A Clear Direction for the Future
Why in the world would anyone go to Round Rock, Texas? For the best donuts in the world, amazing breakfast tacos, and Awaken Church, of course.
Located just north of Austin, TX, or north of cool or weird, as some of the locals say, Round Rock is an eclectic blend of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s where west coast meets deep Texas roots, boots and belt buckles meet Yeezy’s, and all of that is found at Awaken Church.
Awaken launched as a church plant just over three years ago with a different lead pastor. Then COVID struck.
For many, COVID quarantine became a catalyst for looking introspectively to what God was calling them to, and the lead pastor of Awaken Church was no different. Sensing a call back into the military, he left Awaken, and now lead pastor Ryan Cavinder stepped in to fill the role and lead the church during a challenging season.
“We’ve seen God’s faithfulness to come out of Covid in a healthier place as a church and in pretty much every category,” Ryan shared.
When asked his secret, Ryan could only point back to God: “Prayer, prayer, and God’s faithfulness. I wish I had a secret potion or some magical formula to share, but that’s really all it was.”
Ryan also credits the church’s health to bringing worship and creative pastor, Josiah Ley, to the team. In Josiah’s previous season of ministry in Houston, Texas, he and his family served in a variety of capacities. Jesus was always primary, but using his gifts and talents came second to meeting the current need.
“We were focused on discipleship and really living out missional communities. To see how the Lord was preparing us for transitioning to Awaken, not just to be able to lead worship on Sunday mornings, but to really help and join Ryan in cultivating culture and community…only God can do that type of preparation work. It’s been very cool,” Josiah shared.
Cultivating culture and community. That became the driving goal for the team of Awaken Church even as they cared for their members in the midst of the pandemic.
The Hole in the Bible Belt
Despite their location in Texas, Austin is referred to as the hole in the Bible belt. The city and surrounding suburbs are largely unchurched. It’s a difficult place for church plants to launch and grow. With an eclectic congregation made up of transplants and traditional Texas citizens, Awaken Church has the challenge and opportunity of pastoring a wide range of people.
“We’ve always been all about diversity, not just racially, but in every way. And God has blessed. What’s overall a relatively small congregation has incredible diversity. So it’s great to see really just the body of Christ existing I think the way that it was meant to,” Pastor Ryan said.
During the pandemic, Ryan, Josiah, and their team began asking, “What are we doing? Why are we doing it? If it doesn’t align with our vision and values, then let’s scrap it and try something new.”
Pastor Ryan shared: “I think the temptation is to try to be all things to all people, which quickly becomes all these programs, which quickly becomes stretching all your people too thin.
“We’ve made some hard decisions and had to scale back on some programs and cancel some events, but really needed to keep the main thing, the main thing. And make sure that we’re prioritizing our people and spiritual growth formation.”
It was important to the leadership of Awaken to not be someone they were not during the pandemic, which is why they chose to focus on who they wanted to be with a rebranding campaign.
Awaken originally partnered with a church planting network and experienced a huge change of leadership during Covid. All of this left the leadership team feeling like the branding, mission, and vision were good but didn’t quite fit who God was molding the church to be. As Pastor Ryan put it, “it felt like wearing someone else’s clothes.”
“We’re in a unique spot. We have really unique people. So we felt like we needed something that was specific to us and the goals that God had put on our hearts and where he wants to lead this church specifically,” Ryan said. “I think between that and kind of the leadership change, Covid, and everything else, we wanted to give our people some very clear direction as to where we’re headed. So they could really rally around this.”
Cultivating Culture and Community
Awaken knew their community, their church, and their desire for the future. But they knew partnering with ArtSpeak would help them put words and imagery to the direction God was leading. Awaken leadership met with ArtSpeak team members, and the work began to craft branding and messaging unique to Awaken Church for a new season of ministry.
Ryan called the experience “challenging, humbling, exciting. I think it’s one of the most valuable processes I’ve been through in my professional career. Honestly, I was just continually impressed.”
Ryan found himself remembering to trust the process as the ArtSpeak team led them to unearth some current mentalities and messaging that needed to be discarded in favor of the new direction God was leading.
“We came into this looking for a new logo and looking for some new messaging, but I think we came out with such a clear direction of where God’s leading us as a church.
“And honestly, I think that’s been one of the biggest benefits of working with ArtSpeak. It hasn’t been anything that people can see, but I think it’s been the change of direction and the infusion of culture,” Ryan said.
The deep work is often where the most value emerges, and Josiah discovered that first hand on ArtSpeak’s visit.
“I’ll never forget during your team’s visit, Cory was asking us things on culture, what is our church, what are our people like, etc. And we were just rattling things off. And then he said, ‘I think what you guys are trying to say is this,’ and he read it to us.
“And I remember I just started crying. To have somebody give language to the things that we were feeling beneath the surface was truly a special moment in my life.”
Less Hype. More Intentionality.
With new branding and a focused vision for the church, Awaken is excited about what lies ahead. And while Awaken has purposed not to be all things to all people, they are thriving at meeting the needs of their people.
“I was a little bit worried about our new logo. We went a little bit with the modern, clean feel and away from a script kind of font from our previous logo design. And I’ll never forget this middle-aged woman in our congregation says, ‘This is a really cool logo, but I feel like I can still relate to it.’
And I remember hearing that and being like, ‘wow, that’s a win!’”
The more consistent messaging is used, the more it infuses into a congregation and creates culture and common purpose. That’s what the Awaken leadership has experienced in the wake of their new branding. The messaging and clear vision are the blueprint. Now the congregation gets to do the hard work of where God wants them to go next.
A Sending Church
“We feel called to share the gospel far and wide. God has put me in a church of about a hundred average attendance on a Sunday, and we’ve got well over 10 percent who are local or former global missionaries.
“We’ve got former pastors; we’ve got some incredible people and some future pastors, too. And so we really feel like we want to be that sending church,” Ryan said.
Josiah added, “I remember one of the first conversations with ArtSpeak and they asked us to summarize where we were at and where we wanted to go. And I was like, ‘I think I can do it in a few words.’ Less hype, more intentionality.”
And their direction and branding is just that. Awaken Church is positioned to meet the needs of their community and by God’s grace they will do so.
As they look to the future, they have words of encouragement for other churches who need a fresh start and renewed vision: “Call ArtSpeak. First and foremost, these guys are phenomenal.
“I don’t think we knew what God was going to do, and maybe it was better that way, but make sure that you’re ready. Make sure that your staff’s ready for what’s coming, because the investment is more than just dollars and cents,” Ryan said.
Josiah added, “ArtSpeak took us on a deep journey and shepherded us through that process. It was unveiling to a lot of things that we didn’t suspect. And thank God for that really.”
Sharpen Your Vision for the Future
Every church and ministry has a specific and strategic purpose in their community. It’s a purpose that no one else can fill. And it’s a purpose worth discovering, worth honing, worth the dollars and cents to bring to life.
If you think you might need Strategic Messaging, branding, or willing listeners who will help you better articulate and identify your purpose in your community, we’d love to help.
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