If I could teach the world to sing…
No, that’s not it.
If I could wish upon a star…
No, that’s not it, either.
OK, if I could save time in a bottle…
How about this one:
If I could persuade the whole world to believe…
That’s it. If I could persuade the whole world to believe in Jesus, that would be IT for me. That would make me so happy!
But, here’s the thing.
What I can do is this: I can tell you my own story of faith in Jesus Christ, and I can also point you to a place where you can observe and experience a room full of people at different stages of the same journey.
That place is church.
One big surprise in Austin has been that there are so many great churches here! That shouldn’t be a surprise at all, but when you live in the Texas panhandle, and what you know about Austin is centered around its “weirdness,” you wonder if there is a church where you can find a home. People hugged us tight when we said goodbye to Amarillo, and they repeatedly asked, “Do you think you can find a church?” It’s really kind of funny, looking back on that, but when you LOVE your church, it’s a legitimate concern.
It took about 15 months of visiting churches all over Austin before we found our spot at Riverbend Church, but, here’s the thing. Austin is full of great churches!
If you’ve thought about going to church, but have held back, here are my top five reasons why you might want to give it a shot.
- The people – they’re nice and they want you to be there.
- The message – it will challenge or encourage you.
- The standard – no one cares about your past or what you don’t know about the Bible.
- The music – it will soothe your wearied soul.
- The perspective – you will come away renewed.
Here’s a list of the churches we’ve visited in Austin, with my own small observation of their strong points.
Riverbend – outstanding music, gorgeous campus, very challenging messages, lots of small groups to connect with and a warm welcome.
Hill Country Bible Church – casual atmosphere, huge focus on ministering to the world, good music and good preaching.
Grace Community Church – good music, donuts and coffee, approachable staff, great messages.
Gateway Church – come-as-you-are culture, good music, good visitor welcome.
Celebration Church – high energy, lots of smiles and warmth, very warm visitor welcome and very approachable pastor.
Great Hills Baptist Church – sweet spirit of unity in the church, good music, more exhaustive verse-by-verse teaching than topical message.
Hyde Park Baptist Church – classic Baptist service, great music and messages, very strong Sunday School classes with connectivity and social functions.
St. David’s Episcopal Church – downtown location, liturgical, warm, welcoming, focus on community ministry.
The Church at Canyon Creek – smaller church with warm and loving community feel.
Northpoint Church – lots of young families, good message, lower connectivity than the other churches we visited.
Austin Stone – great (loud) music – lol – good messages, high energy and opportunities to get involved.
Austin Ridge – solid structure, large group, very good messages.
All of these churches have one thing in common – they focus on the love of God and the sacrifice made by Jesus to keep us ol’ sinners in relationship with Him. It’s the greatest story ever told, and it’s the heartbeat of each pastor we heard at every single church.
One Big Austin Surprise is one big reason we love it here so much!
Encouraging intentional adventure that seeks and finds our Savior, Jesus Christ,,