LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“The Lord of the Rings”
by Tom Goodman
April 14, 2005

Pop Quiz!  For the last two years I’ve been teaching us to look at our church work in a certain way:  Our job is to identify each person’s level of commitment to Christ, and then to help them reach the next level.

So, let’s see how good your memory is.  Here’s the pop quiz:  On a sheet of paper, draw five concentric rings.  Then, label them with the five levels of commitment that people to Christ and his cause.  Hint: All five labels begin with the letter “C.”

Begin . . .

. . . Time’s Up.  Okay, here are the answers, from the outermost ring to the inner ring:

       o  The Community
       o  The Crowd
       o  The Congregation
       o  The Committed
       o  The Core

How did you do?  A lot of us probably need a refresher!  Over the next few weeks in LeaderLines I want to look at these levels of commitment in more detail and suggest ways we can help people move to the next level.

Think of these different levels as concentric rings:

The Community:  This is the outermost ring of commitment.  Don’t think of “The Community” as all those in 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.  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 would want to invite unchurched people to attend.  To understand how vast this outermost ring 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 ring 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 Commitment Ring.  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:  Sadly, in every church there are members who are not committed to spiritual growth.  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.  This will bring them from the Congregation Ring into the Committed Ring.

The Core:  Now we’re at the innermost Ring in our five concentric rings.  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 category.

What a huge responsibility you and I have as Hillcrest leaders!  Our job is nothing less than moving each person through the rings!  That involves identifying the “ring 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!


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