LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“The Lord of the Rings: Step Two”
by Tom Goodman
April 28, 2005

Isn’t it great to see folks lined up across the front of the church on the days we present new members!  That’s the second step in moving people through the Commitment Rings.

We’ve been looking at these Rings in LeaderLines.  Think of five concentric rings.  Moving from the outermost in, the five rings would be labeled:

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

Last week we looked at how to move people from the Community Ring to the Crowd Ring.  We defined the Community as all the unchurched people known by those who attend Hillcrest.  When they begin to attend Hillcrest, they become part of our Crowd.  This week we’ll see how to get those who are part of the Crowd to become part of our Congregation.

Finding ways to attract unchurched people so that they begin attending on Sunday mornings is a big step, but certainly not the last step!  Once an unchurched person begins to attend and becomes a part of our Sunday morning Crowd, what’s next?

Use your imagination and picture those five Commitment Rings:  Once we’ve attracted someone from the Community into the Sunday morning Crowd, we need to start finding ways to move them from being an attender in the Crowd to being a member in the Congregation.  There are two ways to become a member: through profession of faith or transfer of membership.

In order to do this, Hillcrest needs to do two things: first, we need to constantly express the WORTH in committing to Christ and His church.  We should not simply assume that people know the reasons to make this commitment.  In our Sunday School classes, in our personal comments, and in our worship services, we have to constantly explain why committing to Christ and His church is worthwhile.  We have to be ready to take the time to answer people’s honest questions that have served as barriers to their commitment in the past.  To those who are already believers, we need to be able to tell them the benefits of joining Hillcrest among all the great options they have in this town.

So, the first thing we need to do is express the WORTH in committing to Christ and His church.  Second, we need to constantly express the WAY a person commits to Christ and His church.  We need to use language that is understandable and clearly express the steps a person needs to take.

At Hillcrest, we provide several avenues to express this WORTH and WAY:

First, we provide age-appropriate “discovery” classes called “Discover Hillcrest.”  Here we teach the gospel, the meaning of baptism, and the basic priorities of our church.  I’m so glad this church has made the completion of this class a requirement for membership.

Second, we direct those who are interested in learning more about Christ and membership to complete a card at the end of our morning services.  You’ll notice we’ve added a big stack of pencils and cards within arm’s reach of every seat in the house.  This was deliberate!  You would be amazed at how effective these Communication Cards have been when we discuss them at the end of each service!

How can you contribute to this process of moving people from the Crowd into the Congregation?  First, watch for opportunities to personally share with people your enthusiasm for Christ and for Hillcrest.  Review the reasons that you are glad you’re saved and involved in Hillcrest so that you can share those reasons when given a chance.  Second, if you are a Sunday School leader, scan your roll for those who haven’t made a profession of faith and for those who haven’t joined, and urge them to attend a Discover Hillcrest class.  Third, if you know someone is ready to make a decision for salvation or church membership, offer to walk with them as they come forward at the end of the service to talk with a staff member or Response Team member.

Now, after they make a commitment to Christ and to membership, what’s next?  Sadly, too many church members think this is the end of the journey!  As you can see in the introduction above, there are two more Rings to move people into beyond simple membership.  As thrilling as it is to see unchurched people begin attending and then join our church, there’s more work to do!  Next week we’ll look at how to move people from the Congregation Ring into the Committed Ring.


Important Notes:

Mother’s Day Parking:  On Mother’s Day, May 8, we need to free up parking spaces in our largest paved lots (the ones closest to the Children’s Wing).  If you don’t have small children to handle, please park in the gravel lot on the other side of the gym (where the new retaining wall was built).  We need about 25 cars that are normally parked in these big lots to be moved to the gravel lot on May 8.
Schedule Proposal:  In last week’s Quarterly Business Meeting, the congregation passed a motion from one of our members asking the staff to schedule another consideration of our schedule proposal.  The accepted motion was to ask the staff to bring a recommendation in just ONE area of last year’s schedule proposal:  Adult Sunday night programming.  If you remember last year’s proposal, the staff recommended that the Sunday night service be moved to Wednesday night.  The only adult program on Sunday night would then be a ninety-minute slot of classes called the Hillcrest Institute.  Our staff is looking at the church calendar to determine the best time to hold this special business meeting.  We will let you know when it has been scheduled.

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