from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas

Contact: Tom Goodman, Pastor

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Hillcrest Church Office
December 11, 2003

LeaderLines is a weekly “e-briefing” providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.

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Here is this week’s LeaderLines. . . .

SPECIAL NOTE:  We’ve prepared an e-card that you can send to your friends, inviting them to Christmas events at Hillcrest!  Go to www.HillcrestAustin.org/ecard to find it.  You only have a few days left to use this great outreach tool!  (You will also find an option to send an e-card promoting our January 9 event, “Finding God in The Lord of the Rings.”  I will tell you more about that event next week in Winning Ways.)

“Circles of Commitment”
by Tom Goodman

As a Hillcrest leader, it’s important to keep in mind that people are at different levels of commitment to Christ and his cause.  Think of these different levels as concentric circles, and let’s move from the outermost circle to the inner circle:

  • The Community:  This is the outermost circle of commitment.  Don’t think of “The Community” as all those in, say, a 10-mile radius around our building.  Instead, the Community our church is called to reach is made up of all the unchurched people known by those who attend Hillcrest.  Read that last line again . . . slowly.  The heart of my leadership strategy begins with that conviction.  I see my job in very simple terms:  I will equip our attenders to develop relationships with the unchurched people they know, and I will equip our leaders (you!) to develop events that our attenders will want to bring unchurched people to.  To understand how vast this outermost circle is, add up all the unchurched people you interact with (neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and so on).  Then, multiply that number by our membership.
  • The Crowd:  This is the next circle in.  Once an unchurched person accepts our invitation to attend one of our services, they’ve moved from “The Community” to “The Crowd.”  The majority of people who decide to “give church a try” do so on Sunday mornings, so it’s particularly important that our morning activities have them in mind!  Keep in mind that only a portion of those attending are members—and that’s the way it should be!  In fact, some who regularly attend aren’t even Christians yet.  This awareness won’t ever cause us to change our message, but it ought to cause us to constantly review the ways we share our message.
  • The Congregation:  After people attend for a while, many decide to become members (and to become believers if they haven’t taken that step before).  This is the next circle of commitment as we move inward through the concentric circles.  Our “Discover Hillcrest” class is designed to introduce people to what it means to be a member so that people can make an informed and enthusiastic commitment to our church’s mission.
  • The Committed:  We need to make sure that we’re constantly challenging our members to commit to the disciplines of spiritual growth: Honor the Lord of Life, Invite Your World to Life, Love the Fellowship for Life, and Live the Word in Life.  As a leader, stop right now and pray for those who need to move from the circle of “The Congregation” to the circle of “The Committed.”
  • The Core: Now we’re at the innermost circle in our five concentric circles.  The people in this circle are members of the congregation who are committed to spiritual growth and who have accepted positions of service and responsibility at Hillcrest.  Most who get LeaderLines every week are found in this circle.

What a huge responsibility you and I have as Hillcrest leaders!  Our job is nothing less than moving each person through the circles!  That involves identifying the “circle of commitment” a person is in, and then finding ways to move them to the next level.

Next week we’ll take a look at how to do just that!  In the meantime, I hope to see you at our Christmas Dessert Theater this Friday or Saturday, and at our Adult Christmas musical this Sunday!