LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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“Three Reasons to Bring Your YES to Our Meeting!”
by Tom Goodman
June 2, 2005

In Winning Ways I encouraged the entire church to attend this Sunday’s business meeting at 6:30 p.m.  In this edition of LeaderLines, I want to issue a special challenge to my leadership partners to come out and support the staff’s recommendation.

I want to give you three reasons to support the recommendation, but first let me remind you what we’ll be voting on.  In the last 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.  The staff’s recommendation is 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.  Last year, one of our members volunteered to lead some singing and bring a devotional for those who did not want to attend the classes.  This option is still available for members who want to lead and/or participate in this.

Now, as one of our church’s leaders, why should you support this motion?  Three reasons.

First, voting for the motion puts a priority on discipleship.  I really enjoy our morning worship service, and this is the time the vast majority of our church comes for singing and a sermon.  Also, I really enjoy seeing people build fellowship through the small-group ministry (Sunday School and RiBS).  So, we already have a strong commitment to worship and to fellowship from a whole lot of people.  What’s missing is a “prime time” commitment to discipleship classes.  That can change.

Here’s what Herb wrote in his column this week:  “In trying to provide a quality coordinated discipleship menu, I have enlisted teachers and made some great courses available only to have people pulled out to attend this meeting or that meeting, all of which are important.  The cry of the urgent has often outweighed the long-term benefits of the available discipleship courses.  We really need to change this.  It is time to give discipleship a “primetime” place in our schedule and not just in our vision or on our banners.  ‘Live the Word in Life’ is a priority purpose and deserves a priority place in our schedule.”  Amen.

By the way, we’re not the only church considering this.  Our former Minister of Education, Charles Draper, told me that the church he now serves has just gone to the same Sunday evening schedule we’re proposing.  His church now does Discipleship Training instead of having everyone sit in the pews for another round of singing and preaching.  We’re not the only church staff that wants discipleship to be a priority.  Let’s support our strong Sunday morning focus on worship, and then let’s use Sunday evenings to meet our need for discipleship training!

Don’t forget: we’re not ending the evening service, but moving it.  We’re moving it from Sunday evening to Wednesday evening.  It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can object to moving our evening service to midweek so we can give prime time on Sunday evening to classes that build the spiritual maturity of our people!

Second, voting for the motion gives leadership a protected time for meetings.  When I first became your pastor, I couldn’t believe how chaotic your leadership meetings were!  They had to be scheduled at odd times, squeezed in between (and on top of) a long list of activities.  Deacons met during the evangelism training and discipleship classes.  So did the Missions Committee.  Once a month, Sunday School leaders had to meet during the midweek service.  Those who scheduled leadership meetings before or after our regular events had no child care.  It was a mess and still is!

Friends, this needs to change!  Our church has the best lay leaders in the world, but it’s impossible to have a well-coordinated leadership team without regular meetings.  And those meetings deserve a spot on the calendar that is protected.  Your staff is proposing a Sunday evening schedule that honors all our wonderful lay leaders with times for you to meet (with child care).  Why squeeze our important leadership meetings into a too-crowded calendar?  Let’s put an end to that!

Third, voting for the motion expresses trust in your staff.  You guys are great!  I’ve never seen any other church invest so much trust and confidence in its pastor and staff as you do!  The church’s constitution reflects that high trust by putting a lot of decision-making on my desk instead of on a church ballot.  This is both biblical and practical.  In fact, our constitution gives me the authority to change our church’s schedule without a vote.  When a church calls a pastor to lead them, few churches give him the authority to lead them.  Hillcrest is different, and what a joy it is to lead a church like this one!

Still, in this instance I’ve asked for you to express your support of my plans in a vote.  Not only that, but I’ve asked a whole lot of you to support my plans before I proceed with them.  In other words, I’m asking that eighty percent of the votes be “yes” votes before we make this change.  Last year, 79.4% of the vote was “yes.”  There were so many people who thought the motion would easily pass, so they didn’t bother to come out for the vote.  They supported it and they didn’t know anyone against it, so they didn’t think their vote was needed.  Now you know how important your vote is!  I need you this year.

I understand the concerns of those who want to keep things the way they are.  I’ve talked with them and enjoy their company.  They are valuable members of this church family.  I sympathize with their struggles as Hillcrest makes the same changes a lot of other churches are making.

Still, this vote is a chance for all of you to say to me and the staff, “We trust you.  We know you’ve prayed about this.  We know you’ve given this a lot of thought and you’ve had a lot of conversations with people.  We know you’ve consulted a lot of other churches.  We may still be fearful of some unknowns, but we trust your leadership.”

Pass this e-newsletter along to someone and encourage them to join you this Sunday evening at 6:30 p.m.  We really want to hear the heartbeat of the congregation on this matter.  Is the church ready to give discipleship priority?  Is the church ready to give the lay leaders the dedicated time they need for planning and prayer?  Is the church flexible enough to let their evening worship service be held on Wednesday instead of Sunday?  As your pastor, it’s important for me to know how well I’ve influenced the church in the last two years.

This is an exciting time to be in leadership at Hillcrest!  Our morning services aren’t just different—they’re better.  The improvements to our property aren’t just different—they’re better.  Our changes to children’s Bible study aren’t just different—they’re better.  Visitors are noticing, and they like what they see.  On average, two and even three people per week have joined the church since 2005 began.  A third of those have been by baptism and almost all of them have been adults.  I encourage you to pray that God will keep doing the great things he’s been doing in our church!


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