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The New York Myth of Austin



The New York myth of Austin remains alive and well:

The prospect of visiting Austin for the first time was an added allurement to me. From what I had heard of the place, I pictured it as a wondrous bastion of avant-garde culture and bohemian living in an otherwise medievally backward state. It even seemed to be theologically liberal.

Jim Holt, in my current read, Why Does the World Exist? He was describing his planned trip from NYC to Austin to interview Steven Weinberg, an acclaimed physicist at UT-Austin.

“When have you ever lost a member because your church was failing to effectively reach the lost?”


Church members are very forbearing and forgiving regarding the neglect of the lost, while extremely impatient and unforgiving regarding the neglect of the righteous.

Think of a continuum on which the left end represents an extremely effective ‘home’ function of a church, and the right end represents an extremely effective ‘mission’ function. After journaling these thoughts, I decided to evaluate the church I pastor in light of this continuum. Believing a healthy and balanced church would find its X placed in the center, I had to honestly admit that our X was placed well left of center — being far more effective as a home to God’s people than as a mission to the unchurched.

Through the years, we have had numerous people leave our church feeling that their needs as believers had not been met, and frankly, many of them had legitimate complaints. Yet what grieves me the most is that never during those years has anyone so much as complained about our ineffectiveness as a mission. Many have left for personal reasons; none have departed because we failed to care for the lost. When have you ever lost a member because your church was failing to effectively reach the lost?

Randy Pope, The Prevailing Church (Chicago, 2003), page 33. (HT: Ray Ortlund)

About Tom

ANCHOR COURSE LOGO Tom Goodman is a graduate of Baylor University and Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, and he holds a doctorate from New Orleans Seminary. He has served as pastor in Louisiana, north Texas, and overseas in Grand Cayman before becoming the pastor of Hillcrest Church in Austin, Texas. Diane and Tom have been married since their days at Baylor University, and they have two sons, Michael and Stephen. Tom enjoys scuba diving, watching the latest Netflix DVD with Diane, and chasing mis-hit golf balls.