LeaderLines – from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
Manage Your Subscription – Subscribe/Unsubscribe  Contact Us About Your Subscription

"Stages Up the H.I.L.L.Stage One"
by Tom Goodman
April 12, 2007

“Hillcrest is to be a place where northwest Austin can find and follow Jesus together.”

That’s our mission, our calling, our vision, our task—I’m not sure what the current management jargon is, but that statement summarizes what we’re supposed to do together as a congregation.

Imagine that:

  • Your worship services are attended by people who are finding and following Jesus together.  Seekers watch believers authentically worship God, and worship leaders ensure that every part of the service is relatable to new people whom God is drawing to himself.
  • Your Sunday School class or Common Ground group has people who are considering Christ as well as people who are committed to Christ.  Seekers grow as they learn biblical guidance, and believers grow as they try to answer the questions from their seeking friends.
  • Your Hillcrest Institute class has people who could win a Bible drill competition as well as people who have just begun to crack open a Bible.

Is that really how Hillcrest looks right now?  Not always.  But that’s why it’s called a vision!

If we are going to make that vision a reality, we have to realize that people are at different stages in responding to God’s call upon their life.  What’s God’s call?  God made us to HONOR him, INVITE others to him, LOVE each other, and LIVE his Word—at our church we call that the “H.I.L.L.” we’re meant to climb.  When we fulfill those purposes, we are fulfilled as human beings.  When it comes to fulfilling those life purposes, people are at one of these stages:

Stage One:  “I am exposed to the life purposes.”
Stage Two:  “I agree with the life purposes.”
Stage Three:  “I practice the life purposes.”
Stage Four:  “I advance the life purposes in others.”

Let’s look at Stage One.  As we build relationships with lost and unchurched persons, we expose them to the life purposes.  They get introduced to a better way of living as they simply watch us honor God, invite people to the Jesus way, love others, and live the precepts of the Word.  This happens in your neighborhood as you and other parents watch the kids at the neighborhood pool or cheer for the kids on the soccer sidelines.  This happens in your workplace as you complete assignments and as you socialize.

Eventually, some of the people from your neighborhood or workplace accept your invitation to Hillcrest, and they get even wider exposure to the H.I.L.L.  They see other believers working on the life purposes.  They hear the challenges from the sermons and small-group lessons, they sing along with songs that encourage us to practice the life purposes.  Soon, they are asking questions, offering to help with a room setup, joining us as we put a roof on a house, or volunteering to take dinner to a new friend in their small group who’s been hospitalized.  By this point they are deep in the process of finding Jesus among those who are following him.

How can we be a church filled with people who are finding Jesus among those who are following him?

Build relationships with your THEMs.  There is no church advertising campaign or visitation program that can substitute for this.  Jesus commissioned us to, “Go and make THEM my disciples,” so you have to identify who the THEMs are in your own life.  To learn more about this, on Sunday evening, April 29, 5:30-7:00pm, join Herb and Jim and me for our annual INVITE Strategy Seminar.

Be what you are!  You laugh at good jokes and cry at funerals.  You’re competitive on the golf course and you’re ambitious at work.  You are a growing disciple who has successes and setbacks, firm convictions and honest questions.  That’s what seekers need to see.  Handing them a tract won’t do it; sitting in a Bible study group with people too afraid to be real won’t do it.  They need to be exposed to the life purposes by spending time with people who are trying to live the life purposes (Honor, Invite, Love, and Live).

Consciously connect.  Whatever you lead or organize at church needs to be designed with everyone in mind: those who are finding Jesus as well as those who are following him.  Whether it’s a worship service you’re leading or a Bible study group, mission trip, or banquet you’re planning, make sure that you envision it through the eyes of those who are brand new to this church thing.

Be patient with them.  It will take a while for people at Stage One to become regular attenders at your event.  There may be habits and lifestyle choice they aren’t ready to lay down.  The answers to some of the questions they raise may be painfully self-evident to you, and yet they keep struggling with them.  If we’re really going to be a church where people find and follow Jesus together, patience is required.

Challenge them.  Real friends challenge each other to deal with things that need to be addressed.  You have to have patience, yes, but you also have to encourage them to take the next step with Jesus.

What’s the next step?  Those who are exposed to the life purposes must be encouraged to embrace them.  We’ll look at Stage Two next week.


This edition of LeaderLines is part of a series:

Week 1: Finding and Following Jesus Together
Week 2: Can People Find and Follow Jesus Together?
Week 3: Stages Up the H.I.L.L.

LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.

Do you know friends who would appreciate LeaderLines?  Just forward this e-mail to them!

Have you subscribed to LeaderLines?  You can subscribe by clicking here and following the instructions.  Your e-mail address will not be sold or given away to anyone, and you can automatically change your subscription or drop it by following the easy steps provided with each e-mail.