LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
February 5, 2004

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. . . .

“Find the Core People from Your Committed People”
by Tom Goodman

WOW!  Over 550 attended a Bible Study group at 9:30 this past Sunday, and over 600 joined us in the two worship services.  Let’s give a high-five to all the Sunday School leaders who made this the highest February attendance in the history of the church!

In this edition of LeaderLines we conclude our series on the “Circles of Commitment.”  We’ve been looking at the different levels of commitment to Christ and His church.  Think of those levels of commitment as five concentric circles.  Moving from the outermost ring to the inner ring, you would label and define the five rings like this:

The Community:  all the unchurched people known by those who attend Hillcrest
The Crowd:  our Sunday morning attendance at Bible study and worship
The Congregation:  those who become members of our church through profession of faith or transfer from membership in another church
The Committed:  those who are climbing the discipleship H.I.L.L.—Honoring the Lord of Life, Inviting their World to Life, Loving the Fellowship for Life, and Living the Word in Life.
The Core:  those in places of influence and leadership who help Hillcrest move people through the Circles.
Notice that I defined the Core as those who are in places of influence and leadership where they help Hillcrest move people through the Circles.  Those in places of leadership work on committees, teach the classes, serve as deacons, and head our programs.  In addition to the recognized leaders, every church has people of influence who are not necessarily in official positions.  These are the congregation’s “bell cows” whose opinions shape the opinions of others.  Iowa’s legendary coach, Hayden Fry, pointed to his ability to enlist the support of the “bell cows” among his players as one of the secrets of his success:

My dad told me to go out and feed the cows one morning.  I said, “Dad, there’s no way I can find all those cows.”  He said, “Yes, there is, son.”  He said, “You’ve always got a leader.  I put a bell around that leader.  I call it the bell cow.  You listen for that bell, and you go out there in that pickup truck and throw the hay out.  All the other guys will be there because they’re following that bell cow.”  As the head coach, I tried to pick a couple that were bell cows for the whole team.  All the players will pay more attention to one of their own that they respect and appreciate, the bell cow, the leader.  Then you develop more bell cows within the group.*
Now, every week we’ve highlighted the importance of moving people from one Circle to the next.  This is true at the Core level, too.  I’m always on the lookout for those in the Committed Circle who are ready to be enlisted for the Core.  It’s vital that we develop leaders and “bell cows” by identifying people in the Committed Circle who will do their part to help Hillcrest move people through the Circles.  There are other qualities to look for when looking for leaders, but a person isn’t ready for Hillcrest leadership without this quality.

So, here’s a summary of the process we’ve looked at in the last several weeks of LeaderLines:  First, we reach out to our Community until they become active Sunday morning attenders—this makes them part of our Crowd.  Second, we find ways to convince attenders to join our church by profession of faith or transfer of membership—this makes them part of our Congregation.  Third, we develop those who have become members so that they are climbing the discipleship H.I.L.L.—this makes them part of the Committed.  Finally, we develop the Committed until they can be leaders and influencers who help Hillcrest move people through the Circles—this makes them part of our Core.

That’s what God has called us to do.  So, if someone asks you if we’re trying to be a church that attracts seekers or a church that’s trying to develop Christians, what will you tell them?


You’re getting good at remembering that answer!  It’s true.  Sadly, lots of churches have a narrow-minded focus on moving people from just one circle to another.  For example, a few churches are real effective at attracting seekers, but they don’t know what to do with them afterward.  I also know a few churches whose single focus is on helping existing Christians go deep.  Of course, way too many churches just work on moving members from the Congregation circle of one church to the Congregation circle of another church.

But God wants his churches to pay attention to all the Circles of Commitment.  We need to have a passion and a plan to take people in any Circle and move them to the next Circle.

As Clark Kent said, “This is a job for Superman!”  I’m sure glad God gives strength and wisdom for the work!


*  You can find Hayden Fry’s leadership insights in an article with former Baylor football coach, Grant Teaff, at www.afca.com/pdf/03PM_Master_Coach.pdf [requires Adobe Acrobat to access].  Since we’re a flock and not a herd, maybe it would be best to call our influential members “bellwethers,” instead of “bell cows!”  A bellwether is an old word for a bell-wearing “wether,” or sheep, that other sheep follow.