I love going to our elders' meetings. They are holy ground, full of prayer, affirming, discernment, and encouragement. That's not to say that there is never a disagreement; but those disagreements are in love and mutual respect. Honestly, some of the great faith-building moments of my life have been in Highland elders' meetings. Let me let you peek in on one part of last evening's meeting. We brought in a group of ACU students who are our "neighborhood walkers." About fifty students meet each week to walk down the streets around our building to meet people, build relationships, and pray. These students introduced themselves last night by telling us their name and what street(s) they walk. The stories are incredible. Of people who were resistent but now welcoming. Of relationships that have been formed. Of Highland neighbors who are now coming to our Wednesday Oasis meals (so many last night that we actually ran out of food! Where was the kid with the five loaves and two fish?). Of one teenager who bonded with the students, now attends Highland, and has joined one of the walking teams. I know one second-year Spanish student who knows much more Spanish than some of the people on her street know English. So she stumbles along with a smile on her face, communicating the love of Jesus as best she can. (She may be the most motivated student in her ACU Spanish class!) Years ago the elders decided not to move locations. We could easily be in a "better" part of town. It probably would have "paid off" in terms people like to measure like attendance and budget. But God has us where we are for a reason. Just think about the Colonial Apartments. Years ago it was only known as a run-down drug nest. Now, it's an outpost of the kingdom of God! Highland rents two apartments there where children are loved, read to, taught, prayed for, and blessed. And lots of residents of the apartments have become a vital part of our church. It's funny. A few people on the outside think that "the role of women" has become the defining issue of Highland. Ha! We've worked through that together as a congregation, for sure, as we have sought to discern the guiding of the Holy Spirit. (And another big announcement is coming from the elders this Sunday.) But that's not the big shift. The big shift is from seeing ourselves as a provider of consumer demands to an outpost of the kingdom of God that participates in his mission in this world. That's the big movement. And it's exciting! As the elders encircled these students last night to lay hands on them and pray for them (especially for their safety in our neighborhood), there were lots of smiles and a few tears.