David Hackenbracht is a bit of a weirdo who is totally shocked to be working in ministry. After being raised to be a good Christian boy for all of his youth, he went on a rebellious streak in college and became an ardent atheist. For awhile, he thought it was pretty cool to know everything and be all rebellious and stuff. “To think of all the fools who believe in this religion garbage!” he might have thought (or said out loud) a dozen times… Eventually (perhaps because God has a sense of humor), David had a deeply spiritual experience he couldn’t explain. So, he spent a couple of years being a stereotype as he tried to find himself. During that time, he dropped out of college, tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to become a professional poker player, and ended up volunteering in an AmeriCorps program in Austin. For two years, David taught children to read, helped at a local food bank, and spent a lot of time in a garden working with his hands.

photo of David H

All of these experiences were fulfilling in a way David hadn’t felt in some time. His experience working for other people reminded him of the Christian values he learned about in Sunday School so many years before. But he still wasn’t ready to consider himself “Christian.” For the time being, he was content being “spiritual but not religious.

In his second year volunteering with Americorps, David had the opportunity to live with seven other volunteers in an intentional community (read: cheap rent) called the AYAVA House, a program hosted by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. This community turned out to be awesome! David was again reminded that many Christians were good people, and he liked the idea of living with good people. David wanted to keep living at the seminary as long as he could, but he couldn’t stay in the AYAVA House for more than a year. However, one of David’s really good friends told him about a program at the seminary that would allow him to stay in the AYAVA House another year. However, one of David’s really good friends told him about a program at the seminary that would allow him to stay there for cheap all while taking a couple classes at the seminary. This sounded perfect! David had long been interested in learning about religion from a scholarly perspective. Plus, he could take just two classes at a time at seminary, which left him the time to work towards finishing his undergrad.

For awhile, David was a half-time seminary student, half-time physics/math student. David is one of those weird people who actually enjoys math, so he talked about it at seminary a lot. Intriguingly, David’s simultaneous studies of math and religion provided David with the language he needed to understand his spiritual experience. David was slowly becoming religious again.

photo of David H.Around the time David started considering himself “vaguely-Buddhist-Christian-leaning,” he met Rick Diamond at the seminary. Rick was one of many pastors who were there to talk to students about internship opportunities at their churches. When Rick spoke about Journey, David was intrigued. The Christianity Rick presented was far different than anything David grew up with; it seemed laid back and driven by humor, self-aware and self-critical, and most important: genuine. David visited Journey, loved it, and kept coming back. Eventually, he became Journey’s intern, and Journey liked him enough to hire him a year-and-a-half later. Now, David has his Master of Arts in Ministry Practice, and still doesn’t have his Bachelor’s degree (which he thinks is hilarious). David is part time Ministry Associate at Journey and part time tutoring math at Austin Community College. David has finally come around to calling himself Christian, because he has developed an appreciation for what it means to follow Jesus. It’s not easy or perfect, and that’s fine! David is happy to learn and grow and is ready to go where God sends him.