by Pastor Kent Carlson


I absolutely loved our church’s 30-year anniversary celebration weekend. I’m not completely sure why it was so profoundly satisfying and fun for me. I just know that it was perhaps the most enjoyable time I have had in thirty years of ministry at Oak Hills Church. Maybe it was because we were so very relaxed going into that weekend. Maybe it was because we weren’t really using the celebration for much of anything other than to have a party together. Maybe it was the amazing performance of the Oak Hills Rewind. Maybe it was seeing Rick Leary in long hair. Whatever it was, I had a blast.

The predominant feeling I have coming out of this celebration is gratitude. Thirty years is a long time to be in one place. In one church. There are so many stories, so many beautiful people, so many experiences of God’s grace and transformation. So many people who have sincerely sought to follow Christ in the midst of what seemed like impossible situations. And all these stories flooded over me, and I was, and continue to be, deeply grateful to God and to the people of Oak Hills Church, for all this goodness, all this beauty, all these stories that are a part of God’s great story of redemption. This Thanksgiving, without any effort at all on my part, but simply as the natural result of being overwhelmed by the goodness of God and the people of Oak Hills Church, I am deeply grateful. It’s a good feeling.

Now, on to the next thirty years!

I want to highlight two events to help us bask in the sheer delight of our 30-year celebration. First, we have our Annual Congregational Meeting and Vision Night on Thursday, November 20. We will worship together, meet our elders and vote to affirm them. We will talk about some of the challenges and opportunities in our future and have a time for questions and answers. We will have a scrumptious dessert. And most wonderfully, we will have a repeat of our Oak Hills Rewind. For those of us who have already seen it, we will be able to laugh all over again. For those of you who have never seen it, well, you are in for a treat. Please try to make this night a priority and let’s keep the celebration going!

Second, I want to encourage us all to come to our annual Thanksgiving Eve Service. We will worship together “in the round” and we will share together the Lord’s Supper. There will be ample opportunity to share with each other our deep gratefulness to God for all that He as done for us. I hope to see you all there.

With deep thankfulness,

Kent Carlson







by Brian Robertson, Pastor of Student Ministries

There is something interesting emerging in our culture that has caused us to rethink how it is we approach the concept of nurturing faith in the future generations. For years we have assumed that the best way to teach/lead young people is to provide specialized programming especially for them. The adolescent stage of life is full of young people seeking to understand their own identity, sense of autonomy and find a place of belonging. There is a natural pulling away from adults in their life during this stage – you may have experienced this. As adults, we have taken this as a hint to give them space and leave them alone. In our best efforts, we provide various places/programs where they can be with others their own age and explore their faith.

What is interesting is that most young people voice a desire to have deep relationships with adults in their life but don’t feel as though the adults really want them around. Yet for years we have operated as if the most effective way to reach/lead/teach young people was in providing a place away from most adults. We have intentionally separated from each other believing that this would allow young people to own their faith.

Recent studies seem to point to a different reality. The main factor we can see in a young person having a growing and developing life with God post-high school isn’t having specific programs, camps, mission trips just for them but in developing relationships with 5-6 caring adults who are a part of their faith community. In an interesting study, the Fuller Youth Institute followed graduated seniors through their college transition and found that the majority who were highly involved in a youth ministry left the church and their faith within 18 months. The common factor in the stories of people who grew in their faith was a sense of integration into the church body. In other words, they felt as if they belonged to an extended family. It is increasingly becoming evident that what young people need more of is a network of caring adults who make room for them in their life and invite them to sit alongside as we explore a life of faith together.

In recognition of this, we are making some changes in the way we structure our youth ministries. InSight Middle School will happen on Sunday mornings from 11:00-12:30. On the first Sunday of the month, we will continue to invite students to join the rest of the church family for worship and communion afterward we will gather with whomever would like to and go out to lunch. We are creating space on Sunday evening to encourage families to connect with other families in the church and help facilitate cross-generational relationships. In addition, we will be hosting a number of workshops for adults who have teens in their life.

With these changes, we still feel that it is important to have a place that is unique for students. We will still take students away for camp, special events, activities, mission trips, etc. The big recognition is that while these events/programs are important, they cannot replace the importance of cross-generational relationships and a network of supportive adults within the faith community.

Our high school group, will in many ways, stay the same. Most of the changes will occur in our middle school group.

How does this affect you? A couple of ways. If you have a teenager…

1. Please commit to coming each week to the 11am service and give a little grace for us as we will end closer to 12:30.

2. Encourage your son/daughter to continue to come to church on Communion Sunday. I realize they may push against this and even fight you on this, but it is important for them to begin to develop cross-generational relationships and see others worshipping together.

3. Find other families within the church whom you can have over for dinner – share a meal and play together.

4. Participate in the upcoming seminars/workshops that will be offered to help facilitate ongoing conversations.

5. A couple ways to stay informed on what is happening around InSight Youth Ministries:

a. Subscribe to the blog:

b. Join the Insight Youth Ministries Group on Facebook

c. Ask to be added to either the Middle School or High School email list (send an email to:

If you don’t have a teenager living at home…

1. Would you take the risky step in approaching one before or after the service and simply seek to get to know them a little? Ask them if you will see them the following week and seek to remember their name … don’t overwhelm yourself, just ONE will do!

2. Seek ways to connect to a family of teenagers – invite them to join you in something.

3. Find a young person in the service and find out a way that you might encourage them to continue to seek first the Kingdom of God – ask them if you might pray for a certain area in their life.

4. Serve alongside a young person – go on a mission trip, serve in ARTS Camp, invite teenagers to join you as you serve in the community

Thank you, Church Family, for loving the next generation. Together we can help young people have a faith that is dynamic, growing and life-giving.

I’m excited for these changes and if you have any questions about them, just let me know.




Winter Camps for Middle & High School Students

by Brian Robertson, Pastor of Student Ministries

Elevation 2011

Why are retreats important for young people?

I was recently talking with one of our students. She was remembering the years in middle school, and we began to talk about the upcoming winter retreat called “Winter Wipeout.” It was fun.  We talked about the goofy games, the worship, the snow tube run, the friends, and the cabin devos. We laughed at the good memories, and she mentioned how bummed she was that her little sister had a scheduling conflict this year and wouldn’t be able to attend.  She went on to say that some of the best memories from her middle school years came from that simple weekend retreat to the snow.

This coming February, we will be taking young people again to the retreat.  Middle school camp (Winter Wipeout) is Feb 4-6 and high school camp (Elevation) is Feb 25-27.  And as both camps get closer and closer, I thought I’d share a few reasons why camp is an important aspect of young people’s lives.

(1)   ADVENTURE.  Young people have a heightened ability to experience and enjoy adventure.  Too often the stress of school, sports, and responsibilities can begin to weigh them down.  It is good for them to simply have fun and experience a little adventure in their life.

(2)   GOOFY SKITS/GAMES.  Yup, chances are at camp you will experience one or two goofy skits or games.  There will be times of laughing where we laugh so much that it hurts and we almost wet ourselves!  It is good to laugh together.

(3)   FOOD.  Everyone will be treated to a 4-star dining experience served on the finest china.  OK, so it’s camp and not a high-end restaurant, but both for the middle school and high school the food is actually good — believe me, it could be a LOT worse!

(4)   MENTORING. The best way mentoring relationships happen is by simply being with the person you are hoping to be mentored by.  Our goal is that each student at Oak Hills would have an opportunity to be in a mentoring relationship.  Sunday services and weekly youth group are great, but there is just something about the cumulative effect of camp (eating, sleeping, playing, and laughing together) that makes mentorship really possible.

(5)   ENCOURAGEMENT. Teenage (and pre-teen) years are notorious for feeling alone.  It is important for all of us — teens especially — to be reminded that you are not alone in this life, and you are not the only one seeking to follow Jesus.  There’s something encouraging that takes place at these camps.

(6)   NICKNAMES. Camps often are the breeding ground for good material in the giving of nicknames.  Some of our favorite names came from camp/retreat experiences — Wizz, Decaf, Peaches, Deuce, Netty, Barbie, Lafonda, Dirt, Perfs, and Pampers (though, we don’t really call him “pampers” anymore).

Winter Wipeout 2011

(7)   CAMP SONGS. No camp would be complete without fun camp songs — sometimes referred to as “silly songs” but more appropriately called Dumb Songs.  Yes, they are!  Dumb as they are, they are really fun and a camp staple!

So, if that isn’t enough encouragement for your student to come to camp with us, let me remind you of the conversation I had earlier this week.  This young woman is continuing to grow in her relationship with God and her passion for the things of God and points to camp as instrumental in her pursuit of God.

Both camps are coming up quickly, but there is still time to register!  Middle school camp (Feb 4-6) is $195.  High school camp (Feb 25-27) is $180 if you register by yourself or $165 if you register with a guest/friend.  Flyers are available at the Welcome Center in the lobby or by hitting the links below.

Winter Wipeout Flyer

Elevation 11 flyer

Father/Daughter Dance

by Jeanna Robertson

Samantha, Brian & Andrea

When I think about the Father/Daughter Dance, I think of it as one of the joys that light up my daughter’s eyes and is a something she looks forward to each year.  It’s a night of getting dressed up, going out to dinner, and spending a little “daddy-daughter time.” Recently, as I was reminiscing about past dances, it became clear that it was so much more.

As a mom, it brings me pure joy knowing that from a young age, my daughter is able to experience joy, love, and adoration from the “main” man in her young life – her dad.  It might seem weird, but on the night of the Father/Daughter Dance, her daddy is able to set a wonderful example, and give my daughter a solid foundation on which to build her own self-worth.  It starts with her getting dressed in her fancy dress – out of sight from Daddy.  Next, she is picked up for her “date” and driven to the restaurant of her choice.  When they arrive at the dance, the two of them walk in arm-in-arm to enjoy the rest of this special evening.

Samantha has attended the dances with Brian each year she has been able.  She waits with anticipation for the dance, and every year after the dance, she asks when she will get to do it again.  These experiences have made a lasting impression on her.

This year will be more even joyous in my house; Brian will proudly bare a beautiful princess on each arm.  Our youngest daughter, Andrea, is now old enough to join Brian, and she has been looking forward to it for months.  Her face just beams when we talk about it coming up.  She has heard and seen the impact it has had on her sister and cannot wait to have her time with Daddy!  Not only will this be Andrea’s first Father/Daughter Dance, but this year, she gets to pick the restaurant and she can’t wait! It truly makes the evening even more special.

I think the dinner beforehand makes the night just that much more special.  It gives them alone time to laugh and be silly together.  Once the dance starts, the girls may prefer to run and dance with their friends or do crafts, but I think that’s okay.  It won’t take away from the wonderful moments, no matter how brief, the girls will share with their dad that night.

Brian and I both understand that these early years are crucial in our daughters’ formation.  In a culture that puts pressure on families and invites girls to grow up fast, it is good to enjoy family and demonstrate a healthy father-daughter relationship — not to mention being able to demonstrate the way men ought to treat women.  We are humbled to be a part of a church that recognizes this and provides such meaningful experiences for our family.

Editor’s Note:  Our Father/Daughter Dance is Friday, January 14 from 6:30-8:30 pm.  The cost is $12/couple and $5 for each additional daughter.  Buy tickets at the Welcome Center on Sundays or contact Colleen Gray, our Children’s Ministries Director, at 983-0182 x31.

New Year’s Eve Party

by Brian Robertson, Pastor of Student Ministries

It is a good thing  to reflect and celebrate all that God has done for us this year and to look forward to what He has planned for us in the coming year!  Our New Year’s Eve Party is a great way to celebrate together as families with the greater Church family!  We invite you to join us for this family-friendly party!  We’ll pack out the auditorium with interactive inflatable games (bounce houses, obstacle courses, bungee run, Velcro wall, etc.), carnival games, and a photo booth!  For a minimal cost, they’ll be pizza AND soda AND Tasty-Time Ice Cream will be here to!

Aside from a wonderful opportunity to celebrate together as a family, as we think of our efforts in evangelism and reaching the people of Folsom and surrounding areas, this event is a great tool!  Simply invite others to join us as we celebrate — in essence to invite them to a family party!  With that in mind, I’d like to challenge each of us to think about 2-3 families who don’t typically come to church and invite them to come with you that evening: families at your child’s school; on their soccer team; in their boy or girl scout troop; in the neighborhood, etc.

For a growing or young family, it can be difficult to find good things to do as a family that doesn’t cost an arm and leg!  This year, tickets are $8 per person or $30 per family (refreshments – pizza, sodas and ice cream – will be available for an additional cost … so it should only cost you a finger or two!).

Each time we’ve hosted this party in the past, families have a ton of fun together.  We’ll have things for the little guys all the way up to adults to enjoy!  I hope that you can make it and will make the effort to bring with you a couple families who can experience Oak Hills Church as we bring in the New Year!

Here are the details: Dec 31st (obviously) from 6-9 pm.  Tickets are available beginning this Sunday, Dec 12, at the Spotlight Booth for $8/person or $30/family.

As with many events, this party will need a handful more volunteers to make it possible.  If you can help with decorating, set-up, monitoring the inflatables, cooking, or clean up … please let me know!  We could use another 10-15 people to help us make this a successful event and a great first impression to our friends/neighbors/guests!  Contact me at 983-0182 x19 or

Trinidad and Tobago Urban Ministries Steel Drum Band

by Pastor Brian Robertson

During Spring Break for the past four years, Oak Hills’ high school/college students have partnered with Trinidad and Tobago Urban Ministries (TTUM). Our missionary teams have brought the Good News into orphanages, elderly homes, villages, and drug rehab facilities. Our teams have also assisted them in their efforts of evangelism through a Vacation Bible School.

Every year, I leave Trinidad encouraged in my own daily walk with Jesus and inspired by what God is doing around the world to bring glory to His name! Short term missions have a way of rattling us a bit out of our comfort zones and into an understanding of God’s provision, strength, and grace. But there’s something else I love about my time in Trinidad … the people.

The Trinidadians we meet are fun, exciting and full of life! The people we’ve served with have a huge passion for Jesus. I’ve often heard people talk about the “Joy of the Lord” but, rarely have I met people who exude it as much as the people we serve with in Trinidad. It is difficult to communicate just what I mean. But that’s why I’m so excited for Oak Hills Church!

We have the unique opportunity to meet and be with a number of my friends from Trinidad! This month, a band (nine people – adults and a couple teenagers) from TTUM is traveling the US and playing their steel drums in various venues and churches. They’ll be traveling to California and staying with us. They will be worshiping with us on September 26th and will be playing various concerts in the area. I am so excited to share a part of my experience in Trinidad with our church family! Not only will they be worshiping with us on Sunday, but we’re having a luncheon for anyone who wants to meet and be with and hear a bit more of what God is doing in Trinidad — and possibly give you a shot at playing the steel drum!  (By the way, if you plan on joining us at the luncheon, RVSP to

They will be arriving Saturday, September 25th and leaving Thursday, September 30th. There are a couple of other ways you can spend time with TTUM: (1) we committed to providing places for them to stay. We’d like to have them stay in 2-3 different homes. (2) we’d like to provide dinners for them (they’ll be here for five nights). You can sign up to help provide dinner for the band — and eat with them!

This is a wonderful hospitality opportunity. If you’d like to house part of the band, or help provide a dinner, please let me know ASAP so we can make the necessary arrangements. I am excited to be able to share my friends with you!