Reclaim!

reclaimwebHarris Creek kicked-off two support groups in our community this week through Reclaim Ministries. Women facing the painful and confusing road of infertility gathered on Tuesday evening to work through their grief and share their experiences at Reclaim Infertility Support.   Yesterday, a year of planning, training, and prayer came together at Harris Creek’s first Reclaim Recovery meeting. The Reclaim Recovery team beautifully demonstrated vulnerability throughout our training, and we were all encouraged as our first participants openly shared and named their hurts, hang-ups, and habits on night one. The beauty of recovery ministry is found in countering the lie that we are alone in our struggle or must sit in our shame.

As the old adage states, “church should be a hospital for the hurting, NOT a hotel for saints”.

Jesus spent his time among people struggling in their humanity. He came to heal and set people free from the hurts, hang-ups, and habits holding them captive. He took the wisdom of this world and turned it on its head in this story from Matthew 9:10-13:

When Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?”

Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” (The Message)

Reclaim Recovery is a place to set aside masks and admit our need for God and each other. Whether Reclaim is one of several recovery meetings attended each week, or a first experience with recovery ministry, we have tools for releasing tightly gripped coping mechanisms that keep us from living wholly and freely.1-thess-5

I am walking proof that God’s transforming touch can heal the deepest wounds- yet, I am still in progress, and hope to continue steps toward wholeness as long as I am on this side of eternity. I still turn to the comfort of food and the warm, familiar blanket of victimhood and resentment when my focus wanders. Depression rears its ugly head from time to time- the fear of its return always haunting. Recovery is a process, not a quick fix with an end date. I’m no longer striving for perfection or absence of hurt- I am taking steps toward wholeness. I’m in this for the long haul, and I hope that you will join me.

“When I get honest, I admit that I am a bundle of paradoxes. I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty. I am trusting and suspicious. I am honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I am a rational animal; I say I am an angel with an incredible capacity for beer.

To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side, I learn who I am and what God’s grace means. As Thomas Merton put it, ‘A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.’”

-Brennan Manning, A Ragamuffin Gospel

For more information about Reclaim Ministries, visit harriscreek.org/reclaim. Follow us on Twitter at @ReclaimMinistry.

2016 Sermon Recap

 

As we near the end of 2016, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the past year, particularly when it comes to preaching. Every year I try to devote some time to processing how things went – what was effective, what was less than stellar, and how I can improve. Just like an artist, an actor/actress, or even a coach, there are some final products that I’m personally more pleased with than others. I think working back through what seemed to be most and least effective, along with figuring out why, is an important discipline if you are serious about your craft. This is a yearly attempt to stay disciplined as a preacher, teacher, and communicator.

In general, I would say that preaching this year has been both harder and easier than in years past. The part that has come easier is the delivery side of the message, as I am grow
ing more comfortable communicating on a stage. There were some tangible delivery goals I was able to accomplish over the past 12 months, some of which were aided by using a chair and pub table. This approach has allowed me to be more deliberate and even slow down (just a hair). The aspects that have been harder this yearhave been on the content creation side of the process. In October, I reached my six-year anniversary of being Lead Pastor at Harris Creek. The most candid way to put it is that I feel like I hit a bit of a wall this year. When you preach 40+ times a year for six straight years, it’s not always easy to keep your creative edge while also remaining rooted in Scripture. The delicate balance is to try to keep reading Scripture with a fresh perspective without getting too “cute” with it and end up butchering what the text is actually saying.

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The other unique challenge in 2016 was changing my approach to preparation due to the design of Elements. To begin with, the sermons in Elements are slightly different than the way I tend to teach. This was something I warmed up to because, as I said earlier, I probably needed to change something up after hitting a creative wall. The process of creating content for Elements is also much more collaborative, with five other people having a role in the development of the material. Each voice at the table is uniquely gifted and incredibly helpful. On the flip side, it feels a bit like multiple artists trying to paint a picture on the same canvas. Each person might have a slightly different style, and it’s my job to bring a singular voice to the final product (including the sermons).

All in all, I am proud of the ground we covered as a congregation in 2016 and the license our people gave me to try new things. We have an incredibly flexible, gracious, and supportive ethos amongst our congregation. There is great value in people coming together on a weekly basis, doing their best to listen to the Spirit speak through Scripture, and earnestly seeking to respond obediently to what God is saying to us. The approach I like to take in this recap is to follow this pattern: I am going to list the series from the last year, give you some “measurable stats” from my 2016 sermons, then follow that up with a list of my own commentary and reflections from my messages over the last year. I hope this gives you some helpful insight into my world and what goes into the sermons each week.

 

2016 MEASURABLE STATS
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SERMON SERIES IN 2016
– Rebuilding from Rubble
– Rediscovering Freedom
– God in the Movies
– Thriving in Exile
– Two Pictures of Discipleship
– Elements: Unit 1
– The Glorious Return

 

LEAST FAVORITE SERMON: “Stone Tablets” from The Glorious Return
WHY: This one is still fresh for me, which means I’m still not over it. The week before this sermon we were coming off of a fairly intense stretch of discussions with our bank regarding the “Our Turn” initiative, and I updated everyone on the not-so-fun surprise appraisal. The following week, I was worn out. It took me twice as long to get something semi-coherent on paper for this message.

This was one of the few times I have ever had to work on a Saturday to land a message. Some pastors love to create “Saturday Night Specials.” Not me – they stress me out. All that to say, I was not as confident in the message as I wanted to be heading into the morning. I think one of the most challenging aspects of my job is having a “project” due every weekend for people to review, no matter how I feel or what’s going on. It’s part of it, and our congregation is always extremely gracious, as I stated earlier. But I personally hate when I haven’t landed things the way I wanted to in a message, and this one stands out to me as one of those times this happened in 2016.

 

FAVORITE SERMON: From the Ground Up” from Rediscovering Freedom
WHY: This sermon was my message for Easter in 2016, and I felt like it struck the best balance of all my Easter sermons to date. The typical rhythm is for Easter to conclude our sermon series during the Season of Lent. This means people who haven’t been with us previously are hearing the final message that we’ve been building up to for six weeks. Easter also presents some distinct challenges because the demographics on Easter Sunday tend to be different than the typical makeup of our congregation the rest of the year. Finally, the congregation seems to be a little “stiff” (from my perspective) every year on Easter Sunday. This is probably due to the fact that we have more guests, we have church members who have invited friends, and people are even a little more formal in how they dress compared to your average Sunday.

My first few years, I was not exactly prepared for these shifts and the different dynamic in the room on Easter. This year, I felt like I was able to anticipate what was coming and speak to the people in the room. That meant speaking to our congregation and wrapping up our series in a satisfying way. It also meant speaking to newcomers in such a way that they could join the conversation without feeling lost. Finally, it meant speaking to anyone who might be a skeptic in such a way that might make them more open them to the revolutionary power of the resurrection. With all that is on the line every Easter, it’s easy to get disappointed with yourself as a communicator and feel as though you didn’t do it justice. This year, I was pleased and content with how things landed.

 

LEAST FAVORITE SERIES: God in the Movies
WHY: This is typically an annual series that I really look forward to every spring. This year, I felt a little more constrained based on feeling conflicted over a particular movie I considered reviewing. The film had an “R” rating, but it was not for the reasons that seem to be more gratuitous which sometimes draw this rating. The violence and disturbing images that caused it to be restricted carried an important message in the film, and it was a message I believed was worthy of discussion. However, after getting some wise feedback from our leadership (elders and staff), I ultimately decided to go a different direction. It was also a conversation with another local pastor who I trust and respect that helped me make this decision. But the whole conversation had (and still has) me questioning if this series can accomplish its intended purpose of engaging the culture around us.

If there are films that seem to be shaping our culture and they aren’t overly perverse “just to be perverse,” I think those are movies we need to be aware of as Christians. Yet, I also recognize that there is a line here, and there are some conversations that can’t be had with the entire church family due to the broad range of both age and maturity levels within our congregation. The line on this whole discussion tends to be a bit of a moving target. I do know that if we simply talk about the parts of culture that we’re comfortable with or “family friendly,” then we need to probably call it for what it is – “God in the Disney Movies.” I’m still praying through which direction this needs to go in the future, but I’m thinking this series may have run its course.

 

FAVORITE SERIES: Thriving in Exile
WHY: For years, we’ve talked about “planning in pencil” around Harris Creek as part of what it means to be a leader on our team. This approach has two sides to it: (1) doing the hard work of actually charting the direction we are heading, and (2) being flexible enough to call an audible when the situation demands it. This series was one of the bigger “audibles” I’ve called when it comes to planning a sermon series. The original plan was to preach through the Book of Ecclesiastes last summer, but it just didn’t seem to fit where we were as a congregation. The next plan was to preach through the second half of the Book of Acts, the part that tends to get ignored. This, too, felt like it wasn’t exactly what was needed at the time.

Ultimately, we ended up studying the narrative portion of the Book of Daniel, and it was a series that seemed to be timely for where we are as a culture. “Upheaval” would be one word that I think accurately describes 2016 for many people. With an unconventional election on the national front and a lot of turmoil surrounding the highly visible Baylor football program at a local level, the past year was disorienting for many of our people. The story of Daniel was one that came to me as the summer was approaching, and it turned out to be a fascinating study. I personally learned a lot from Daniel’s story and the faithfulness of the Israelites in Exile. For something that wasn’t planned on my end of things, this series became a great encouragement to my own faith and hopefully the faith of many others.

 

The Warehouse – A New Harris Creek Worship Project

Hey Church Family, I know this blog finds you in an extremely busy (and sometimes stressful) Christmas season, where you have countless responsibilities and obligations, as you try to get EVERYTHING done that there is to do before celebrating Christmas. I’m no different – even finding time to write this blog has been challenging! Even through all the busyness, I wanted to let all of you know what we’ve been up to as a worship ministry. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that we have begun a two-year journey, “Elements”, as a church, and we are about to embark on the second unit in January. As we were thinking about how to make this a holistic discipleship process for our people, we began to consider how our music might be able to bring some special meaning and provide some additional language to the Elements conversation.

 

“…we began to think about how our music might be able to bring some special meaning and provide some additional language to the Elements conversation.”

 

So, here’s what we’ve done. We recorded three different songs which are thematically tied to the first unit of Elements in the exact same warehouse where we filmed all those great Elements videos you’ve watched this past fall. The first song we are releasing, “O Come,” is an original one that we wrote in light of the themes from unit one of Elements. This is a song you might be familiar with, as we’ve been singing it during the Advent season. The second song we are releasing is the old hymn “Be Thou My Vision,” and the last song we will release is a song we sang many times last semester, “Everything and Nothing Less.” It is our hope and desire that these songs become spiritual markers for you during this journey — songs you can go back to time and again to help you spark a heart for worship, or to help you fully surrender to what God is asking of you. We hope that these songs give you a vision of our Creator, and that they would give you the desire to continually ask for more of His Spirit in your life. We encourage you to share these videos with everyone you can, as it is our hope and desire that they may touch the communities and circles around you and make a Kingdom impact. And maybe, just maybe, someone who’s having trouble slowing down or seeing the joy of this Christmas season will experience the incarnation of Christ in their own heart through one of these songs.

 

Much peace, Drew

 

P.S As we continue our #elementsjourney, keep watching each semester for new songs and videos to be released in conjunction with that Unit!

Check out our first song, “O Come” below:

Our Turn Update #4

Church Family,

A little over six weeks ago, we celebrated our one-year anniversary of the launch of the “Our Turn” campaign. That weekend, we came together and had a time of prayer devoted to asking God for the necessary provisions in the days, weeks, and months ahead as we planned to break ground. In the weeks following this event, we have encountered a significant hurdle that has delayed our plans to break ground that I want you to be aware of as we process how to move forward.

As we approached the time to close on the loan with our bank, the appraisal on the project (including our current building and land) came back significantly lower than anyone, the bank included, expected. The portion of the appraisal that was most surprising was the assessment of our existing facility, not the new construction. For a little perspective, our current facility at our Sunwest Campus was appraised at $3.5 million in 2006; the appraisal a few weeks ago came back valuing the current structure at $2.6 million. With the way that property prices have increased over the last decade in Waco, particularly in the Woodway/McGregor area, this was obviously not something that anyone expected.

To put it plainly, this appraisal has made closing with the bank impossible until we get more cash and we are able to put more money down up front. After receiving this news, we have been working through what this means for the project and how to move forward. It’s clear that we still have the ability to make the project happen, but it is going to take a little longer than we expected.

As we look at how our finances have been trending, things are going incredibly well. I am very encouraged by where things stand and how sacrificial so many people have been in their giving. I have attached a detailed breakdown of how the first year of the “Our Turn” campaign is trending so far in a separate sheet for you to review.

While our financial situation is looking incredibly solid right now, we also have some clear challenges that are right in front of us in order to get this project to the construction phase and continue to move forward. The challenge we are facing is that waiting much longer to close with our bank would mean running the risk of increasing the cost of the project and significantly delaying the timeline for construction. Just so I am clear: we don’t necessarily need more money than you pledged; we need as much money as you can feasibly provide as soon as you can possibly provide it.

I know that mass communication on a project of this size and scope can create some fears and doubts that are unnecessary, so I want to close by reminding us of an important story in Scripture that can help frame the task at hand in a helpful way. In Numbers 13-14, Moses sent representatives from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to scope out the Promised Land. When they returned, Joshua and Caleb saw a clear pathway God was making for them to inherit what He had already promised. The problem was that the other spies evoked fear, doubt, and panic from the people of God and made them question God’s promise to them. In Numbers 14:11, God asked Moses, “How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them?” The question wasn’t if the feat was possible. God had already called and equipped them to accomplish the task at hand. The problem was their lack of faith. The reason God was frustrated with them for their lack of faith was because He had already proven Himself to be faithful every step of the way.

We are more than able to accomplish the task God has set before us. Don’t be afraid. Don’t get frustrated or jaded. Don’t dream about going back to a place that we’ve already left and wasn’t where we were supposed to be anyway. I am asking for you to operate out of joy and with an “abundance mentality,” rather than acting out of fear and from a “scarcity mentality.” Press forward, simply do what you can, and be someone with a “whatever it takes” mentality. You won’t regret it.

 

In Christ,

Brady Herbert

 

If you missed the update on Sunday, check out the video below.

Our Turn Update #3

Church Family,

On Sunday, we had a quarterly update on the “Our Turn” initiative to help keep you aware of the progress. This update is unique because we are nearing the one-year anniversary of the “Our Turn” campaign and have some significant updates across the board to share with you. In this update, I will share an update on giving and the construction timeline regarding the Sunwest Campus expansion project. I also want to share some news concerning our Training Institute: United Kingdom.

SUNWEST CAMPUS EXPANSION (GIVING UPDATE)

We are nearing 10 months of giving data when it comes to how we are trending on the giving front. If you read our monthly publication called “Keeping You Current,” you already know that our monthly finances are doing well right now. This means we are covering our operating budget on a monthly basis and managing costs really well. To put it another way, our proportional giving seems to be on track and healthy.

When it comes to expanded, or sacrificial, giving, we are seeing a little lag with a sizeable number of people. There are 105 “giving units” (families or individuals) who have fulfilled less than 35% of their pledged amount. As we near the halfway point in this two-year process, we really need everyone to revisit your commitments to see how you can stay on track. We are approaching the time to close with the bank on the construction loan and needing to make some significant financial decisions based on the pledges that were made. If you can revisit your commitment and let us know if anything has changed, this will help us update our records and make fiscally sound decisions. The easiest way to update your commitment is to email Kelly Merritt (finance@harriscreek.org) and let her know of any changes in your circumstances.

SUNWEST CAMPUS EXPANSION (CONSTRUCTION UPDATE)

On the construction front, you will see a new rendering of the expansion project at the entrance of the Sunwest Campus. We have received 100% of our construction documents from our architects and are now getting final bids from our general contractor. The goal is to break ground on the project within the next two months, sometime in November.

On a related note, we will have an opportunity to revisit the vision behind this campaign and celebrate all that God has accomplished over the past year during our morning worship services on Sunday, October 16. We will also host a special gathering that evening for everyone in our congregation from 5-7p at our Sunwest Campus. This event will provide some unique ways to envision the future and spend some time in prayer as the beginning of the construction phase gets closer on our Sunwest Campus expansion project. It’s going to be a great weekend and an important moment for our congregation that you won’t want to miss!

Finally, the last quarterly update included a request for prayer regarding the outdoor baptistery. I wanted to let you know that we got approval from the City of Waco to move forward with the design, and we are thrilled! We have some amazing people helping us with this portion of the project, which we see as a gift from God. We also knew that it would take a certain amount of divine favor to make this happen, so we are grateful for your prayers and for the good news.

TRAINING INSTITUTE: UNITED KINGDOM

The “Our Turn” campaign has been about far more than a building from the outset, and part of our expansion strategy included starting a cross-cultural equipping opportunity in the United Kingdom. Our first team from Harris Creek returned from the Training Institute in the UK in August, and they had an incredible experience. The team worked with a church in Brighton, England, for the summer. The experience was extremely fruitful, and we’re looking forward to expanding the Training Institute in the coming year by sending more people and adding more partner churches/para-church organizations. Our entire congregation will also have a unique opportunity in the coming months to connect with the work going on in the Training Institute: United Kingdom when Dave Steel, the pastor of One Church Brighton, preaches at Harris Creek on Sunday, November 6.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

In closing, I would say there is a ton of positive momentum and groundwork being laid across the board right now, so be encouraged! I hope you will continue to pray about how you can take more steps to contribute to all that is happening through the “Our Turn” initiative. It’s clear there is a fresh movement of God in our city, and the work He is doing through Harris Creek is part of this new chapter being written. Exciting days are right around the corner!

In Christ,

Brady Herbert

 

If you missed the update on Sunday, check out the video below.

Choosing a Name (Round 3)

Yesterday, I witnessed our third child, Warren Kyle Herbert, enter the world. It was every bit as exciting, nerve-racking, and wonderful as the other two times I’ve witnessed one of my children take their very first breath. Witnessing new life come into the world for the first time is one of God’s best gifts that He can give us. “Gift” is the word that comes to mind because there are so many aspects about the growth and development of a baby that are outside of our control. Yet, by the grace of God, a fully formed tiny human enters a world waiting for him to arrive. I wrote about the significance of both Camden and June’s names after they were born, so I wanted to keep up the tradition.
Continue reading “Choosing a Name (Round 3)”

Training Institute: U.K. (Month Review)

 

Here’s a quick rundown of the first month of the Training Institute: U.K.:

  • Katie Yarbro, Elizabeth Ogburn, and Merritt Denman are the first interns for the program, and they are all serving with One Church in Brighton, England.
  • They hit the ground running and headed to Youth Camp, an off-site but nearby gathering of multiple congregations that gave the interns an early jump on meeting some One Church members.
  • The host home for each of the girls has been incredible with hospitality and inclusion.
  • 13568882_10207130039034012_1407876478704108352_oOne Church hosted its first of several CHOMP events, which are meal and activity provisions for the local community while kids are on holiday from school. The interns have mentioned that a noteworthy takeaway was how disarming it can be to simply sit down next to someone at a meal table. The volunteer servers do not stand back and keep to themselves, but rather they are expected to pull up a folding chair and sit with those whom they serve at the plastic pop-up table. Continue reading “Training Institute: U.K. (Month Review)”