Dayspring Fellowship, a Reformed Baptist Church, was started as a Bible study in the home of Jackson and Barbara Boyett in the spring of 1978 in Austin, TX. Cataclysmic social and spiritual change was in progress at the time. The 60’s counter-culture movement had challenged all behavioral norms and, for many, removed all normal societal behavioral restraints. A popular attitude of the day was; “if it feels good, do it.” Drugs infected all levels of society. Promiscuity and homosexuality were becoming open and common. Nearly all of society’s stabilizing institutions, including churches and universities, were radically changed.
But the 70’s also had experienced a true Holy Spirit-led revival. People everywhere, especially the young, were desperately searching for and often experiencing a truly meaningful spiritual awakening through the Holy Spirit.
Charismatic churches were growing. Mainline denominations were losing membership and many, having misunderstood the meaning of the revival were either hardened against it or had abandoned the true gospel and modernized their services so as to become more “seeker friendly” to appeal to a new enthusiasm. In these churches, the teachings of the Bible became less important than personal experience, and the natural result was concentration on emotion and self-esteem.
Church pastors were doing anything they could to keep their membership. “We’ll take ‘em any way we can get ‘em” became a popular mantra. We were deep into postmodern humanism. Christians were learning how to be better people and even more successful through self-help programs such as The Bill Gothard Seminar. One of the most popular books of the day, The Power of Positive Thinking was written by a pastor. The Word-Faith movement was in its ascendency. Churches where health, riches and well-being through faith was promised were growing exponentially. Healing services were popular. Rock musicians became great stars in Christian music. But the true gospel message was largely ignored. It is our belief that all growing Christians hunger for the Word. It is necessary food. At their very core is the desire to glorify God by knowing Jesus and obeying his word.
Our First Meetings
The Boyett Bible study fit this need perfectly. Jackson was an extraordinarily gifted teacher and he was also dedicated to truth found in scripture.
Fellowship at Dayspring is purposeful and almost continuous. It is characterized by true, loving relationships. We use any excuse to enhance fellowship. Fellowship meals are common. We celebrate birthdays and special occasions. We have anniversary meals and annual retreats. There is a monthly prayer breakfast for men and regular women’s fellowship meals. The fellowship is genuine as evidenced by the fact that it is hard to get people to leave after any of the services. Discussion groups spring up spontaneously and members minister to personal needs everywhere. Many stay and share a common meal so the parking lot is full until late in the day.
The study group began with about 20 adults, mostly refugees from modernized protestant churches. However, the original group included Catholics, hippies and a few seeking relief from a life wasted on drugs and alcohol.
There was almost instant bonding among the participants. Everyone felt accepted and equal. It could truly be said of the group, “see how they love one another.” They loved the Lord, loved His word, and were all eager to receive the true gospel message.
As is always the case, when the human is exalted there is always disappointment and confusion. As a result, God’s people were seeking edification through good, sound, Bible-based teaching wherever they could find it. Good Bible teachers drew eager crowds. New “Bible” churches were starting all over Austin.
Dayspring Fellowship is Born
Dayspring Fellowship was born. The name was taken from the prophet Malachi “the sun of righteousness shall rise (a true dayspring) with healing in its wings.” The model for the church was to be Acts 2:42. “And they continued together in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and breaking of bread (understood as communion) and prayers.”
In an attempt to remain close to the Apostles’ doctrine, nearly all regular preaching has been expositional; a verse by verse, chapter by chapter explanation of the meaning of scripture.
We would soon become the only reformed church in Austin. Since that time several churches have been established that teach the doctrines of the reformation.
From the very beginning the group enjoyed lively music and was particularly fervent in prayer. They also ministered to each other’s needs consistently. After only a very few weeks it was clear that the Bible study group was doing everything a normal church does except preaching and administering the biblical ordinances. So the decision was made to meet on a Sunday morning and have a normal church service; to sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, hear a real sermon and partake of the Lord’s Supper just as scripture describes worship.
It was September 1978. Close to 100 people gathered for that service and Jackson preached his first sermon. Communion was served and we all felt a true kinship having participated in a true God-centered and God-honoring worship service. By unanimous consent it was decided to meet again the following Sunday and to have an organizational meeting the following Tuesday.
Dayspring Fellowship Today
Dayspring is an independent church guided by a plurality of elders. The church is a very diverse group with homes scattered all over 4 counties. Rich and poor and all cultural and ethnic backgrounds are invited equally and encouraged.
We administer the ordinance of Communion weekly. It has become an integral and increasingly precious part of our regular Sunday morning worship. We find it refreshes the gospel to us every time we take it.
The church is reformed in that it sees the five SOLA’s of the Reformation and the five points of Calvinism as the most accurate understanding of biblical theology.
Dayspring is a Baptist church because we see the Bible as teaching that baptism is by immersion for believers only. However, we practice open communion for everyone who names the name of Jesus Christ. Therefore, every baptized believer, no matter the mode by which he was baptized is encouraged to share the sacrament.
Dayspring continues to be devoted to prayer. We have witnessed dramatic healings and spiritual awakenings and innumerable manifestations of God’s grace in answering prayer.
As to the Apostles’ doctrine we believe the Bible to be God’s complete revelation to man; inspired, infallible and inerrant. As the revealed word of God, it is therefore all sufficient for all instruction in faith and practice. We hold to the reformation doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. We are bound by scripture and not any creed. However, a convenient summary of our belief system can be found in the 1646 London Baptist Confession of Faith because of its great emphasis on the fulfilment of all things in Christ through the blood of the new covenant.
The goal of the whole church is to find peace and contentment in Jesus alone. Accordingly, we have learned to love the wonderful old hymns that were written as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries. One such hymn has the following words:
My faith has found a resting place, not in device or creed;
I trust the ever living one, His wounds for me shall plead.
Enough for me that Jesus saves, this ends my fear and doubt;
A sinful soul I come to him, He’ll never cast me out.
My heart is leaning on the word, the written word of God;
Salvation by my savior’s name. Salvation through his blood.
I need no other argument, I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died, and that he died for me.
Being a Christian is fundamentally trusting in Jesus, but it is hard work. “In this world there is tribulation.” The Christian life does not promise wealth, good health and worldly success, but it does promise a rich and contented life. The doors are open to anyone who wishes to join us in our walk with Jesus.