Formed in Worship

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A lot of things happen at Oak Hills on a Sunday morning. We gather as the people of God. We sing, praise, recite, and pray to honor Him in worship. We study and reflect on the truth of the Bible. We share the body and blood of Jesus at His table. And then we are sent out to the world, to be Jesus to those He loves.

we are reminded that our greater identity and our most powerful expression of mission flows from being a part of this worshiping community, the Bride of Christ. And we are formed through the corporate practices which tell and retell the Story of God. God is with us, and we are changed in His presence.

This fall, we are excited to begin a message series that speaks on the central practices of our Sunday worship—to gather as His people, to adore our Triune God, to be shaped by His word, to encounter Christ at the table, and to be sent out into the world. And we will culminate this series with an evening of worship as well. We feel so strongly about this series, that we highly encourage you to not miss a single Sunday. Because we do believe that we are formed in worship—not as mere individuals, but more so, as a body of believers.

Come and worship with us.


9/9    Gathering As His People

9/16  Adoring our Triune God

9/23  Shaped by the Word

9/30  Encountering Christ at the Table

10/7  Sent into the World

10/7  An Evening of Worship

Songs I Can’t Stop Singing

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Think about your favorite music. Chances are, much of the music you love you discovered when you were in your teens and twenties. This is typically the time when one is trying to define oneself, when the deep questions of identity and purpose and meaning and acceptance become important. And music is one of the ways in which we define ourselves, and in doing so, it also helps us make sense of the world around us.

Bing Crosby released “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” during the winter of 1943, and it immediately captured the sentiment of an entire nation dealing with the uncertainty of world war. The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love” in the summer of 1967, and it became the defining anthem for a decade of peace-seeking hippies marching for change. Kurt Cobain delivered the anarchistic “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in the nihilistic nineties, and it not only propelled Nirvana to the top of the rock charts, it became a theme song of sorts for the ironically-tinged Generation X. The War generation, the hippy generation, even Gen X—music has defined every generation. As poet Ralph Waldo Emerson confirms, “Music takes us out of the actual and whispers to us dim secrets that startle our wonder as to who we are, and for what, whence, and whereto.”

Music is also a language of feelings. It is indeed true that music can sooth the savage breast. But it can also make us feel happy or sad, pensive or elated, boisterous or quiet, angry or indifferent. We have all felt pride as we stood for the National Anthem; quiet, interior peace at the hushed singing of “Silent Night”; anticipation at the promenade of “Pomp and Circumstance”; and butterflies in the stomach at the opening notes of the “Wedding March”. Evocative, emotive, enfolding—music delivers an unspoken dialogue of mood and sentiment, stirring and spirituality. Music, as they say, is what feelings sound like.

Throughout the remainder of the summer, Oak Hills will present a message series we’re calling “Songs I Can’t Stop Singing”. In this series, we’ll examine a variety of songs, which is another way of saying that we’re going to examine some feelings and concepts and see what the Bible has to say about them. We’ll also be hearing from a variety of speakers in addition to Mike Lueken, including staff pastors Manuel Luz, Lorraine Rothenburg, Travis Carr, and Colleen Gray, so we look forward to hearing from different perspectives as well.

Please join us through the entire summer as we hear—and feel—the songs we can’t stop singing.

Celebration is not an option.

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Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! And while we rightly celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday, the victory of the empty tomb is simply too big, too cosmically profound, to limit our celebration to just one day. That’s why the ancient church historically observed the season of Eastertide—the fifty days from Easter Sunday to Pentecost—as a time of celebration and awe.
At Oak Hills, our Eastertide season will be punctuated by a new message series we’re calling “CELEBRATION Is Not An Option.” Over seven Sundays, we will explore celebration as an essential spiritual action for those who live in the Kingdom of God. We will talk about celebrating through offering, repentance, reconciliation, loss, choice, victory, and life. Please join us each Sunday during this Eastertide season, and celebrate with us.
April 8 :: Celebrating Through Life (1 Chronicles 29)
April 15 :: Celebrating Through Repentance (Nehemiah 8-9)
April 22 :: Celebrating Through Reconciliation (Genesis 50)
April 29 :: Celebrating Through Offering (Deuteronomy 14:22)
May 6 :: Celebrating Through Loss
May 13 :: Celebrating Through Choice (Jeremiah 29)
May 20 :: Celebrating Through Victory (1 Samuel 17)


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By Manuel Luz, Creative Arts Pastor

Throughout the Advent season this year, we have been celebrating the Lord’s Supper each of the four weeks. This is very different than the first-Sunday-of-the-month, which is our customary tradition. More specifically, we have been very purposeful in telling God’s Grand Story by tying the custom of lighting the Advent wreath candle to the celebration of the Lord’s table. Essentially, the Lord’s Supper allows us to bridge the manger to the cross.

The act of celebrating Communion has always been unspeakably, mysteriously meaningful to me, even as a young boy receiving the Eucharist in the Catholic mass. Kneeling on the cold marble floor of the church sanctuary, the taste of the round white wafer melting on my tongue, listening to the monsignor’s words, “the body of Christ.” These were indelible moments for me, simple actions where I came face to face with the mystery of our faith. We enter into a sacramental action that has been repeated millions of times over thousands of years, all the way back to that ancient moment when Jesus sat at the table to share the bread and cup with his closest friends. It was a highly intimate act, an amazing act of self-disclosure, as Jesus reveals his death in light of the most sacred of Jewish celebrations, the Passover meal.  As he served the bread, “this is my body,” and the wine, “this is my blood, given up for you,” he revealed that he was the final sacrifice, the Perfect Lamb, whose blood would guard the doorposts of our homes, whose life would carry the sins of all mankind.

And this is why it struck me so deeply again during this Advent season. I’ve often thought that the act of incarnation—the act of God the Son eternal entering into the limited dimensions of our universe and clothing himself in fragile flesh—had to be more of a shock to Jesus than even dying on the cross. Think about that. He goes from infinite to finite, from Almighty God to helpless swaddling newborn, from timelessness to the ever-fleeting now, from the embrace of the perfect community of the Trinity to the utter aloneness of human being. No creature can fathom what that must have been like.

These were my thoughts as we celebrated the Lord’s Supper, and we repeated Jesus’ declaration, “This is my body,” and “this is my blood.” For the act of incarnation, the act of becoming this baby in a manger, was God’s ultimate act of self-disclosure. For we can truly know the nature and heart of God only through Jesus, who was God in the flesh, Emmanuel, God with us. When Jesus was born, it was as if God were saying, “This is my body, and this is my blood, given up for you.” It is only through the humanity of Jesus that we can fully know the nature of the Divine.

So the table represents a bridge between the birth, God’s revelation through incarnation, and the cross, God’s revelation through resurrection. The bread and the cup point backwards to the promise of Abraham and his descendants who were saved from Pharaoh.  And they also point forward to the cross and the empty tomb and ultimately to our life in Christ now and into eternity.

Beautiful, metaphorical, artistic, the Lord’s Supper is an intersection of mysteries—Christmas and Easter, incarnation and resurrection, the Promise and the Fulfillment.


Community Service Day

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By Megan Harrison, Missional Living Pastor

Let me just say it from the start: I love Community Service Day!  This September 17th marks the third annual Community Service Day in Folsom, and it is one of my favorite events of the year.  They have projects for everyone, for every age, for every interest.  The day unites businesses, families, faith communities, and friends across boundaries and neighborhoods.  And it helps continue to make the community we live in a beautiful place to be!

It’s no secret that God calls us to care for our actual neighbors, in addition to our theoretical ones (aka “everybody”).  In Jeremiah the Lord tells Israel to “…seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare will you find your welfare” (29:7 ESV).  Lance Ford and Brad Brisco talk about this extensively in their book Next Door As It Is In Heaven: Living Out God’s Kingdom In your Neighborhood. (I recommend it you check it out!)  One of their main points early on is this: we are called to care for our actual, living and breathing, right-next-door-to-us neighbors.

And that’s what God does and has done for eternity!  This is mostly easily seen in Jesus.  In his book God Next Door: Spirituality and Mission in the Neighborhood, Simon Carey Holt writes, “The story of the incarnation is the story of God en-fleshed in a particular place at a particular time and within a very specific community.  So too for us, the call of God is to be in a particular place and there to embody the presence and grace of God.  It’s a call to locality.”  The Folsom Community Wide Service Day is exactly that.  An opportunity to be present, to incarnate God’s love for this specific, local community, to live out God’s Kingdom in this particular place.  And you are invited!

So what does this day actually look like?  It starts off with a bang, as Lakeside hosts a breakfast in the morning, with food donated from local businesses, while city officials speak to the huge crowd that has gathered.  The room is filled to bursting with people from every background, ready to go out and love on people and places in Folsom. 

There are projects that help protect and beautify the parks, schools, and public places.  There are projects to encourage those in the military and those recently diagnosed with cancer.  There is a CITY WIDE food drive that collects huge pallets stacked with food every year!  How amazing is that?  A food drive that unites every neighborhood in our entire city! 

Have I mentioned that I love this day?  What better way to partner with our community and show them the tangible roots of the love of Christ?  What better way to build relationships and teams through service?  What better way to get further invested in our community?

I highly encourage you to consider joining us this year in serving around Folsom.  Find out what projects are still open at  Hope to see you there!


Ministry Partner Fair

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By Megan Harrison, Missional Living & Early Childhood Pastor

On Sunday, August 21st, we’ll be having an Oak Hills Ministry Partner Fair.  Similar to the one we had in February of last year, this will give Oak Hills the chance to learn more about the work our partners are doing around the world!  Many of our partners are either Oak Hillians, or are deeply invested in the people of Oak Hills, and we are deeply invested in them. Before the 21st rolls around, I wanted the chance to explore why these relationships matter so much, and why I believe it’s so important for Oak Hills to get to know our partners better.

First of all, you may be wondering: What is a ministry partner?  A ministry partner is someone working to build God’s kingdom outside the walls of Oak Hills, who we support either financially or through prayer and other resources.  We have partners who lead evangelism mission trips, partners who serve in slums, partners who work with recently released wards from Juvenile Hall, partners who lead churches in other countries, and many more.  All of our partners work to make a difference and proclaim the gospel both locally and globally.  

So how does someone become a ministry partner?  It looks different for most of our partners, but generally the potential partner approaches Oak Hills and asks for support.  They are directed to me, and I meet with them and talk with them about their ministry.  Two of the primary things we look at are whether their mission aligns with Oak Hills’ values and theology, and whether there are already established relationships between the partner and Oak Hills.

I want to focus in on this last piece—the relationships between a partner and the church—because it highlights just why this Ministry Partner Fair is so important.  Our Ministry Partners are just that—partners.  We work together, encourage one another, and support each other’s work.  Our partners are invested in Oak Hills, just as we are invested in them.  And we have found over and over again that just having one or two staff members interested in the partner’s ministry is not enough.  We NEED the congregation.  Our partners need the support of the WHOLE church.  They need all our prayers, our encouragement, our thoughts and our support. 

Ministry can be grueling at times, and every one of our partners has faced at least one season of feeling alone in their work.  I have found that I cannot support each of our partners as I would like, because we have 20 Ministry Partners, and I am one person!  The Ministry Partner Fair is the chance for all of us to come together, learn more about our partners, and encourage them in what they do.  My hope is that each and every person who comes on Sunday the 21st, would be drawn to one of the ministries.  

We need YOU, and what you have to offer relationally.  Perhaps you could consider signing up for an email list, or offering to pray for a need, or just spending time asking one of our partners about their work.  Each one of these things is immensely encouraging to our partners!  And as the Body of Christ, I believe we are called to encourage one another in the work Christ has set before us.  You never know: in your efforts to encourage one of our partners, you may be surprised to find yourself encouraged as well!


Backpack Drive

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Guest post by our ministry partner Twin Lakes Food Bank

Every year Oak Hills, and many other churches and organizations in the area, partners with Twin Lakes Food Bank to bring backpacks to students in need in the community. As you are able, bring a backpack and school supplies to Oak Hills Church between now and July 31st, or deliver it straight to the food bank!


Our goal is to make going back to school an exciting time for at risk kids within our community. Each student entering kindergarten through high school will receive a new backpack, essential school supplies and a Payless Shoe Source gift card. These cards have a “no cash back” policy, and they enable the student to pick out a new pair of shoes for school. Along with these new shoes, each student will take home new socks and a bag of kid friendly nutritious food. The generosity of local dentists provides each child with a dental kit.

On Monday, August 1, 2016 from 9:00 am until 11:30 am the Twin Lakes Food Bank will be having our annual Back to School event.  Last year, 721 children received backpacks and essential supplies.

Would you consider helping a student start the 2016 school year off on a positive note?  Twin Lakes Food Bank is in need of donations of all types. Monetary donations allow for the purchase of the shoe cards at a discounted rate. All back to school supplies that a child needs will be lovingly passed on to a thankful student. The Twin Lakes Food Bank serves our local communities of Folsom, Granite Bay, and El Dorado Hills.


A list of needed supplies is available at the Mission Booth in the lobby. Donations can be dropped off there between now and Sunday, July 31st. For more information, contact Pastor Megan Harrison at

Giving Campaign

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By Lorraine Rothenburg, Community Care & Assimilation Pastor

It was November of 2013. That’s when we first started talking with our church family about a new giving campaign to address some practical and ministry needs and goals. We started with interviews with some church individuals and families, and then a church survey followed by a Congregational Meeting and Vision Night on November 21 of that year. Our campaign team met with a consultant to map out plans for the two-year campaign, and after that we met weekly for many months. It was a fun and exciting time of preparing!

We officially launched “to the modular & beyond!” in February of 2014, which ran for 7 weeks and culminated in a big All-Church Banquet on March 29th and Celebration Sunday on April 6th. Those weeks were a whirlwind of meetings, a leadership dessert, informational gatherings with our pastors, introduction to our beloved mascot Lars, and more (including prayer!). Our print materials mapped out our campaign vision and goals, which included renovation of most of our modular buildings, moneys to go toward paying down one of our mortgages and moneys toward needs of one of our ministry partners – Restoration Ministries in Brazil.

And now, more than two years later, here we are. At the end of May, we are wrapping up our campaign. How did we do? Good question! As of today, we:

  • Have received $911,000 of the pledged $1,000,000. That’s amazing! That leaves only $89,000 to yet receive (and more), which we hope to receive by the end of this month from pledged gifts as well as new gifts.
  • Have renovated modular buildings C & D (classroom spaces). These rooms house a bunch of our outside recovery groups (such as AA and Al Anon), as well as other groups. We have also renovated buildings F & G, our staff/pastoral offices. We are so very grateful to be working and serving our church folks and community in new offices that look (and smell) amazing and are so much more hospitable and safe. Building A, our Youth Auditorium, is almost fully renovated. This multi-purpose building will also be available for weddings, funerals, other church activities and outside rentals. Our church lobby also got a face-lift and update with new paint, artwork, signage and upgraded booths. The landscaping around our office buildings was redone and now our main office has a clearly marked, friendly entrance.
  • Have sent money to Restoration Ministries for the purchase of a much-needed bus and build-out of their dormitories. Their leaders visited us and shared in our services several times.
  • Have made multiple reductions to our mortgage payments: a total of $402,000, which means a reduction of our monthly payments by $2,700.
  • Have, as part of our desire to reach out more to Folsom families, hosted a variety of outside groups of various sizes, including housing 60 students overnight for 6 weeks for a wrestling camp!

Yes, we truly have much to celebrate. God has been so good to us. Our church family has sacrificed so much, both financially and in other ways, to help us accomplish our campaign goals. It has been fun to do this together. And now, as we are nearing the end of the campaign, it’s time to celebrate!

Join us on May 29th at 10am for our one-service Sunday as we celebrate together. We’ll follow our service with a great lunch and, of course, CAKE!! We hope you’ll make plans to join us.

And, if you didn’t get to participate in giving to the campaign and would like to, or want more information, stop by the Community booth in our lobby any time in May for materials. And your Lars mug!

Well done, Oak Hills Church! Well done. Let’s finish strong with our remaining gifts and celebrate God’s enduring faithfulness to us.

Lenten Prayer Reflection

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By Lorraine Rothenburg, Community Care & Assimilation Pastor

On a recent Friday at noon, I joined the weekly Lenten Prayer time led by one of our Spiritual Directors, Renee Schafer. I had missed the previous weeks simply because I was meeting with individuals over the lunch hour on the Lenten Fridays. But I made it to this one – the last one. Just barely; in fact, I was about 15 minutes late to it. But I felt led to go, and wow, am I ever glad I did!

Each Friday throughout Lent, Renee led those who showed up through a guided prayer experience based on a different theme. When I attended, it was about experiencing God in nature. She gave us some instructions about pictures, glue and scissors that would be available to us for about a 20-minute time, before which she led us in a prayer and a reading.   During that “crafting time”, we could choose pictures that meant something to us in how we engage with God. After sorting through the pile of picture book and magazine photos, I settled on a handful that spoke to me. And also being a “words person”, I found various words on the back of some of the clippings and managed to pull a phrase together that fit my pictures.  It’s a bit messy, given the short amount of time I got to work on it. The clipped words aren’t exactly straight or even.  Some of the pictures extend past the edge of the paper underneath while others didn’t make it quite to the edge. It’s ok. It still speaks to me. It reminds me of who I am and who God is in my life.

I won’t go into why each picture is meaningful to me.  What I do want to tell you is how amazing these special prayer times are.  Part of it is the activity that participants partake in. It’s also about being with others in the process and being reflective while tuning into what God might have to say.  A huge part is just showing up. Being intentional about carving out time in our busy calendars to “taste and see that the Lord is good”.

I hope to participate more the next time some of these special prayer gatherings and experiences are available. Especially in our Lenten and Advent seasons. I hope you will, too. I think you might also be inspired, as I was.  And still am, as I reflect on the images and words on my clipping “masterpiece” sitting on my desk. God is good and I am blessed. This Lenten and Eastertide season, may you also be blessed.

Lent collage

A Reflection on the Seder Meal

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By Lorraine Rothenburg, Community Care & Assimilation Pastor

When our son got married in 2011, it became more evident to me that I was going to have to share them with his wife’s side of the family on holidays. I asked them for one “non-negotiable” holiday to be with us each year – Christmas Eve. It’s a super-special day, as it holds many years of family memories and traditions for me. And with my parents now gone, it falls to me to keep those traditions going. Most of our Christmas Eve traditions center around the dinner, with a traditional Swedish Christmas meal. Pickled herring, breads and cheeses, mustard-basted ham and rice porridge, to name a few culinary delights.

Yet, when we gather around that table each year, it’s about so much more than the food itself. As we eat, we reflect on the goodness of God made manifest in His Son. We remember with fondness those who taught us these traditions and are no longer with us. It connects us to the past. We remember our Swedish roots and we preserve them for the next generation.

Some 2000 years ago, Jesus was gathered around a table with those most dear to him to celebrate the Passover meal, one of the most important religious festivals in Judaism, commemorating God’s deliverance of His people from their enslavement in Egypt. The Passover meal, still celebrated today, is a communal meal, called the Seder (which means “order”, as there is a fixed order of service and partaking of the elements). It’s a meal of remembering and celebrating complete with games for the children.

The Haggadah is a printed order of service made available to each person so that they can share in the reading and singing of the Exodus story. It’s a story that recounts the faithfulness of God in the deliverance of his people and foreshadows the true lamb that would come to take away the sins of the world. As we come to the Seder table, we remember the Jewish roots of our Christian faith as well as God’s great gift of salvation to us through our Savior, Jesus the Messiah.

Join us on Maundy Thursday, March 24th at 6pm in our Main Auditorium as together we remember and celebrate Jesus and the Passover through a Seder meal. We’ll enjoy a wonderful dinner, followed by a guided experience through a Seder meal by Jacob Cohen. You can register on our website at under Event Registration by March 20th. There’s a suggested $5/person or $15/family donation to cover the cost of the evening. Hope you can join us for this special evening.

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