Settling In...

by: Kirk Gentzel - Director of High School Ministries

As I begin this post, I just want to thank all those at Lake Hills who have made our transition smooth and comfortable. Kerra and I are loving Austin!

Moving toward the New Year is always exciting, but since today is the last day of the year I find it appropriate to reflect on 2007. For Kerra and I, 2007 was quite an adventure.

August: We kicked of the school year ministering to students in Sherman, Texas.

September: We received a phone call from this guy named Alex Alexander from Lake Hills Church in Austin, Texas.

October: We interviewed for the High School Director position at Lake Hills.

November: I moved to Austin, Kerra stayed in Dallas and I began ministry at Lake Hills. She started the job hunt in Austin from Dallas.

December: God showed us of how faithful He is when Kerra got a job at Ridgeview Middle School in Round Rock.

As we move toward 2008, I’m reminded again and again of God’s consistent faithfulness and loving kindness toward us. Reflecting on the way He always provides makes me anticipate 2008 with genuine excitement and expectancy. In High School Ministry we endeavor alongside Lake Hills - to redefine High School Ministry for the city of Austin and beyond. We firmly believe that God wants to do just that in 2008, and I can only expect that He will be faithful to pull it off. We simply cannot wait to see what He will do this year. So please pray for the High School ministry as we seek to help students trust Jesus with their whole lives.


Following Jesus

by: Chris Larsen - Pastor of Spiritual Development

The last words of Jesus before He ascended into heaven were words of confidence to those who followed Him. Jesus told this emerging church that He has all authority in both heaven and earth, and with that confidence they were to go and make more followers. “Now that you see for certain that I’m in control of everything, tell others about me and show them what it really means to follow me” is a loose paraphrase of this challenge the Church has labeled “The Great Commission.”

At Lake Hills Church, we want to continue to remain on point with this Sovereign charge. As we look forward to 2008, the Spiritual Development team will be rolling out some brand new ministry opportunities that will help answer the question, “What does it really mean for me to follow Jesus?” The first new opportunity is a second level to our Membership class that will include understanding what a follower of Jesus believes, knows and does. We will also be unveiling a new weekday service opportunity with Mobile Loaves and Fishes where we can serve the needs of the poorest in Austin. We will also be offering more LHCi’s that will include Spiritual Disciplines, Defending your Faith, and How To Study The Scriptures On Your Own, among other things.

Keep watching the website and bulletin in the coming year for more details. The first Membership 201 class will be on January 13th during the 10:15 service. You can sign up at the Commit kiosk in the church foyer.

It’s going to be an exciting year! I can’t wait to see what God will do as we continue to redefine church for the city of Austin and beyond!



by: DeAnn Wilson - Director of Leadership Ministries

May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples.
(Genesis 28:3)

It’s been so exciting to be a part of what God is doing within and through Lake Hills Church. The response to our new community events has been overwhelming starting in November with our Baptism & Burgers Bash and most recently, our First Annual Christmas Tree Lighting event. Hundreds of people gathered as Santa made his appearance on the Hudson Bend fire truck. Almost 500 cookies were carefully & creatively decorated. Lines formed for kettle corn and train rides. Families volunteered to serve together by gently applying countless Christmas tattoos to tiny little hands! Needless to say, the church grounds were alive with joy, cheer and holiday happiness.

Doing life together outside of Sunday morning church and creating a scene like the one above is the heartbeat behind our community events. We’re so excited about our 2008 community event line-up, which will kick-off in February with a Chili Cook-off! Stay tuned to www.lhc.org for more info.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."
(Matthew 18:20)


Challenge of a Lifetime

by: Mike Valiton - Pastor of Finance & Operations

“Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have enough room for it.”
(Malachi 3:10b)

What a challenge God gives us when he speaks about gifts and tithes to the local church. Can you imagine being blessed so much that you don’t have room for all the blessing? Every family should have that problem! The Lake Hills Church family has been blessed this year and, in turn, passed those blessings on in the form of ministries and mission efforts throughout the community and world. I hope and pray that your family has been blessed this year.

As the year draws to an end, you may be working on your tax planning for 2007 and your gifts and tithes play a large part, as all gifts are tax deductible. Any gifts received by year end will be credited to your account and statements will be mailed to you by January 31st. And please remember, your gifts must be received by December 31 for them to qualify for 2007 deductions. People will be at the church to help you if you have any questions. May God bless you and your families now and forever.


Giving Hearts

by: Chad Zunker - Director of Men & Mission's Ministries

LHC Missions ended the year with a huge bang! I love to see the way God uses His people to reach out to those in need. Take a look at just a couple of the amazing ways our people served this December.

1) We had 25 “families-in-need” personally adopted by loving families (or life groups) in our church. We even had dads out browsing through Wal-marts and Targets buying specialty items for kids who would have otherwise not had presents this year. There were so many very touching stories of families sharing Christmas with their sponsored family.

2) The LHC community picked up over 600 Giving Tree gift tags for the children of the Austin Children’s Shelter and the Pan de Vida Orphanage in Mexico. It took a huge trailer to haul the gifts to each place. And over $5900 worth of gift cards were also purchased. We can’t tell you what an incredible difference this makes in the lives of these kids.

Thanks to all of you who participated in some way. You helped give somebody loved by God a very special Christmas this year.


Christmas Eve SERVEice

by: Sarah Watson - Director of Assimilation

What an awesome opportunity it was for the Lake Hills family to
gather and celebrate the birth of Christ. I hope you were able to join
us. As Director of Assimilation, I focus on helping our members get plugged into the volunteer ministries that make our church tick.

I was blown away by the sheer number of volunteers that came together in service and enabled our members, their families and countless others to experience An Austin Christmas Eve. Having a great plan is useless unless you have a great team of volunteers to implement it with precision. We had that team! Our members stepped up and made it happen. It truly took my breath away as I walked around and saw all of the individuals giving of their precious Christmas Eve time to be at church serving God. And… doing it with huge smiles on their faces! We all know the demands the holidays place on our schedules and we are so grateful to those of you who carved out time to serve.

Christmas is over yet the joy lives on. It makes me so proud to be a part of the LHC team and the amazingly dedicated body of believers. I cannot wait to see what God has in store for us in the New Year! I hope you will join us!


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas and Thank you to everyone who made this year's Austin Christmas Eve such an incredible celebration of Christ's birth. This was the 10th time we've celebrated Christmas, and beyond any question at all, it was the best, the most personal, God-honoring one yet.

As we unwind around our house, I just want to wish everyone an incredible Christmas day. It is such a gift to get to be your pastor, to enjoy this incredible adventure with you.

Good Silent Night.


Home for the Holidays, (Pt. 3)

Just got an email from a friend who read yesterday's post and affirmed the sense that God is up to something. My friend said that he had invited two people and their families to our Home for the Holidays Christmas Eve service. Both of his friends come from non-Christian faith traditions and they both said "Yes" to his invitation. On the spot. No hesitation.

That is the church being the church.

Remember, our Sunday schedule is unique this week:

No services Sunday morning.
Christmas Eve Services:
Sunday: 4, 6, & 8 p.m.
Monday (Christmas Eve): 4, 6, & 8 p.m.


Home for the Holidays (Pt. 2)

Sometimes you just get a gut feeling. You always hope, but sometimes there's just a God-given sense that He's poised to do something more than all we can ask or imagine. That is exactly the sense I have as we approach An Austin Christmas Eve this coming Sunday and Monday.

Just about everything is in place and ready to go. The band has a few more rehearsals to go. Hundreds of volunteers are locked and loaded (and there's still room for more ViP's: send an email to serve@lhc.org to step up). I'm putting the finishing touches on my message between now and Saturday. There is just a sense that God is going to do something really incredible through the LHC family.

So many of you took the CD sampler to use as an invitation piece that we know many, many of the people who come will be guests and visitors looking to make Christmas more than just ritual religion or compulsive consumerism. LHC is going to truly be Home for the Holidays to 1000s of people who are looking for a church home where they can connect with God and with other people.

Thank you so much for being that kind of church, for making the effort to extend the love of God to the people around you. It's a privilege to be your pastor and to share the ride with you.


Home for the Holidays (Pt. 1)

One week before Christmas and it feels like everyone has picked up their pace just a little. I love this time of year and all the expectation that is just in the air. As we prepare and work toward 6 Christmas Eve services, I know I can feel my nervous energy and anticipation building.

From the very first days of LHC, we've prayed and worked to be a safe place for people to discover the extravagant love of God. That is exactly what this year's "Home for the Holidays" Christmas Eve celebration is all about. We want as many people as possible to be comfortable and at-home in our church on the way to being at-home in a personal relationship with God.

In advance, thank you to the LHC family for stepping up to volunteer, serve, and invite people throughout the Christmas Eve celebrations. I am so overwhelmed and grateful to you for doing it and to God for letting me serve with you.

It's true that there are only six shopping days til Christmas. But, more significant than that, there are only 6 days left to invite someone you know to share in an Austin Christmas Eve and truly come Home for the Holidays.


One Week & Counting

How great to wake up this morning to cold and clear a week before Christmas.

Check out Eileen Flynn's article in today's Austin American Statesman. In
addition to being a friend of ours, she's a great writer who makes a great point about the coming of Christmas.

I'm looking forward to getting up and going to church in the cold tomorrow. Just hope it'll be that way for all SIX of our Christmas Eve services next week.

...which reminds me: If you haven't seen the welcome page at www.lhc.org lately, you should really go check it out. It's just a cool way to introduce people to who we are and what God's doing through LHC.


Leadership on Steroids

Fallout from yesterday's publication of Major League Baseball's The Mitchell Report runs deep and wide. Regardless of what players did or did not do, one issue provides the underpinnings for every single conversation/debate that will result from the report: RESPONSIBILITY.

Struggling to remain relevant and win back fans in the mid-90s, baseball leadership at every single level focused on one thing and one thing only--winning back fans they had forfeited by canceling the '94 World Series. As long as TV ratings and ballpark attendance climbed back--read: revenue--they literally did not care how or why. Consequently, people's lives, records, integrity of the game, and the public trust are severely damaged.

Here are two lessons:
1. Disengaged leadership--whether intentionally misleading or merely incompetent--always costs an organization in effectiveness and credibility. Commissioners and owners who feign ignorance and shock don't deserve the offices they hold. Union leaders who facilitate and aid illegal activity by hiding behind a defective collective bargaining agreement are laughable. How do these people look Hank Aaron in the eye and say, "Thanks for all you did for the game. Look at how we've stewarded what you gave to us"?
2. Players named in The Mitchell Report should be given an opportunity to refute those allegations fairly. AND, we should all use common sense in hearing those answers. If I ever get to the point that I'm using legal-ese and loopholes to "clear my name", then I've crossed an ethical line.
3. Baseball's problems mirror and augment larger issues of honesty, integrity, and leadership throughout our culture. They didn't create a culture of cheating, but neither have they gone out of their way to be a part of the solution.

Leadership, like integrity, always costs. But, it's a far easier toll to pay than the absence of either.