Cultivating gracious dialogue on Christ & culture

The Hill Country Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to renewing and equipping the Body of Christ to engage culture in changing times with the love and mind of Christ.
We’re breaking down barriers to fellowship and creating safe places for difficult conversations.

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New Podcast Episode - Interview With John Burke, Pastor of Gateway Church, Austin

Perfect apologetics and eloquently convincing arguments are not what will bring people into God's Kingdom, especially not in today's Post-Christian culture. It's not about the message we present or the reasons we give; it's about our attitude towards people that woos them. "People can intuitively sense how we feel about them; and that actually  makes the biggest difference of all."  John Burke, lead pastor of Gateway Church in Austin, Texas, and author of "Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus" helps us see how Jesus interacted with people, the way he treated them, was what drew them to Him.

Why do we struggle to treat people like the immensely valuable, one-of-a-kind Masterpiece God created with his own hand? Jesus could see something worth dying for in all the people He encountered. He could see past the mud to the Masterpiece God wanted to restore.

The Church should be growing with new life, not just "reshuffling the deck between buildings." "If the Church is not seeing people go from lost to leading, ... then the reality is the Church is dying. It may take seventy years, but it's going to die."

In addition to "Mud and the Masterpiece", John has also written "No Perfect People Allowed" and "Soul Revolution" as well as numerous resources for spiritual growth and development. Along with his wife, Kathy, he founded Gateway Church in 1998. Since then, Gateway has grown to over 4500 members, made up largely of unchurched people who began actively following Christ there.

Listen to Larry's interview with John on our latest podcast episode here.

Tickets on Sale Now for Conversational Sundays #2 at Zhi Tea Gallery in Austin

Hill County Institute is running a series of dinner parties called "Conversational Sundays".  The first one, "Looking Through Christ's Eyes" was held Sunday, March 30, at SWOOP House in Austin, Texas.  The next one, "How Should We Consider the Extraordinary People Around Us", is Sunday, April 27, at Zhi Tea Gallery in East Austin. This is a new format for Hill Country Institute events, and we're excited about the intimate setting to gather and discuss how we can be more like Christ in our daily lives.  One of the common critiques leveled at present-day Christianity is that it's a religion full of hypocritical people.  The results from a recent study conducted by the Barna Group concluded Christians aren't doing such a great job of representing Jesus.  How can we change this?

Come join us in an intimate setting around the dinner table to talk about how we can be more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees.  We'll have dinner, enjoy an artistic performance such as music, dance, painting, etc., hear a brief talk from a guest speaker and participate in an open discussion about the topic.  We'll explore.  We'll ponder.  We'll consider.  And, hopefully, we'll come away better at looking at others and ourselves through the eyes of Jesus.  A primary resource for the series is a book called "Mud and the Masterpiece:  Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus" by John Burke, Pastor of Gateway Church in Austin.

Click here for more info and to register.

See photos from past Conversational Sundays here.

First Conversational Sunday Was A Hit!

Loving people as they are and helping them as they understand they don't have to stay as they are.  Eric Bryant, Associate Pastor at Gateway Church, helped us begin to think about how we can do that in our every day lives with the people who are right in front of us.  Neighbors, family, friends, even strangers. People who may not look like us, think like us, act like us, or even smell like us! Engaging culture with the love and mind of Christ. SWOOP House could not have been a more beautiful venue for us. Paul Finley worked wonder with his two guitars. Friends old and new gathered around the table to share our stories, ponder the questions we have, and reflect on how God wants us to live our lives. It was truly a beautiful evening. We hope you can gather with us next time.

The next Conversational Sunday is April 27. Eric Bryant will be with us again, which is good because none of us wanted the conversation with Eric to end last night! Tickets will go on sale soon. Price will be around $25.

Dates for the remaining Conversational Sundays:

April 27:  Building Friendships in a Diverse World; lead by Eric Bryant (Gateway Church, Austin)

May 18:  Truth, Imagination, and Meaning; lead by Dr. Darci HIll (Sam Houston State University)

June 8:  Restoring the Lost Art of Conversation; lead by Dr. Susan Quiring (Class Act Etiquette, Bryan College Station)

July 13:  Engaging the World Around Us - How? lead by Kirby Holmes (Gateway Church, Austin)

August 17:  Other ways to be salt and light; lead by special guest speaker TBD

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