Acts 1:8 says we are to receive power from the Holy Spirit to be witnesses, both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria…all the way to the remotest part of the earth. What if a church believed its mission was more than becoming bigger and better every year? What if a church believed its vision should encompass a responsibility for every single person in its city, taking complete responsibility for the lostness of the city. And what if a church took the high priestly prayer of Jesus found in John 17 seriously, “that the church (even in a city) would be one.” That church would know it could never see Acts 1:8 become a reality without a serious commitment to planting churches…that plant churches…that plant churches.
It all started in the early ‘90’s when I found himself sitting in Mexico City with four lay pastors who had a congregation of about 80 who met in a garage. They asked me a question that changed the trajectory of my church: “How do we reach our city with the gospel?” I thought there must be something lost in translation. Surely four laymen who had a relatively insignificant ministry would not be asking how to reach 17 million souls in the fifth largest city in the world. But they were.
I'd been a church planter and my current ministry at Hill Country Bible Church (HCBC) was a thriving, fast-growing church on the growing edge of the city. But on the trip home, I came to a profound conclusion: that every mission agency in the world is mapping cities, and strategizing to reach entire populations, but the church in America generally does not. “If we were working for a mission agency, we’d be fired,” I concluded. And that was the day that the elders of HCBC began to pray about a saturation evangelism strategy involving a serious commitment to church planting in Austin. Our first strategic commitment was to plant ten churches in twenty years. The first plant was north of them in Georgetown in 1996; the second was east of them in Pflugerville, the third in Southwest Austin, and the fourth at the city’s center, near the University of Texas.
“If we were working for a mission agency, we’d be fired,”
It took nine years for HCBC to plant four churches; perhaps we were on schedule to reach our target, but we came to the conclusion that if the entire city was our responsibility, we needed to accelerate our efforts and re-assess our strategy. It only took another six years, and we had planted twenty-five, and had launched a strong multi-site campus. As of September 2014, HCBC currently has 14 Church Plants, 7 grandchildren plants and 3 great-grandchildren; and we are “pregnant” with two more! Only 4 of our total of 28 churches planted so far have merged or closed. In addition, we now have two multisite campuses.
This is an exciting development because it indicates exponential growth as a possibility. Someone has said, “You don’t have a movement until you have a fourth generation.” Hill Country can now boast of planting a church…that has planted a church…that has planted a church. I often says, “We are not just trying to plant a good church; we are trying to plant a church planting church that’s part of a movement.” Movement makers are doing more than building a doctrinally solid local church; movement makers see our mandate as reaching the world for Christ, and that would include taking responsibility for our cities through planting strategically located, contextually sensitive, gospel centered churches that would saturate our cities with the gospel.
Hill Country Bible Church - Launched 1986
HCBC Georgetown - Launched 1996
HCBC Pflugerville - Launched 2000
HCBC Southwest - Launched 2002
HCBC Central - Launched 2005
HCBC Leander - Launched 2007
Hutto Bible Church - Launched 2007
Cityview Bible Church - Launched 2007
Crossroads Community - Launched 2007
Two Rivers Bible Church - Launched 2008
Lakeshores Church - Launched 2008
The City Community (clsd) - Launched 2008
Origins Church - merged 2008
Northpoint Church - Launched 2009
HCBC San Saba - Launched 009
North Village - Launched 2009
Summit Community (clsd) - Launched 2009
HCBC Dripping Springs - Launched 2009
Wells Branch Community - Launched 2009
Iglesia Communitaria - Launched 2010
HCBC Kyle (clsd) - Launched 2011
The Grove Church - Launched 2011
99.1 Church - Launched 2011
The Well Community - Launched 2012
Point Community - Launched 2012
Midtown Church - Launched 2013
River Rock Church - Launched 2013
The Grove Hill Country - Launched 2014
Redemption City - Launched 2014
“We are not just trying to plant a good church; we are trying to plant a church planting church that’s part of a movement.”
Austin is a Blue City in a Red State, and is less than 10% evangelical. Additionally more than 100 people a day are pouring into our city. There is a desperate need for a movement of God that would do three things: Make Disciples, Plant Churches and Partner in the city with likeminded people who love their city and want to see it transformed by the Gospel. We have a biblical imperative to be a representative of Jesus Christ in the places where we live, work and play. If we don’t do it, who will?
Called as a Lead Pastor by Hill Country Bible Church Austin in 1989, Tim Hawks’ love for God’s word has helped thousands of people call Hill Country Bible Church their church home. Tim Hawks is a 1981 BBC graduate and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Christ Together and provides leadership to likeminded pastors who long to see the gospel shared with every man, woman and child across the country.