From Church to Family

hillside Community

Greetings Hillside Family!

My husband, Mark and I have attended Hillside since the fall of 2017 and have been involved in the First Impressions Team, serving in the coffee bar and the Women’s Ministry as a small group co-leader.  Even with this involvement, we felt we needed more for ourselves and wanted to get to know people of Hillside on a deeper level. So…we decided to get plugged into a Community Group.  Our Community Group has only been meeting for three months but we are already growing into a strong, supportive family. We hope our story brings encouragement as others have the desire to be more connected, to know, and to be known.  God has called us to love Him and love others. We see this so clearly worked out not only in our weekly group meetings but throughout the week as we do life together.

Here’s our story:

When thinking about joining a community group, we were a little hesitant to get involved.  All of our reasons were reasonable to us: we didn’t want to feel vulnerable, we knew we would be committing to one night a week, we hadn’t really gotten to know anyone at Hillside on a personal level, and the idea was so different from what we grew up with. But God kept impressing on us to get involved and really allow our church home to become our church family.

Still with reservations and questions, we contacted Dave Schaffer through Hillside’s website and requested to be placed in a community group.  What if we just don’t fit with the group? Will it be rude to try a group and then not go back if we don’t fit? How will we know we are where we are supposed to be? And how will we interrupt a group that has been meeting and feel like we belong?  After a short period we were contacted by our group leaders, Ronnie and Wendy Bowles with the kindest email inviting us to come join their group at their house.

Our first night to attend was the first Tuesday in February.  We were a little nervous going for all the silly reasons the enemy kept putting in our minds.  We went the first night and found out that it was the entire groups first night to meet. This was one of our fears being relieved!  We weren’t breaking into the group; we were there to help establish our group. This was where we first saw God orchestrating our group.  Then as we met the other group members, it is obvious God was directing. We didn’t provide a history of ourselves or what events had played out in our lives, and we assumed no one else in the group shared in depth details of their life history either.  In getting to know our group, we can see God’s hand in bringing us together.

My husband and I lived apart from each other for over three years because our adult son was severely injured in an accident and required hospitalization.  We have a member of our group who is apart from his family because of an adult child requiring physical care because of medical issues. We have two families who each have an adult child suffering with very similar medical issues.  We have members who share the excitement and challenges of grandchildren. I believe every member of our group share hearts of serving and following Christ’s teachings and examples. We know God has brought our group together. We are excited to see how and where God will use our group to His glory as we stay faithful and obedient to His will.

If you have don’t currently belong to a community group, we encourage you to sign up today to start your journey of community.


Mark & Kelly Eakins