Tag Archives: justice

Serving Homeless Graduating Seniors

There are 35 homeless graduating seniors from area High Schools registered for a sponsorship program through Hays CISD. If sponsored, these students will get much needed assistance during the graduation season and additional help in transitioning to the next season of life. Half of those students have been sponsored. Austin New Church has committed to ‘adopt’ the remaining 17. Without sponsorship, many of these students would not get to enjoy the ‘little things’ that make graduation exciting and memorable. Your sponsorship will ensure each student receives: (1) Required inoculations for college, (2) senior pictures, (3) entrance to senior dinner and Prom, (4) a yearbook, (5) a gift card for clothing, and (6) a “Fresh Start Basket” including basic household and dorm needs.

ANC has committed to the remaining $4200 but we need your help. As a part of ANC or as a friend of ANC, we are asking for you personally, your Restore Group, your family, friends, or a group at work to consider sponsoring a student by donating $250 or helping sponsor a student by giving in $100 or $50 increments.

Click HERE to donate now.

This is yet another reminder to me of the great need that exists in every community. These are simple ways to help, but excellent opportunities to be good news. Good News to a homeless student or family. Good News to a school administrator, trying to help these kids in ways they can’t, often shouldering the burden alone, and Good News to all who hear what the church is about. Maybe you won’t partner with us. But I hope you’ll consider how you can serve the schools in your community.


Why I’m pumped about Exponential

I’m both excited and honored to be teaching at the Exponential Conference in Orlando, Florida (April 23-26) for a handful of reasons:

FIRST, I’m excited about the focus: Not only will it be one of the best opportunities for church planters, church planting churches, and pastors to be equipped and gain practical help in increasing their missional posture… but also that this year’s theme (“Sifted“) is focusing on our spiritual and emotional well-being as well. I was proud to be able to preview and endorse Zondervan’s newest release in the Exponential Series “Sifted: Pursuing Growth Through Trials, Challenges, and Disappointments” by Wayne Cordeiro (with contributions by Francis Chan & Larry Osborne).

SECOND, I’m excited to announce that “The Barefoot Church Primer: An 8-wk Guide to Serving Through Community” is now IN STOCK and we’ll have them available at Exponential. This was a resource based on my book ‘Barefoot Church’, and is written with the Missional/Incarnational Community in mind. It offers a step-by-step process to begin to discover and engage need in your community while building a biblical understanding of mercy and justice as they relate to a holistic understanding of the gospel. While we think it’s a great resource to help form new communities and for existing communities to begin focusing their attention outward, we also believe it to be a helpful Spiritual Development tool as you seek to “make disciples” through empowering a missional posture. (For a little preview: CLICK HERE)

THIRD, I’m super-pumped to be leading three sessions that I think will be incredibly helpful for those of you seeking to add to your missional/incarnational efforts (in the area of mercy & justice) while giving some fresh thoughts on some stuff you might want to consider (in the area of gospel & discipleship). Hope you can join me. Here’s some more info:

1. Launching Service based missional Communities: 10 steps to building community through engaging need. (Launching Missional Communities Track: Lab 1)

  • Most of us want Missional/Incarnational Communities that are truly focused on mission, but many of us don’t know where to start. Brandon will take you through ten steps that build biblical faith community (inward) through engaging the needs in a Community (outward).

2. Missional Saturation: 5 changes every church must make to gain & maintain missional momentum. (Nuts and Bolts Track – Lab 2)

  • “Missional Church” is a redundant label… at least it should be. At the very heart of biblical church lies a call to be a community on mission. Most of us agree. Many of us are trying. Yet too often we fail to make key structural changes that ensure lasting missional momentum. Join Brandon Hatmaker in an open discussion on 5 key areas of church structure that will undermine your leadership and kill your momentum if left unchecked.

3. Structuring to serve through Community: 8 critical steps to point small groups outward. (Creating Missional Centers Track – Lab 3)

  • Even a well-intentioned Missional Community can lose its focus and allow in-house needs to steal its time and attention. Join Brandon Hatmaker as he takes us through 8 critical steps to ensure your small group maintains its focus on making disciples committed to gospel centered community and mission.

The Church: Are we “Good News”?

I love that the word Gospel means Good News. While it’s too easy – even dangerous – to oversimplify the Gospel, it’s just as easy to over-complicate how we live it out in our daily lives. Especially as the Church. I’m convinced we need to spend more time asking, “is what we’re doing really good news” and if so, to whom is it good news? If we’d let the answer drive our agenda, we’d probably be a lot more effective in reaching and impacting our community.

We’ve noticed a pattern at ANC; whenever we serve those in need, people seem to take note. We first noticed it on Easter when we canceled our regular scheduled Easter services to organize a community wide food drive. We had hundreds of unchurched take part (on a Sunday morning) and two out of the three local network news stations featured our efforts as a part of their Easter evening newscast. The same thing happened the next year when we moved our Easter service downtown and outdoors, sharing worship and communion with the homeless of Austin. Two more news segments and a front-page newspaper article entitled “A New Kind of Easter for a New Kind of Church.”

I’m not writing this to brag about our news coverage. And although I’m proud of the path our church has taken, I’m not writing this to draw attention to ANC. I’m writing this because I hope we’ll take note of what others are taking note of.

About a year ago I was tweeting a few thoughts on the church being more socially concerned when I got a surprise tweet from a follower who lived in NYC: “I just wanted you to know that if I wasn’t a backslidden Jewish atheist, I’d want you as my pastor”. You couldn’t offer me a better compliment.

If you know me or my family at all, you know that last week I brought my 7 year-old adoptive son home from Ethiopia. With over a dozen families at ANC in the middle of the adoption process, it’s been a journey our entire church has been a part of. During a layover in the Detroit airport I got a call from Fox News asking if they could capture the story when we arrived. They wanted to do a live segment at 5 o’clock and a longer version at 9pm. They committed nearly four minutes to the segment that aired on both the newscasts, and within hours the web link to the video had been re-posted to over 700 Facebook pages. The reporter claimed on twitter that it was one of her favorite stories ever.

In a moment of curiosity I checked my Blog stats today. 8 out of the 10 most read posts over the last year where related to serving the poor. Not my leadership. Not my theological insight. It wasn’t even close. People are interested in mercy and justice. They are drawn to these things. Christians are seeking to learn how to be good news and our onlookers are hoping to see it played out.

A socially active church gaining media attention is no coincidence. It’s an indicator. In a world screaming out for the church to be the church, it makes sense. People are looking for some Good News, yet too often we’re no news at all.

Jesus told us to serve the least. Here’s what I know, when we do, “it works”. I’m not going to try and explain what “it works” means, because it works in so many ways. Give it a shot and see for yourself.


Missional Momentum

Over the last couple years I’ve had the opportunity to sit with a number of pastors seeking to increase the missional posture of their church. As expected, this has proven to be easier for some than others, and more of an art form than a science.

But among the many variables, we’re beginning to see a few common threads emerge among those seeming to gain “missional momentum”. Here are the top three practices we’ve observed:

1. Those pursuing the “and” of EXALTATION and INCARNATION.

As church leaders we often make the mistake of thinking what we do on Sunday and what we do throughout the week operate independent of one another. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the majority of our weekday ministries pick up where Sunday leaves off. Missional momentum seems to be directly impacted by how effectively we utilize our gatherings to give bible precedence, priority of vision, and permission for our people to live on mission throughout the week.

2. Those discovering new ways to ENGAGE the NEEDS of their community.

Missional flow draws attention to the natural process necessary to engage an “unreached” people group. It starts with (1) engaging culture, then (2) forming community (on mission), followed by (3) creating structure or congregation. At the very core of a biblically missional effort lies a demand to engage culture. We simply cannot engage culture without engaging the needs of culture. Churches gaining the most momentum seem to be those utilizing existing structures to meet the needs of their community – as much as – or even prior to their own.

3. Those recognizing what they CAN’T do and HELPING others who CAN.

Many church leaders today are starting from a good place: Reality. For some, the ship they are trying to turn makes the titanic look like a two man raft. In their wisdom and experience they are piloting groups rather than blowing up ministries and starting over. They are pioneering new strategies through existing structures. But they know it will take time… and they can’t do it all at once.

This is where church planting and partnering with existing ministries or non-profits comes to play. A surprising amount of missional momentum is being found by churches committed to help others plant churches or who are willing to partner with those already engaging the needs of culture in ways they’d find difficult to do themselves.


Why we Cancel Church on Easter (Part 2)

It was a beautiful day in downtown Austin. It’s amazing to be a part of a church and an Easter service where literally everyone who came… came to serve others. Here’s a glimpse at what the day looked like. Take the time to watch to the end so you can see the still shots (my favorite part).

It was an incredible moment to remember together that the one who was resurrected is also the one who resurrects. He resurrects lives, He resurrects marriages, and He resurrects hope. As a pastor, I gain incredible joy watching people get out of their skin to do something for someone in need. It’s almost as if you can see them changing right before your eyes. Today lives were changed. Hope was resurrected. And I believe Jesus was Glorified. As Christ followers we must believe and do our best to live the words of Jesus:

‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ – Matthew 25:35-40


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.