Big News for Austin New Church

A message to the ANC Family:

Words cannot describe how amazing the last few years have been. I know I echo the thoughts of all the ANC staff when I say that it has been a joy to serve shoulder-to-shoulder with those of you who call ANC home as we seek to follow God wherever, whenever, and however He leads. It’s also incredibly refreshing to help lead a church that values transparency, authenticity, and humility as we seek to be good news to a city and region in need of good news.

Recently I’ve asked you to join together in prayer as we continue to seek next steps as a faith community. As we grow, we need to continue and be good stewards of the vision God has given us. We hope to continue and see people come to faith, find their identity in Christ, and find their purpose in His mission. We believe the greatest way to do that is to continue to equip and empower people to serve not only where they have been sent, but also where they are being sent. This recognizes a call to learn to be Jesus’ hands and feet to both our neighbors as well as to those in need… whether across the street, the tracks, or the ocean.

In answering this call, we believe that where we do “community”, where we “serve”, and where we “gather” for worship matters.

As I mentioned on two recent Sunday’s at ANC, we have been given the opportunity to join forces with a ministry in southeast Austin named The Well. Together we will serve a community called Dove Springs, which is one of Austin’s areas of greatest need. While The Well is a much smaller ministry than ANC, they have a very similar vision, and are excited about joining us and coming under our leadership to reach the Dove Springs area by becoming “ANC Dove Springs”. They have amazing partnerships already in the community with the River City Youth Foundation and the Dove Springs Recreation Center. They have a fantastic facility where they meet in the heart of the community. And in the middle of us searching for a place where we can (1) begin a new service identical to the one we have now, as well as (2) begin to invest ourselves deeply in the middle of need, and (3) serve in partnership with others already impacting a community… this is an amazing opportunity that certainly fits the bill.

As a friend of mine recently said, “So many churches are willing to go, but so few are willing to stay.” This is our opportunity to not only go, but to stay.

After a several months of consideration and prayer with both our board of directors and pastoral staff, we are in complete agreement that this is an opportunity God has placed in front of us to continue to be the church He has called us to be. I assure you that no rock has remained unturned. Not only does this answer the questions, “As we grow, how do we stay small? (for the sake of community)” and “As we go, how do we stay ONE? (for the sake of unity and mission)”, it helps us answer the call to serve our city in new and more sustainable ways. We’re literally moving into another neighborhood and adopting a model for church that is committed to being “sent”.

So how does this affect you and what does all this mean? Here are some important thoughts:

1) What will it look like? Our goal is to make the southeast (Dove Springs) gathering identical to our current Sunday experience. We will have live music and live teaching at both locations. You’ll see the same faces on stage, whether teaching, leading worship, leading communion, and doing the announcements as you do now. It might best be described as adding another service… but instead of a different time we’re choosing a different location. There will be one ANC staff, one ANC board of directors, one mission.

2) Where is this place? The location of our new gathering will be at the Dove Springs Recreation Center. The center is located 1.7 miles east of I-35 between William Cannon and Stassney. This is only a few miles away from our current location. For nearly half of you the new location is either CLOSER to where you currently live or EQUAL driving time from where you live.

3) What about the current ANC gathering? Our current location will stay the same. Same location. Same experience. It will now be called ANC South Austin. While we hope to go to one service at each location in May (at least through the summer), this is important for you to know. Each location will be equally valued, staffed, and led.

4) If I attend the gathering at this location, am I leaving ANC? No. In fact, this is what we believe to be the answer to staying (while going). While we need many of you to prayerfully consider attending ANC Dove Springs, attendance on Sunday will take very little sacrifice or change (it’s serving there that will take sacrifice). Some of you are already excited. For many, it simply makes sense. For others, you may desire to attend there for a season to help us make the transition. Some of you will serve there with your Restore Groups. Some will move there (believe it or not). But don’t panic, you’ll have plenty of time to both experience what’s happening there and come to a decision as to how God is leading you.

5) What are our next steps? We want to make sure that the community of Dove Springs understands that we are here in full support of them and their community. We also want everyone at ANC to know, see and experience the community first hand. With this in mind, we are planning a handful of things we hope will accomplish these objectives:

  • We will serve with them: As a church we are partnering with both the Dove Springs Recreation Center and the River City Youth Foundation for their Community gatherings during the Easter season (For those of you not already committed elsewhere). These are being held the two Saturdays prior to Easter. Last year, with a simple egg hunt, they served over 1300 children from the community (More details to come on this).
  • They will serve with us: On Easter Sunday, those from The Well will be joining us for our Annual Downtown Grillout and communion service with the homeless. It’s a perfect time for them to see who we are on such an important day (our 4th Anniversary by the way).
  • We will worship together: The TWO Sundays following Easter we are closing the doors (Temporarily) at our South Austin location and will all worship together as one body in the Gym at Dove Springs Rec Center. This will be an amazing time together and the first chance we’ve had to worship together since we moved to multiple services. We are praying God moves as we come together in unity IN and FOR the community. We pray He opens our hearts and minds for how we are to respond personally.
  • We will serve together: The following Sunday will be our regularly scheduled Serve Austin Sunday. As a part of our previous plans to expand SAS to Restore Weekend (Including both Saturday and Sunday projects) we will have additional projects serving the Dove Springs area. Some of you will serve there. Many will not. But it will be an intentional place of engagement from now on.
  • We will start our new “normal: The first Sunday in May, following Restore Weekend, will be our first regular worship gatherings at both locations. Time and details TBA.

6) Are we going to do this again? Yes. In fact, Our hope, is that as our church continues to grow, that we continue to move closer to where our people are as we continue to move closer to and into areas of great need. We hope ANC always has a culture that celebrates the opportunity to expand our ministry and bring hope to new areas. Imagine if there was a mid-sized ANC gathering of people committed to gospel community and mission not only in south and east Austin, but also in central and north Austin, in the Buda and Kyle areas, and maybe even San Marcos. Not only would we be able to maintain what we value about how we gather at ANC, but we’d be able to do so as a people committed to making disciples, “learning to do right”, loving mercy, seeking justice, and who value authentic faith community that understands and seeks to “speak the language” of their neighbors (understanding culture and context).

While we know that’s a lot to absorb, we ask you to simply pray for God’s will to be done as we put one foot in front of the other. Pray for His Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven. And pray that God would lead each of us on how we should personally respond.

If you are involved in children, youth, or other ministries at ANC… expect your leader to contact you shortly with details on how we are proceeding. If you are currently serving regularly outside of ANC, keep going! We are thankful for what you are doing and are certainly not asking you to abandon your post for something new. But what we are asking is that we all worship together there for a couple weeks and a portion of us begin to foster these new relationships through serving the existing partnerships in the area.

There are so many more details. But for now, thank you. You’ve always been the church we dreamed of. And we know God is about to do something even more amazing in and through all of us.

See you Sunday,

Brandon

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About Brandon Hatmaker

Church Planter, Missional Strategist, Non-Profit Collaborator, and Author of "Barefoot Church: Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture". View all posts by Brandon Hatmaker

12 responses to “Big News for Austin New Church

  • Rex Bullock

    Brandon, I love this plan. It is thrilling to see what you’re doing. We will pray for success in Christ. Blessings!

  • scott

    Brandon, I am a Methodist pastor feeling led by God to build a community like this in the area I am serving. It is difficult being immersed “in the system” but I feel God calling me first to write about a “new” type of Christian community much like what is described here. May I reference this as part of my plan writing? Would it be okay for me to visit you all and see what is going on? Who would I contact to explore this ministry community further and how can I support your efforts there?

    • Brandon Hatmaker

      Scott. Are you writing it as a “plan” for something you’re going to do or writing about how you feel or think it should look? Guess I’m just curious about the significance of writing about it before you do it. Sometimes a hard thing to do.

      • scott

        Brandon, I am digging in the Word and journaling about it. Right now I am in transition, as a chef turned pastor who learned during flood recovery about degrees of poverty and the urgent need to transform lives holistically. I want to be a minister employing people, teaching skills to help them escape hunger, poverty and homelessness. So the writing about it is to explain to potential supporters, but I need to do it. I want to and trying to partner with churches and businesses to work it out. My denominational polity needs a paper trail, I can see where God is calling in my mind, hear it in my soul. Church in the world, the Acts church. Church as verb, not theological construct. Does that make sense? Let me put it this way: if I never preach again, if I never travel on a mission trip again, if I can win hurting poor people to the full life Christ promises by helping them out of poverty, my life is complete. But my denomination needs a plan, in writing, approved, and it may mean I don’t “fit” in the defined parameters anymore. Which doesn’t scare me. Your mission, purpose and movement seem to get that and I’d love to visit and see what you are doing.

    • Brandon Hatmaker

      Sounds like quite the adventure Scott. Thanks for your transparency. Let me start by asking what you know about me, my wife, and our ministry. Have you read Barefoot Church or any others? Honestly, I think a lot of what you’re looking for I’ve outlined pretty clearly in BFC and you might find it helpful (actually it’s why I wrote it). My hope was for it to encourage, empower, give permission, and add some clarity to those along the same path. Let me know. BH

      • lehautegryphon

        Honestly, I haven’t read Barefoot Church. If it’s a book I will get it. There is another one apparently about the church like an amoeba. I don’t know much about you or your ministry, but it seems like you were involved with a workshop I attended because the name caught me. I was at Dare to Share and was talking to someone about Missio but mostly God has just moved in me, the Spirit seems to be moving a lot of us to a new vision of church in a sense. I have always had a passion for the poor, since as a chef I routinely had hungry people going through the dumpsters. I got in trouble for making them a hot sandwich at times. But actually what got this started was the flood recovery in Oakville, IA, our effort to provide affordable housing in the aftermath for families that had been living in poverty for generations. We got one woman back into her house and it was better than she ever had. She died a few weeks later, thrilled like never before. I just became aware that our system means well, but it takes humanizing, personal relationships to really help people break the cycle of poverty. As a pastor, I came to see that churches are not prepared for that kind of “ontological” body of Christ, an amoebic system…I will have to read that Barefoot Church, I caught this blog for a reason, boy does it resonate. Oh what brought me to ask if I could come see what you are doing is the Austin 10/20 race April 15. I was going to be in the area possibly. This is exciting to read and I want to share it with folks. One friend just finished his DMin on church renewal and new plants, we do a lot of talking, but I am an action person, he is a writer, lol. Well enough for now, I need to settle in for a long day tomorrow. Blessings, Scott

    • Brandon Hatmaker

      Love to visit Scott. But I really think it would be helpful for you to understand our context as well as story by reading the book first. Then we have a basis for our conversation and visit. I think it would really help you cover some ground instead of us starting at ground zero.

  • Marlene Thomas

    God bless you and your team, Brandon. Thank you for modeling Christlike service. I’m excited for ANC’s new opportunity to serve.

  • Brandon Hatmaker

    Thanks Marlene! Always an adventure. We’re just thankful for open doors. BH

  • Ashley

    This will be amazing, no doubt. I’ve seen and am still seeing something similar play out here in our multiple-site church. We’ve just launched a campus in an area much like you described here, after first opening a community center and medical clinic. A man in the church with a heart for prisoners has launched a “campus” at a prison, where they watch the Sunday message and have worship – and there is potential for that to spread throughout the state. It’s beautiful to see the church break out of the box and do what she is supposed to do. Praying for y’all!!

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