Who Am I?

I belong to God, through the gracious gift of Jesus Christ, in whom I believe and put my trust as Lord and Savior.  Known as one who speaks often of grace, I do so out of deep experience and gratitude for that grace.  I also treasure God's Word and Spirit of truth, as that which is inextricably bound up with grace.

I have been married to Heather Brackbill Austell since 1992.  We met through InterVarsity in college and have three daughters.

I am an ordinary man who has been loved by an extraordinary God.  I love the church and the Word and the way God draws people to the hope of the Gospel.  I am humbled by the grace of God in my life and want to share that grace with those inside and outside the church.  At the end of the day, all talents, experience, qualifications, and personality aside, my desire is to show people the love, truth, and grace of God in Jesus Christ.

A bit more...
I am on the front end of the GenX generation (b. 1968) and find myself culturally "bi-lingual" between the modernism of my predecessor generations and those that follow. This ability to understand and communicate culturally with my elders, peers, and younger generations has informed our worship and mission as a multi-generational congregation.

In a similar fashion, musically I "read the notes" and "play by ear." I am a classically trained pianist (some 14 years worth), but have also been playing by ear since I was five years old.  Before going to seminary I worked as a songwriter, session musician, and sound engineer in Nashville, and continue to be a frequent worship leader at conferences in and out of the denomination.  I also write and record music, but probably enjoy even more working with younger or amateur musicians to record and flesh out their ideas.

Good Shepherd small worship team leading conference worship
in Anderson Auditorium at Montreat
Though distinctly called to be a pastor, much of my journey of call has been focused on how my musical gifts can complement the ministry to which God has called me.  This journey found great expression in my D.Min. project, in which I explored a biblical and historical theology of worship, particularly with respect to music.

I am deeply a people-person, but also cherish times of solitude to recharge and renew.

I love technology, but as a tool rather than an end in itself.

I am a laid-back, type A person.  That means I am naturally administrative and organized, but I also don't stress over disorganization or disorganized people.