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Stages Up the H.I.L.L. -- Stage Four
by Tom Goodman
August 4, 2011

I see Hillcrest becoming a church where people can find a follow Jesus together.  In the last several editions of LeaderLines we've been looking at this vision -- and your part in fulfilling it.  (Read previous entries in this series here.)

Today we'll look at how to lead people into "stage four" in finding and following Jesus together.  We must recognize that people are at one of four stages when it comes to the "life purposes" all humans must fulfill.  God made us to honor him, invite others to him, love each other, and live his Word -- at our church we call that our "H.I.L.L." to climb.

When we fulfill those purposes, we are fulfilled as human beings.  At Hillcrest, we should expect to have people at four stages when it comes to these life purposes:

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."

Someone at Stage One is being exposed to the H.I.L.L. we're meant to climb:  She catches a vision of the way life could be as she spends time with believers -- in structured Hillcrest activities as well as informal social occasions.

By the grace of God, she reaches Stage Two where she agrees with the life purposes:  She accepts Christ's offer of forgiveness, commits to the path he wants her to walk, and she formally connects with the Hillcrest community through membership.

Then, at Stage Three, she grows in her ability to honor God, invite her world to the new life she's found, love others, and live the Word.  She's climbing the H.I.L.L.

What's next for her?  As Hillcrest leaders, we need to notice that she's climbing the H.I.L.L. and move her into a position of influence or leadership where she can advance the life purposes in others.  That's our work with people at Stage Four.

Notice a few things about that last paragraph:

First:  I've described people at Stage Four as those in positions of "influence or leadership."  Positions of leadership involve official roles such as teacher or committee chairman or deacon, and so on.  However, there are more positions of influence than there are positions of leadership.  Positions of influence include such informal tasks as giving a testimony in a service, being the "go to" person for advice, or being the "E.F. Hutton" for a particular circle of relationships.  (Okay, if you're old like me you'll remember the old commercial:  "When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.")  Every leader is an influencer, but you don't have to be a leader to be an influencer.

Second:  I believe the only people who should lead and influence a congregation are "Stage Four" people.  These are people who agree with the life purposes (Stage Two), are actually practicing the purposes (Stage Three), and are therefore leading others to accept and practice the purposes (Stage Four).  Sadly, this is not the case for every church.  Too many of us have served in too many church settings where the leaders and influencers were not passionate Christ-followers and did not have a priority to make others passionate Christ-followers.  Let's make sure that the only people we put in the "driver's seat" of our church are people who are trying to reproduce their own passion for Christ in others!

Third:  It's the job of leadership to build leadership.  The Apostle Paul said something about this:  "And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others" (2 Timothy 2:2).  Now, he was speaking specifically about the role of pastors, but the principle applies to other leadership positions:  Multiply yourself!  Enlist and equip others!  If you're a leader, part of your job is to watch for those who "get it" and put them into positions where they can lead and influence others.  The other side of that coin is relevant, too:  Make sure you guard the positions of influence and leadership in our church.  Don't occupy those positions with people who aren't climbing the H.I.L.L. and who don't have a drive to help others up the H.I.L.L.

I hope this overview of our church's work has been helpful.  If you need to review the previous LeaderLines entries, click here.


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