The casual observer would think we have plenty of churches
around us, especially in California where only about one-third of
residents attend religious services regularly, one of the lowest
rates in the nation. But a Morgan Hill congregation has found that
some areas of Santa Clara County are actually under-served, that
they lack sufficient
to meet the spiritual needs of residents.
The casual observer would think we have plenty of churches around us, especially in California where only about one-third of residents attend religious services regularly, one of the lowest rates in the nation. But a Morgan Hill congregation has found that some areas of Santa Clara County are actually under-served, that they lack sufficient “Gospel witness” to meet the spiritual needs of residents. The leadership of West Hills Community Church, located at 16695 DeWitt Ave., has decided to step in and fill this need.
For more than three decades, the church – formerly known as Hillside Church – has played a prominent part in the life of Morgan Hill. It holds three Sunday worship services, drawing an average of 600 people each week, and offers a full range of other services to the community, such as Vacation Bible school, Sunday school, Awana, kids clubs, small groups and musical programs. It would be easy to rest on this success.
But three years ago, the congregation’s leadership decided God was calling them to do more, to expand beyond the confines of Morgan Hill. Its first effort was to dispatch a pastor to Hollister to help a struggling church in that city regain its vitality.
The plan was to become a “multi-campus” church, one church meeting in multiple locations. All the campuses would share a common vision, budget, resources and leadership. However, each congregation would also have unique features:
– A campus pastor who preaches regularly at that site and cares for the people there.
– Local elders who partner with the campus pastor in leading, shepherding and teaching the people of the church.
– The freedom to express the vision, mission and values in its own context, with individual programs, services and music to make the church accessible to the residents of that area.
In 2009, a talented man named Brad Keller offered the first opportunity to put this plan into action. He had been meeting with a group of San Jose residents to study the Bible and sought assistance from West Hills.
This Bible study eventually developed into West Hill’s downtown campus, now meeting in a commercial building at 270 N. 27th St. Keller is a bi-vocational pastor who teaches seventh and eighth grade Bible classes at the Vine Academy in Morgan Hill and also owns and operates a valet company for restaurants. The congregation, which has grown to 50 members, holds worship services on Sunday at 10 a.m. For information, call (408) 841-7402.
Soon a third congregation was begun. Demographic research showed that the Evergreen area of San Jose had comparatively few churches to minister to its more than 100,000 residents. Christian Zorio, then a pastor at the Morgan Hill campus, began worship services at the Evergreen Community Center (4860 San Felipe Road). Attendance now averages nearly 100 at the 9:30 a.m. Sunday service. Sunday school and childcare services are provided. For more information, call (408) 841-7325.
Members of the San Jose campuses are encouraged to attend events and take advantage of ministries available in Morgan Hill. All three congregations support the work of missionaries serving around the world, including Cambodia, the Philippines and Mexico. Most recently, the campuses partnered to send a young man as a missionary to Kenya; he hopes to become a pastor of a local congregation in that African nation.
The mission of West Hills has guided this effort: “The transformation of Morgan Hill, the Bay Area and beyond by and for Jesus Christ through His gospel,” and initial planning for a fourth campus has begun. The success enjoyed thus far is attributed to the core values held by members:
– Gospel equipping: Helping one another grow in being more like Jesus and living more like Him.
– Gospel expansion: Spreading the good news of Jesus, seeing other people follow him and multiplying campuses and churches which are on the same mission.
– Gospel expression: Worshipping God, serving and loving others, showing mercy to the poor and working for justice for the oppressed in Jesus’ name.
For more information about West Hills’ dynamic plans to spread the Gospel throughout Santa Clara County and beyond, contact executive pastor J. Bradley Mortensen at (408) 779-0677 or [email protected]