‘The CHURCH’ in Action
Read how Austin,TX pastors are coming together to impact a city where 1/3 of the residents are churchless (but it used to be worse) AND how you can learn from their experience for your own city.
In John 17:20-21, Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.”
For more than 30 years, this has been the heart behind ABBA, Austin Bridge Builders Alliance. ABBA’s team is made up of former pastors, each with about 15-20 years of experience, tasked with thinking long-term strategically about the city of Austin from a Kingdom perspective.
“Which most pastors don’t have the luxury of doing, because they have another Sunday coming,” said ABBA’s Strategic Relations Director Jeff Johnson. “Every seven days, you have a thing to do. Everything about your life begins to revolve around that seven-day cycle.”
ABBA has partnered with pastors throughput Greater Austin to expand the work each church is doing to impact key areas in the city, from disaster relief to foster care to literacy to marketplace connections.
“You take the 7-day restraint off and you increase your congregation size,” Johnson said. “Instead of however many people are in your church, you look at all the believers in the whole city. What does God want to do over not the next seven days, but over the next generation.”
Johnson said a key to building unity began within the city was Pastors In Covenant, monthly small groups to help build “strong relational trust and shared identity.”
“It’s not about denomination. It’s not about church size. It’s not about ethnicity. I’m a pastor. You’re a pastor. Come and share your heart. Before we can work together, I have trust you and I have to see you and me on the same team. When I say ‘we’ I don’t just mean my congregation; I mean our congregations.”
“We look at it through a lens of one church in the city with many expressions
Out of these conversations the question arose, “What is God calling us to do in this city?” Over the years, Austin church have come together to create citywide initiatives, plan strategic bi-annual meetings, and pray corporately over the city.
“What we have found for any region to have long term success around unity, you generally have to have what we call ‘the parent’s heart.’ The heart of parent says 1. I am going to invest in you to my own detriment. 2. You authentically rejoice when your kids outpace you. That’s what you do as a parent. That is central to unity in a city.”
ABBA offers a number of resources to help church leaders come together no matter what city you. The Business Leadership Series, CEO/Pastors, and Emerging Leader Initiative. Learn more here.
ABBA has also partnered with national organizations for the first ever Bless Austin Pastors & Leaders Conference, a collaborative initiative to pray for every person in Greater Austin by name and share Jesus with them.
The conference has virtual and in-person ticket options and will feature world speakers including Dave Ferguson, Craig Groeschel, Mart Green, Marcos Witt, Brian Alarid, Greg Stier, Tim Hawks, John Burke, Clarence Hill, and more.