DENOMINATION NonePASTOR Max LucadoADDRESS 19595 federal government 10PHONE 210-698-6868ON THE INTERNET oakhillschurchsa.org MAIN SERVICE Saturdays in ~ 5:00 P.M.; Sundays at 8:30 A.M., 10 A.M., and also 11:30 A.M.

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Having grown increase in the Church that Christ, I have actually been interested in observing, at a usually distance, the differences that have evolved over the years between the small-town church of my youth (similar come the Oak Hill Church of Christ in Luling, which i reviewed in July 2006) and also “seeker friendly” megachurches together as mountain Antonio’s Oak Hills Church, by family tree a Church of Christ yet one that has actually moved sufficiently far from its root to have actually dropped the name. Through a weekly attendance of roughly 5,500, Oak Hills, located at the northwest sheet of mountain Antonio on federal government 10, is one of the state’s largest congregations and led by one of its best-known preachers, Max Lucado.

After complying with several corridors one Sunday—past offices, nurseries, a coffee shop, and the UpWords bookstore—my wife and also I found the elevator and also stairs to the second-level worship center. If the banners hanging from the rafters that this large multifunctional room had check out “State AAAA Champs, 2005” instead of “The holy Spirit, our Power” and also “The Church, God’s Battalion,” one can well have assumed the this to be the gymnasium that an wealthy high school. Many of the congregation of around 1,500—there are four weekend solutions at this campus, plus 2 others at auxiliary locations—sat in comfortable, movable chairs ~ above the key floor; the rest of united state sat in theater-style bleacher seats. Dress and also demeanor to be casual, v some worshippers put on shorts and also a number carrying mugs the coffee.

As the business got under way, we automatically saw and heard a superficial however nonetheless decisive difference in between the Oak Hills Church and most church of its parent body: a choir and a band! with guitars and drums! The nineteenth-century starting fathers that the church of Christ, in a desire to reclaim the first-century church through imitating its practices—an method they hoped would certainly encourage unity amongst all Christians—interpreted the lack of cite of important music in early on church prayer as warrant because that prohibiting it, rather favoring a cappella singing, usually in four-part harmony. In current years, however, a little but growing variety of Churches the Christ have elected to break v that tradition. In ~ Oak Hills, I later learned, the decision come introduce important music conduct slowly, with lot discussion, and also then only partially. It started with the use of tools in among the weekend services, a weaken designed come attract people who discovered the prohibition off-putting and to mollify those who still preferred an abstinence-only approach. Soon, however, the balance tipped. At present, only the 8:30 a.m. Organization retains a cappella singing.

An old friend that serves as a top elder in ~ the church acknowledged that comprehensive numbers the members had left Oak Hills to attend various other churches, “some specifically due to the fact that of the instrument, others due to the fact that of the ‘slippery slope.’” That viewed drift consisted of a greater public role for women, who have actually traditionally take away no component in the worship of churches of Christ past singing from your pews. At Oak Hills, women organize some main ministry positions, lead worship, and deal with the congregation (as in make announcements) however are not yet deemed eligible to fill the pulpit, offer as elders, or preside end communion.

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As more and an ext people indigenous non—Church that Christ backgrounds began attending Oak Hills—they are at this time estimated come number a bit more than fifty percent the congregation—church leader learned that numerous had been reluctant come even collection foot within a Church the Christ since of that is association through a strong kind of legalism and a extensively resented (though increasingly less common) assertion that members of various other denominations are not really Christians. So, complying with the command of much more and much more churches everywhere, Oak Hills reduce the brand in 2003 and also prefers come be recognized simply as a “community church.”

Undoubtedly, lot of the credit for Oak Hills’ expansion must go to that is pastor. Though only 53, Lucado (pronounced “Lu-cay-doe”) is an amazingly prolific and also successful author. Beginning with a reworked repertoire of columns he created for a church news while he was an combine minister fresh out of Abilene Christian University and then polished during a five-year stint together a missionary to Brazil in the eighties, he has written more than fifty books, released in more than twenty languages global and with aggregate sales in excess of 50 million copies—more than either Joel Osteen or stack Warren (The Purpose-Driven Life) and 2nd only come Billy Graham amongst living inspirational authors. Christianity Today has referred to as Lucado “America’s Pastor,” and in 2005 Reader’s Digest named him “America’s ideal Preacher.”

No preacher will receive such high point out on all scorecards, yet Lucado is one uncommonly good communicator. He has fantastic eye and also ear because that the details that a story, carrying his messages v a variety of voice and tone that catches attention without being theatrical. ~ above the day of ours visit, the recounted the story in man 8:1—11 the the adulterous mrs whom religious leaders had actually apprehended and were prepared to execute as soon as Jesus intervened. Lucado noted that the woman had actually been “caught . . . In the act,” indicating that her self-righteous accusers had likely collection a trap for her. Even an ext important, lock were utilizing her together bait to trap Jesus. “The regulation of Moses regulates that we rock to fatality every woman who does this,” they said to Jesus. “What perform you say we need to do?” Lucado then described the step in which Jesus stooped down, created something in the sand, and also said, “Anyone here who has never sinned deserve to throw the very first stone in ~ her.” together her accusers dropped their stones and also slunk away, Jesus looked up and said, “Woman, where space they? has actually no one judged girlfriend guilty?” once she answered, “No one, sir,” the said, “I likewise don’t referee you guilty. You may go now, yet don’t sin anymore.”

The lesson, Lucado emphasized, is the for those who will accept Jesus together their savior, every sin they have actually committed, or will commit in the future, is forgiven. Jesus has left a article for everyone, he said, no in the sand but on a cross. That blog post is “Not guilty. Let mine forgiveness sheathe you. Placed the past in the past. It’s time to relocate on, relieved of guilt and shame.”

This assertion of radical grace to be a notable departure from the sermons ns heard as a child. The blog post I received ago then was that the slate acquired wiped clean at baptism yet that every slip after that would it is in indelibly inscriptions in a heavenly account book. On judgment Day, if your great works outweighed her shortcomings, grace can serve as a kind of “bridge loan” the would allow you to make a down payment on a heavenly mansion. But the notion of walking roughly feeling fully accepted by God was simply not part of the arrangement. Recently, however, grace has made remarkable headway amongst Churches the Christ, particularly those v younger preachers and congregations, often to the disdain of those who are afraid it will be perceived as a patent to sin. That opportunity obviously exists, but I deserve to say without uncertainty that had I heard together an encouraging message during the an initial two decades of my life, I would certainly surely have actually regarded it as an excellent News.