Long before ABBA was conceived, Dan Davis began building relationships with other pastors in the city. He came to believe that there was only one church in Austin and many congregations with different expressions of that one church. So each pastor was a pastor of THE church OF Austin, not the pastor of A church IN Austin.
In the meantime, Campus Crusade changed leadership and started getting vision for cities as a whole-- not just ministries within cities. They brought that concept to the team Alan Nagel was leading and asked them to think conceptually about how to reach the whole city.
By the time Alan ran into Dan at IHOP one day in 2001, Dan was already meeting with others who had a "city-reaching vision," and the Lord had told Alan it was time for him to have a "laboratory" city to test the concepts they'd been forming. Alan and Dan met with several other city-minded leaders in 2002 and established Austin Bridge Builders Alliance (ABBA) as a 501(c)(3) ABBA wasn't created to be a ministry that addressed issues such as poverty or education. It was conceived as a neutral convener positioned to draw ministries with specific callings together into a unified effort that could lead to a movement.
The challenge was in trying to get individuals and groups to look beyond their individual callings to envision what a unified effort could look like. Then, in August 2005, Hurricane Katrina ripped through the Gulf Coast and dumped thousands of homeless people into Austin's lap. The city wasn't prepared to deal with the scope of the problem. Suddenly, ABBA's value as a neutral convener became obvious. Ashton Cumberbatch and Bob Sleet leveraged their relationships with city officials and Dan Davis leveraged his relationship with pastors, and together these three men connected the needs of the city to the resources of the Church, and a whole new understanding of unity was born.
That revelation opened doors for broader collaboration. As pastors realized the force their churches could be for renewal if they worked together, a group of them gathered alongside ABBA to form the Pastors Strategic Council (PSC). They began to explore how churches might address the lostness and systemic issues of the city. ABBA worked at helping ministries and non-profits to join forces for greater collaboration and supported the city-building visions of individuals like Daniel Geraci, who has developed Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) into a rapid response network of trained individuals ready to mobilize when disaster strikes our area.
And now we enter a new chapter. The pastors have formed a strong central core and there is progress among ministries and non-profits leveraging their strengths for greater impact. ABBA is now turning toward the market place to help bring vision and unified effort in that arena. The principles of building on relationship, looking for individuals and groups that carry vision, working for unified movement rather than individual mission, and always seeking the leading of the Holy Spirit do not change. ABBA is and will continue to seek a unified movement that is working to see God influence the Greater Austin area. Through connecting communities we are pursuing the spiritual and social transformation of our region.