LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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Hillcrest Church Office
March 11, 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. . . .

“Streamlining our Church Schedule”
by Tom Goodman

When I arrived here last year, one of the first things the staff and several leaders asked me to do was help the church streamline our schedule.  After these ten months of observation, I can see why!  We really do need to review our schedule, and that process has begun.

The first step will be to hammer out some kind of proposal at the staff level.  We start this process with the staff because your Ministry Staff has about 110 years of combined experience in full-time church leadership.  Gene, Jim, BJ, Herb and I have worked in a lot of different ministry settings and we constantly talk with colleagues about what works and doesn’t work in their churches.  So, while the discussion certainly won’t end at the staff level, that’s where it should begin.

The next step will involve key leaders in reviewing the proposal in April and May.  They have a deep commitment to the areas of ministry they lead, and they need to be part of the process.  Several leaders have acknowledged that we need to streamline our schedule and I know they are looking forward to any effort at a solution.

By the time we’ve completed this step, nearly a hundred adults will be involved in the discussion.  That will lead us to the third step—presenting the proposal to the church for action.  Hopefully, we’ll be ready for that step in May or June.  Assuming a final proposal is accepted, we could implement the changes in late August.

Here are four principles we need to keep in mind as we streamline our schedule:

First, our church schedule must honor everyone’s time.  One of the most precious things people give us is their time, and our schedule must value that.

Second, our church schedule must align with our church purposes.  Our church exists to reach people for Jesus and get them up the H.I.L.L.  If our people are going to make it up the discipleship H.I.L.L., we need to make sure that we’re allowing time for people to develop in all four areas.  For example, if we discover a whole lot of opportunities to increase our Bible knowledge but we’re leaving very little room for other vital aspects of discipleship, we need to restore balance to our church’s work.

Another way our church schedule contributes to our church purposes:  We need to give proper priority to the things that deserve it.  For example, Sunday School is one of the largest and most important ministries of the church, but when do our monthly leadership meetings take place?  They’ve had to be scheduled at the same time as Midweek Service, Overcomers, Precept, Discipleship Training, Children’s Mission Organizations, and on and on.  In order for Sunday School leaders to give this important ministry the attention it deserves, we need a leadership meeting that doesn’t compete with anything else.

We have to observe this second principle (finding a way to align our program with our purposes and giving proper attention to certain ministries) while also observing the first principle (our church schedule must honor everyone’s time).

Third, our church schedule must give our people time to develop relationships outside of church.  This is so important!  If our folks are always at church, what time have we given them to really get to know people who need the Lord?  Jesus told us that we are the salt of the earth, and we Baptists do a great job of organizing salt:  we’ve got the Senior Adult Salt involved in a lot of activities and we’ve got the Youth Salt in a lot of projects and we’ve got the Kid Salt in numerous classes.  Somewhere along the way, though, we have to ask ourselves a good question about this salt-shaker called Hillcrest:  Is the job of a salt-shaker to organize salt or scatter it?

Fourth, our church schedule must allow our leaders to focus their resources for quality.  We need to learn in our labors what civil engineers have learned in nature.  Engineers know that if they dam up a river and channel the water into a narrow passage, the mighty force of that focused water can drive turbines fast enough to generate electricity.  In fact, a third of the world’s electricity is produced in these hydroelectric plants.  There is power in focused water . . . and there is power in focused activity!  We shouldn’t dissipate our time, talent, income, personnel, and energy across too many things.  I have high expectations for all my leadership-partners because God deserves our very best.  Sometimes we need to reduce the frequency of our activities so we can give attention to the quality of our activities.

If we apply these four principles to our schedule examination, what kind of schedule will result?  That remains to be seen.  For the next few weeks, though, I need you to keep the whole process in prayer.  This doesn’t have to be a time of anxiety but excitement!  God will bless a schedule that is built by the four principles above, and so as we take these four principles seriously, I look forward to how God will bless Hillcrest!

Serving the Flock,

•  Continue to spread the word about our new Sunday night series, Experiencing the Passion of the Christ.  At our website (www.HillcrestAustin.org) you will find an Acrobat version of our promotional flyer and an attractive e-card for you to send to friends.  You can also pick up as many flyers as you need from the church office.

•  David Kemerling has announced his upcoming departure from our church staff.  If you need more information about David’s plans and the future of our singles ministry, go to www.HillcrestAustin.org/singles.