Following a Movement of Faith
In 1985, God gave 17 people in Austin, Texas a dream to start a major movement of faith in their community. Already committed followers of Christ involved in a local church, the group sensed God’s call to begin a new church that used the best of both traditional and innovative approaches to ministry and outreach. Their goal was to create a Bible-based church that was free from denominational limitations, but responsible to work in conjunction with and seek input from a local association of like-minded churches. From the beginning, their priority was people – not programs.
A Growing Church Family
On January 5, 1986, they kicked off their vision when 75 people came together for the first worship service of Hill Country Bible Church at a local elementary school. By 1988, the church needed a more permanent home for ministry, as well as more space. The staff and congregation moved into a rental space across the street, earning the name, “The Church Behind the Dairy Queen.”
In that same year, we began a search for a new pastor that would cultivate the young and growing church. God led us to Tim Hawks, and in 1989, he answered the call to take on the Lead Pastor role at HCBC. Tim brought visionary leadership skills and a passion to see the local church accomplish great things for God’s Kingdom.
Discovering Our Purpose and Philosophy
After Tim’s arrival, he and the leadership developed our current purpose statement:
Hill Country Bible Church is a family of believers committed to reaching people with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ.
In conjunction with our purpose statement, the leadership also established this simple core philosophy of ministry:
1. Who are you?
2. Where are you spiritually?
3. How can I help you take the next step?
This philosophy recognizes that each person, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey, has a next step to take and often needs help taking it. It continues to guide our approach to ministry so that we stay focused on people – not programs.
Putting Down Roots
By the early 1990s, we needed more space, and we wanted to set firm roots within our community. Just across the street, two properties totaling 30 acres became available. God provided us with this land at a remarkably low price, just before the area experienced a huge surge in property values.
Over the next 3 ½ years, the HCBC family pledged and raised more than $950,000 for the land purchase and construction of our first Worship Center (Building B). We were eventually able to purchase the land in cash, having received more than 105% of the pledges. Throughout the following decade, we continued to grow and develop our land and facilities, building each of the three buildings we have now. Because of God’s faithfulness and the graceful giving of our church family, we are debt free. Now, we have the opportunity to invest more in people.
Growing the Church in Austin
As we established our own church, we began to feel called to bring church to a larger population. We created the Association of Hill Country Churches in 1992. Our goal was to offer the thousands of people in our city with an opportunity to be part of a family of faith and have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Through the Association, our objective was to plant 10 churches in the Austin area within 20 years. With the development of our Church Plant Training Center in 2004 and the hiring of a Church Plant Director, we have planted 26 churches to date.
A Life-Changing Vision
By 2003, the leadership of HCBC began to feel their hearts pulled more toward a specific vision, one that would take the church body’s united commitment to accomplish. As we partnered with missionaries and discussed the enormity of their vision, we realized that we didn’t have a similar vision or passion for the place God had planted us. The elders began to see what Jesus said in Acts 1:8 in a new light:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Is such a sweeping vision achievable? We believe it is – and in our lifetime. If even one in 10 people in Greater Austin have a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and are part of a local church body, it is reasonable that each of those people can reach 10 others with the gospel. With strategic developments like the Association of Hill Country Churches and our Church Plant Training center, we are able to expand the influence for Christ.
Moving Forward with Purpose
Today, God is still extending His faithfulness, favor, and grace. As we continue to grow, He continues to provide us with opportunities to reach every man, woman, and child with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ.
Along with our church plants, we are focused on developing new church campuses. We are currently one church in multiple locations (Lakeline, Steiner Ranch, and Brushy Creek), with plans to launch a fourth campus in Leander in 2017.
We have partnered with churches all over the city to unite the people of Greater Austin. Through Explore God in 2013, 377 churches committed to welcoming believers and non-believers alike into open and honest spiritual conversations. In 2016, over 300 churches participated in Love Where You Live, a citywide movement to bring back the art of neighboring in our community. Thousands of people participated, and the initiative was met with a widespread positive response.
One Mission is one of our biggest focuses – an accelerated initiative to reach every man, woman, and child with the gospel across our church, city, nation, and world. Our church body has generously given their time, talent, and treasure toward One Mission with the purpose of reaching others with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God has given Hill Country Bible Church a rich and vibrant history, filled with repeated instances of His favor and faithfulness. As a body of believers, we consider ourselves blessed to follow the vision He laid before us over 30 years ago, and we eagerly look forward to continuing to fulfill that mission. The story, growth, and impact of HCBC is all because of Him.