Winning Ways - from Hillcrest Baptist Church, Austin, Texas  Contact Tom Goodman, Pastor
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"No More Bowling Alone"
by Tom Goodman
January 10, 2007

Robert Putnam regrets that more and more Americans are bowling alone.  At Hillcrest, you can do your part to reverse that trend.

Putnam is a Harvard political scientist who wrote a much-discussed book called Bowling Alone (14-page summary here).  He points out that by just about every conceivable measure we are less inclined to socialize than Americans were in the past.  Colorfully, he points to bowling as his key image:

The most whimsical yet discomfiting bit of evidence of social disengagement in contemporary America that I have discovered is this: more Americans are bowling today than ever before, but bowling in organized leagues has plummeted in the last decade or so.   Between 1980 and 1993 the total number of bowlers in America increased by 10 percent, while league bowling decreased by 40 percent.

Of course, his point isn’t about bowling—it’s about spending time with others.  He points to numerous benefits we’re missing because of our failure to interact with others.  Take health, for example.  “As a rough rule of thumb,” Putnam tells us, “if you belong to no groups but decide to join one, you cut your risk of dying over the next year in half.”

Putnam doesn’t want people “bowling alone,” and at Hillcrest, neither do we.  One way you can help build friendships is through “BreadBreakers.”  This is a short-term supper club to help you get to know others who attend Hillcrest.  When you sign up for the club, you will be put in a group with six other people.  If a couple who is married or engaged signs up together, they will be put in the same group.  Once a month, two people in the supper club will be responsible for hosting the group.  The supper club will run from February to April.  Childcare will be determined by the group.  I’m grateful to Amy Goodwin and her team for helping us organize BreadBreakers.

You only have a couple of weeks left to sign up for BreadBreakers, so turn in your commitment form in this week’s service or contact the church office (click here).  Just sign up as an individual or as a couple and let Amy’s team form the supper clubs.

Oh, by the way: although “bowling alone” is just a metaphor, if you want your supper club to actually go “bowling together,” I know a central-Austin joint where you can get some great enchiladas before you get your lane!  Just ask me!


Important Notes…

Phillip Kelley to Speak.  This Sunday, January 14, Phillip Kelley will speak in both morning services.  Phillip is the leader of Metro Austin.  Metro Austin is a non-denominational, multi-church, citywide weekly Bible study and worship experience for 18-35 year olds.  Learn more here.

“They Knew How to Pray.”  New sermon series at our midweek service.  We meet each Wednesday from 6:30-7:20 pm in the auditorium.  Read this testimony from the first week of the new study.

New “Hillcrest Institute” Classes!  Click here to learn about our new semester of the Hillcrest Institute.  You can register early online!

New Precept Class.  If you can’t make Paul Smith’s Precept class on Sunday nights, he’s repeating it on Wednesdays at 6:30 pm.  Contact Herb for more information.

Interested in Membership?  Spread the word about our next Discover Hillcrest class.  It will be held Sunday, January 21, right after the morning service.  LUNCH IS PROVIDED!  The class is for those who want to become members, and for those who just want to learn more about Hillcrest.  While I teach the adult class, BJ teaches "Discover Hillcrest Kids" for children ages 8-12, and Jim teaches "Discover Hillcrest Youth" for students in grades 6-12.  Childcare is provided for children under the age of 8.  Pre-registration is encouraged but not required.  You can register by contacting our Ministry Assistant, Jami, at

Links to Your World

Attention College Students!  If you were born after 1982 or if you owned an iPod before you had your own checking account, I have an essay contest for you to enter!  If you could tell church pastors about one spiritual challenge facing your generation today, what would you say to them?  How would you tell them to reach your generation?  Outreach magazine and Kyros Entertainment have teamed up to give U.S. college students the opportunity to talk to pastors, be published in a national magazine and earn $500 for their winning essay.  Find out more here.  If you enter, let me know!

CiS (“Christians in Science”) has a video of a public lecture given 9 November 2006 by Alister McGrath on the topic of Dawkins' God.  Click here to see it.

Albert Mohler makes an important distinction in his article, “A Nation of Christians, Not a Christian Nation.”  See if you agree.

Interested in keeping up with the missionaries affiliated with our church?  Check out the webpages from Jason Torres and Paul/Martha Buford.

Find here the book summary for Ron Luce’s talked-about book, “Battle Cry for a Generation: The Fight to Save America’s Youth.”

I liked “What is a ‘Good Christian Movie’ Anyway?” written for Christianity Today by David O. Taylor from Austin’s Hope Chapel.  Links to Parts 2, 3, and 4 are on this same page.

FirstLook is a weekly e-mail service of the Baptist Standard, the newspaper for Texas Baptists.  For a free subscription to FirstLook, visit the sign-up page here.

The Austin American Statesman is looking for your faith stories.  The "Your Words" features, which will alternate with Eileen Flynn's columns, are 700-word stories contributed by our readers and area clerics.  Send yours to

You’ll find other news and opinions at my online journal, “Get Anchored,” including a video asking “Is There More to Life Than This?” and a challenge to dismount any “dead horse” you may be riding.  To keep up with the journal, sign up for e-mail updates or assign the feed to your news reader.

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