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Decoding Our Church's ZIP Code
First, to faithfully fulfill our mission we must increase our outreach to first-half adults. Now, don't get the impression that first-half adults are our only target group! That's "Either-Or Thinking." You may remember I did a series on the follies of "Either-Or Thinking" in Winning Ways back in 2005. (Read the first installment in the series here.)
"Either-Or Thinking" would say, "Well, if he's talking about first-half adults, that must mean he doesn't have second-half adults in mind." Let's avoid Either-Or Thinking.
Still, first-half adults can't be ignored if Hillcrest is going to be a beachhead for God's kingdom in northwest Austin. The ZIP codes immediately surrounding the church are chock-full of adults in this age-range. Forty-two percent of the population in 78759 was born between 1961 and 1981, while 20% was born between 1943 and 1960, and 6% was born in 1942 or earlier.
Second, to faithfully fulfill our mission we must increase our outreach to families. Again, this does not mean we ignore seniors, empty-nesters (like me), and singles without kids. "Either-Or Thinking" will get you in terrible trouble. But since our church facility shares a property line with Anderson High School, we have to pray for ways to reach the families who send their sons and daughters to Anderson and the schools that feed Anderson. Two thousand students attend, with another 1200 in Murchison Middle School. Four elementary schools feed Murchison and Anderson: Hill, Summit, Davis, and Doss. Hill, a block away from us, has 750 students. Many of their parents pass right by our facility on the way to school. Nineteen percent of the parents in our ZIP code are single parents, by the way.
Remember these school names in your prayers -- even if you don't live in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding the church, and even if you don't have kids at home. Ask God to help your church impact the families who send their kids to these schools.
Third, to faithfully fulfill our mission we must improve the quality of our facilities and programming. In the neighborhoods surrounding our church, 63% are college graduates; the average household income is $87,000; and home values stand at about $350K on average (I wrote about this here). In light of this, the culture we're called to reach expects a certain level of quality in the programs we offer and in the facilities we invite them into. Improving our campus isn't "spending money on ourselves." Instead, it's one way we fulfill the mission God has charged us with.
Fourth, to faithfully fulfill our mission we must welcome neighborhood newcomers. Did you know that 60 percent of the population in 78759 moved here in the last 5 years? Fully 70 percent of those in the 78758 area have come since 2003. And in 78757 it's 53 percent, in 78727 it's 60 percent and in 78731 it's 54 percent. People are much more open to hearing from a church when they're new to an area. They're looking for friends, they're looking for activities for their kids, and they haven't settled into a Sunday morning routine. I think that's one reason our Connection Campaign has been so successful these last two years. We have to keep looking for ways to welcome newcomers to the church's neighborhood.
As I said at the start, I'm pleased to see how well we're doing in these four areas. But I pray that God will set within us a passion to do even better!
LeaderLines is a weekly "e-briefing" providing valuable information and inspiration to those who serve at Hillcrest Baptist Church.