Austin Smith '13


Name: Austin Smith '13
Residence: Rock Hill, South Carolina
Degree: Visual Communication Design (Graphic Design)
Occupation: Pastor, Reveal Church

Austin Smith '13 and his wife, Brea, can remember a time as Winthrop undergraduate students when Bible study in a Campus Walk apartment was the highlight of their week.

Today, they are entrepreneurs and pastors of Reveal Church, about 10 minutes away from Winthrop's campus, where they both learned some of their biggest revelations about their faith, God and church. 

“It was an opportunity for us to reset what church looked like. Many people have had an experience with church that either is good or bad. For us, we have an opportunity to reset that church doesn't have to look the normal way. Our church is for all people, whether it's a different race or different belief. We are here for people,” Smith said.

The Columbia, South Carolina, native and son of a preacher, Smith said he has always been called to ministry but the journey to get there was challenging. As a freshman at Winthrop, he thought he was confident in his upbringing as a Christian but he discovered he wanted to fit in more.

“For me, I was an individual who had an idea and kind of knew who I was my freshman year but I wasn't OK with it because nobody was trying to hang out with the church boy, so I took the standard of who God made me to be and brought it down to fit in with everyone else,” he said.

Smith became relatable to other students as he continued to grow his ministry. From an underclassman living in Richardson Hall to walking the stage in 2013, he noticed how he had changed as a person. After graduating, he became a student director for Elevation Church's Rock Hill campus. He then transitioned to Movement Church and saw himself evolve even further.

“What this journey has allowed is for me to become relatable to people. I just want to help people and part of helping people is having empathy. I think that's a word that is lost in our society today,” Smith said. “I might not have had your experience but I can listen to you, hear your heart and realize we have a common denominator and that's called pain. I feel you. I hear you. I see you. And that's what people what: to be seen, heard and felt."

Relationship building is one of the key tenets of his ministry. “It's relationship over function for me. If it's only based on function, it's about what you can do for me. The moment you stop doing or you are not able to do any more, that person no longer has value.”

Smith is also interested in dismantling how people view God and the church beyond the traditional Sunday service. He focuses on providing a space where people learn daily lessons and interact as a family.

“For some of us, we learned church before we learned who Jesus was. So, I'm really interested in having a moment for people to have an encounter with Jesus and to really get to know who he really is, not based upon a political agenda but who he really is and how does that change their life,” he explained.

Becoming your authentic self, Smith said, has been his biggest accomplishment as well as his biggest challenge. He believes we place too much emphasis on doing rather than being; he wants to meet people right where they are in the process of learning themselves.

“I'm finally at a place in my life where I'm learning to be OK with who God made me to be. I see that I'm approved by him as his son and I'm learning what sonship is. That has been the most freeing thing,” Smith said. 

Learn more about Reveal Church at @therevealchurch