I am so glad that I will be able to read about the work ya’ll are doing from right here in Abilene! God has blessed me tremendously through you! Cody and I keep you in our prayers daily! I love you both!


    Keep moving forward, Chuckwagon. You’re a beast for God.


    WOW, Chuckwagon, I am so pumped that you finally started a blog, now I have even more awesome reading at work. I’ve never commented on Julie’s blog, but she does have some excellent stories. You will be hard pressed to live up to her standards of story telling. But press on anyway and I will keep updated through your blog, because you NEVER call unless you need something(like mulch etc.)
    We love ya’ll and miss ya’ll. I guess we’ll see you at MARVELOUS LIGHTS.


    Great stuff! But you don’t have to convince me too hard.


    We’re reading and I’ve added it to my blog. It was good to see you, Julie and the little puppy dog last night! 🙂


    I wuz here!


    I think I would have got a lot out of that retreat. On second though, maybe you should have a retreat on the weekend of my brother’s wedding…but I guess it might be a little tricky to do both. I’m glad you started a blog. Make sure to post some pics of Ryan every now and again.



    Good to hear the updates. We need to talk and catch up. Just to let you know, we are expecting #2 on June 6!


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