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Elevating Vision, Part Three
by Tom Goodman
October 6, 2011


The elevator at Seton Hospital chimed as the door opened at the ground floor.  Knowing I'd lose my cell phone signal on the ride up, I quickly wrapped up my call.

"Jami, I'm at Seton about to visit Lucille," I told my assistant.  "I'll be back at the church in 45 minutes."

As I put the phone back in my pocket, the man who stepped into the elevator next to me said, "Church.  You must be a pastor."

It never ceases to amaze me at how this public identification causes people to turn for a look, and upon the man's comment, two others in the elevator turned to get a quick glance at this remarkable creature called "a pastor."

"Yep," I said to the man, "Hillcrest Baptist Church."  Noticing he was a doctor, I added, "Don't y'all usually take the staff elevator?  These public ones at Seton are the slowest in town."

He grinned and nodded.  "The door opened when I walked by."

Another ding, the door opened on the first floor, and the two other passengers stepped off, leaving the doctor and me alone for the ride up to the eighth floor.

"So, my brother says he's started to attend church," the man said, staring at the floor numbers over the door.

I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it sounded like church wasn't part of his own routine.

And it sounded like an invitation.

"Oh?" I said, "Has that made you think about that step yourself?"

"Well, my brother seems to be pretty high on it."

"Good for him!" I said, grinning.  "Does he go to a church in town?"

"He's in Phoenix."

"Well, come check out Hillcrest.  Our priority is to be a church where people can find and follow Jesus together."

I admit it sounded a little canned, but the elevator was passing the third floor, so I pushed on.  "That means that whether you want to investigate faith or grow in your faith, that work is best done with others instead of by yourself.  We want to be a place where spiritual investigation and spiritual growth can take place together.  On our best days, it's wonderful to hear the conversations that take place as honest seekers and humble believers build relationships with each other."

He nodded, thoughfully.  I was hoping my image of Hillcrest was giving him the confidence to brave a visit to this unfamiliar country called "church."

"I expect a lot of churches in Austin have that same vision," I added, "but what I like about serving Hillcrest is we're deliberately multigenerational in that work.  Some churches are good at targeting those who are older or those who are younger, but we just think there's some good in all the generations learning from each other.  I like the Sundays when I can do a baby dedication and recognize a 50th wedding anniversary at the same time."

He laughed, "Not the same couple I hope!"

I laughed, too.  I wanted to add a comment about Abraham and Sarah, but I wasn't sure he'd catch the reference to the biblical story.

"Do you have some time for coffee?" I asked.

"Not right now," he said, but added, "Do you have a card?"

I took out my wallet and pulled out a card with my contact information.  I wrote down "Sundays @ 10."  There are, of course, a lot of entry points to invite people into Hillcrest, but our one Sunday morning worship experience is still the Number One entry point.

"Thanks," he said.  "Maybe you'll see me there."

"I bet your brother would like that," I said, smiling.


This is a fictional story, but I'll be ready should it ever materialize!  Two weeks ago in LeaderLines I introduced you to the concept of the "elevator speech."  Business consultants advise clients to go through the discipline of preparing a 30- to 60-second summary of what their company does and how it could add value to the prospect.  The theory is that you should be able to summarize what you do to a complete stranger in the time it would take you to share a ride in an elevator.  Last week in LeaderLines I published a number of "elevator speeches" submitted by readers.  Now, let's put these thoughts to good work as we invite people to Hillcrest on October 16!


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