Category Archives: Networking

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,



Why I’m attending Verge 2012

Recently I was asked by the Editor of the ABBA Connect and the Austin Bridge Builders Alliance to answer a few questions about Verge Conference. While at first it seemed like just another task to get done during a busy week, in answering them I was reminded how significant an event I really believe Verge to be. That said, I thought I’d share my thoughts here as well:

ABBA: What is Verge and how will it impact Austin?

Brandon: Verge is a Missional Community Conference. What does that mean? It means that as Church leaders we believe the greatest way to impact a city or community is through empowering, equipping, and releasing, missionary people with a heart for the Gospel back into their context. It means that we believe in making disciples marked by lives who are radically changed by the gospel, who literally become Good News wherever they’ve been sent (home, work & play) and where they are being sent (across the tracks, rivers, and highways).

I think the impact of Verge can be vast if we are willing to respond. There’s a huge amount of momentum behind the heart of Verge… but it comes with a radical shift in thinking… too often we settle with the heart of the idea instead of strategically considering how it could really play out in a city of over a million people. The questions remain: Are we willing to listen? Are we willing to use our influence, relationships, and resources for the greater good? Are we wiling to lay down our plan for His plan?

ABBA: Why should we attend?

Brandon: Leaders at Verge are going to put words to the thoughts people are having.  They are going to bring experiences, stories, connect it with Gospel, and challenge us to make it real in our context. As church leaders a better question is, “Why wouldn’t we attend?”

ABBA: How will Verge help churches connect with each other and our community?

Brandon: The greatest way to connect churches and community is through a unified mission. Jesus taught that when we focus on Kingdom, that HE would build His church. That doesn’t mean our individual churches… that means THE Church in Austin will be built up. What each of us pray for in Austin cannot happen through one expression of the local church, so the bottom line is not just connecting, but praying for a movement in our city. I think Verge will lay a foundation that each of us can build upon.

ABBA: Why are YOU passionate about this event?

Brandon: Two reasons: (1) I’m always excited about an opportunity to gather with like-minded thinkers and leaders with an opportunity to learn. This conference is filled with practitioners, not just theorists, so we’ll also come away with some strategy. And, (2) at the last Verge Conference… the Spirit simply showed up. Some would argue the Spirit literally fell on the room at one point. I don’t know about you… but I think if we need more of anything, it’s the Holy Spirit. I want to be a part of something where God’s movement is obvious, His leading is convincing, and his presence is undeniable.

Leadership is Dead

Here’s the most insightful leadership truth I’ve heard in a long time:

“In some people leadership is more than dead, it is non-existent. You see, those who lead for their personal status, wealth or ego have no true influence in the lives of others. They may have authority, but people are not following them with loyalty or respect. Leadership is dead in these types of people.”

It was said by Jeremie Kubicek, in an online interview with Tony Morgan. Jeremie is author of “Leadership is Dead: How Influence is Reviving It” and CEO of GiANT IMPACT, a leadership development organization who owns Catalyst and puts on the Chick-fil-A Leadercast event. In other words, they’ve got a pretty strong track record.

Here’s another good one:

“Leadership is power. You can choose to empower or overpower others. An empowering leader is a liberator who wants the best for other people. An overpowering leader is a dominator who wants people to do things for the leaders interest.”

I’ve known Jeremie since college. He’s always been someone I’ve admired, respected, and looked up to. Not as the typical CEO type guy, but I remember Jeremie as the solid, genuine, caring guy whose faith was obvious. Jeremie is a guy who lives what he writes.

With endorsements from people like Seth Godin, Matthew Kelly, and Scott Klososky, obviously his “grown up” peers agree.

If you’re a church leader, please read this book.

Human Trafficking and U.S. Politics

Human Trafficking is a terrible reality. The statistics are so profound that we can easily move from ignorance to paralysis. While the most common steps might be to increase awareness, train leaders, or offer relief to rescued victims, some of the most productive and long term impact may be legislative. As President Obama said, “From every corner of our nation to every part of the globe, we must stand firm in defense of freedom and bear witness for those exploited by modern slavery.”

So how can we best do that? The International Justice Mission, one of the worlds leading abolitionist organizations, offers the following suggestions, urging our President to strengthen our government’s anti-slavery policies, institutions and diplomatic tools:

  1. Provide funding and full-time staff to the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) to allow it to scale up and replicate projects that have successfully reduced the prevalence of labor or sex trafficking abroad.
  2. Increase funding for victim relief and perpetrator accountability, and provide tangible support for police, prosecutors, and courts to deter this crime and secure relief for victims.
  3. Urge Congress to include additional resources for the TIP Office when the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act is considered in 2011.
  4. Insist that TIP Office diplomacy is amplified throughout the State Department and U.S. Embassies, and the concerns reflected in the annual TIP Report are raised at the highest levels.
  5. Provide adequate funding in budget not only for fighting slavery abroad but also for confronting the crime at home. Increased resources to support survivors of labor or sex trafficking as well as for police, prosecutors and investigators, should be included in forthcoming budget.
  6. Enforce current law that prohibits the importation of slave or child-made goods into the U.S.
  7. Strengthen the TIP Office by making its coordinator the equivalent of an Assistant Secretary of State.

To find out more about IJM’s Justice Campaigns click HERE.

Empowering Refugees Through Social Enterprise

Here’s a recent guest post from our Restore Austin blog by Leslie Beasley, one of the founders of “Open Arms”, a ministry that empowers Refugee Women here in Austin through social enterprise. I love this stuff.

“In January, 2010, I took a trip to Uganda. I focused much of my time visiting orphanages in the area, feeling inspired by the work done there. By chance (but really, is anything by chance?), I also spent time with a group of refugee women from the Acholi tribe. These women had been abused by rebel forces resulting in 80% of them being HIV positive. I marveled at the resilience of their spirits as we sang and danced together. Their dignity in the face of trials moved me deeply. I left them knowing I wanted to do something to help refugee women. But how could I do it from the States?

Upon returning to Austin, I was drawn to the rapidly growing yet largely invisible refugee population in my own community. I had completed a training program to help their families and began enrolling their children in school. As I got to know one refugee family in particular, their experience with fear and isolation convinced me the time to act was now and the place to help was Austin, Texas.

I set up a meeting with the director of Refugee Services of Texas and asked the question, “What is the biggest need for the refugees living in our community?” Her answer kick-started this social enterprise. She said that most of the refugees end up in jobs where they are overworked and underpaid and get caught in a cycle of dependency and despair. What they need, she explained, are sustainable jobs that provide a livable wage. So, I set out to start a business that would employ refugee women at a wage that would allow them to provide for their families……a company with a conscience!

I started asking some of my friends if they wanted to join the adventure of starting such a company and was pleased but not surprised at their positive responses. Lacey Strake was the first to say “yes”, which fit well with her heart and the fact we’d discussed doing something like this over 10 years ago. (We even referred to it as Open Arms in those long-ago conversations.) We were quickly joined by several other friends and seemingly overnight, we had a seven-woman team overflowing with passion and complementary talents. It was like watching the perfect puzzle pieces fall into place. Our team launched into the unique challenges of creating a business that offers a compelling product, pays a reasonable wage and matches the skills and experience of our refugee employees.

The product……..
As we wracked our brains about what to make and sell, we researched and spent time on product development for several ideas that ended up falling short. My husband, Robert, and I even got into a nightly ritual of “business brainstorming.” (I know…very romantic). One night, with our brains tired from going down too many rabbit trails, we asked the simple question: “What do people have a lot of…but don’t really need?” The answer came like a lightning bolt…T-SHIRTS! As our minds raced, we talked about how t-shirts and refugees share a similar story: created with hope, but often tossed aside. With Open Arms, refugees (and countless shirts) will get a new start, a new lease on life.

From the start, we determined to do business differently. What if our company offered enrichment opportunities where the employees could participate in brown bag lunches with experts on relevant subjects? What if they had the option to attend an ESL class during the workday? What if we offered a childcare co-op for our mothers so they could bring their children to work since childcare is often cost-prohibitive? What if we offered job-share opportunities for those who need to get home to be with their kids? What if we instituted an early literacy program for pre-school age children of our employees, giving them a solid start as they enter school? What if we invited the community to join us for lunch once a month to talk about poverty issues and ways to help break the cycle of poverty? What if…….

I’m convinced the passion and work ethic of our team (Alexia, Diane, Katherine, Lacey, Linda, and Trina…..not to mention the spouses who have been roped into countless hours of work on our behalf) and our growing network of friends and supporters will make Open Arms happen.

To find out more click HERE.

Really pumped about this stuff.

We have some great leaders at ANC. Matthew Hansen is no exception. Not only does he give as much time as anyone to “regular” pastoral responsibilities, he oversees the development of “Restore Austin” which is the umbrella organization for all things mission at ANC. Below is a recent post that is just a small reminder of why I’m “pumped” about what’s going on through ANC and restore Austin:

Missional Church: It all Comes Together

Posted on March 8, 2010 by Matthew Hansen |

Have you ever been in one of those situations where it seems impossible to just pick one service opportunity, yet you have to, due to time restraints?  I have.  In fact, it seems when one is committing to fight injustice, it is easy to be pulled in a hundred different noble directions, and end up wondering, “which one should I serve in!”… Read the Complete Story.

The Benefit of Local Partnership

Yesterday morning a neighbor and I drove down to the Hays County Sheriff’s “Brown Santa” warehouse. We were going to pick up presents to be delivered to families in our community who are in need. To our surprise, the only thing they had left was a trailer load of Christmas hams, and no one left to give them to.

So we took them.

It was awesome to know I could scroll quickly through my contact list to find cell phone numbers to guys like Alan Graham of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, Matthew Hansen who leads our Restore Austin efforts, David Avilla of SDG Austin in east Austin, as well as several other non-profits in our city making a difference. After making a couple calls and leaving a few messages (it was early), it took about 2 minutes to get a call back from David saying, “That’s perfect, we’re putting together Christmas Dinner packages today at noon for families in need at the Santa Rita projects right across the street”.

How cool. Several ANC Restore Communities (Community Groups) had already committed financially for the SDG Austin effort and I was proud to find out some were already planning on being there to help assemble and deliver the food.  All because of partnership.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:4-6

We can do so much more together than as individuals. Yesterday was a great reminder. For more info on ANC’s city partnership click HERE to go to the Restore Austin website.