New Releases from Harris Creek Worship

Hey everyone!

As I’m sure you’ve gathered, there’s a lot happening at Harris Creek this fall — and I can feel the energy heading into what might be a busy season, but an exciting one. Drew and I couldn’t help but add to the excitement and are releasing our second series of worship videos in conjunction with our Elements Journey.

Last semester, we released our first worship video project, “The Warehouse.” This semester, as we wrapped up Unit 2 of Elements, we are releasing three new worship videos that we think articulate some of the sentiments we explored during Unit 2: God and Me. We chose to do this series of worship videos in an acoustic, intimate setting that we thinks mirrors the personal journey many of us took this last semester as we dove into ourselves and explored who God has called us to be. We filmed these videos in a familiar space – the greenhouse – that you saw in the Elements Unit 2 story videos.

Over the next three weeks we will be releasing one worship video a week and we hope you enjoy these songs. These three videos will be a mix of original and cover songs as well as some new and some old songs. We hope these songs spur you along in your spiritual journey and help you explore who God has created you to be.

If these songs are meaningful for you, we hope you will share them with friends and family so that they can potentially have a Kingdom impact in many other communities and circles.

It is our desire that these worship videos are encouraging and inspiring to you in your walk with Christ. We are looking forward to this exciting season ahead with our Harris Creek church family!

 

Blessings,

Rebecca

Worship & Communications Pastor

 

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, “Restless Heart” below:

Training Institute: United Kingdom Update

One of Harris Creek’s ministry principles, Create Over Reproduce, drives us as a body to pursue creative solutions to hurdles that we face as we look to seek the welfare of our city. Our culture is constantly shifting, and we desire to be proactive when positioning our church to intersect the Gospel with that culture. One way to approach the unknowns that lie ahead is to learn from those who have gone before us.

Over the last few years our staff has been hard at work identifying churches that have wrestled with what we are just beginning to see here in our country. Our research took us to England. We have found a handful of unique and passionate churches that we think we can learn from. Though these partners aren’t an exact match of Harris Creek in terms of theology and practice, they do share a true desire to creatively engage their cities with the Gospel.

With trusted partners in place, we have begun to send young leaders into a summer long learning environment. The reciprocal aspects of the Training Institute:UK allow us to bless these churches with excellent volunteers for an extended period of time, and in turn we get to observe and ask questions as to their approach.

Church life in a post-Christian world is going to look different in each city. Our second summer rotation marks the addition of a ministry partner. As of right now, we have four residents in two different cities/churches in England. This cohort will experience vastly different approaches to seeking the welfare in Brighton and Birmingham. We are excited about what they will learn and bring back for us to consider.

This summer’s residents are Nathan Scott (Brighton), Christy McCaw (Brighton), Zach Winterrowd (Birmingham) and Shayna Bettinger (Birmingham). We will be providing updates on their experiences throughout the summer by way of this blog and our social media platforms.

 

We are excited to announce that we are adding short term options (8 days) for those looking to experience the TI:UK in an accelerated way. Stay tuned for those details!

Our Turn Update #6

Church Family,

Nearly 17 years ago, I packed up my car and headed to Waco for what I thought would be the next four years of my life. As I started my senior year, I remember a close friend (and now Covenant Member of Harris Creek) first suggesting the idea that staying in Waco after college was a great option and was something I should consider. I quickly dismissed the idea, and even scoffed at it. Through a series of incredible events, I have now lived in Waco almost as long as I lived in my hometown, where I grew up. While the “detours” that kept me in Waco certainly weren’t planned, and some of them were incredibly frustrating, hindsight now allows me to see that each circumstance led me to where I am today.

In a similar way, it can feel like it has been ages since we launched the Our Turn campaign. There have been setbacks, detours, and surprises throughout this entire process. Yet last month, we celebrated as a church the fact that we have officially entered a new phase of the campaign. A few weeks ago, we partnered with a strong local bank (TFNB) to get the funding we needed, in part thanks to a second appraisal that was more favorable than the original one we received. This great news helped us begin the construction phase of the Sunwest Campus expansion almost immediately, with our general contractor (K4 Construction) beginning their pre-construction preparations the following week. I’m happy to report that site work has officially commenced and dirt has started to move this week. It’s so exciting to see these dreams begin to become a reality!

Now that we have signed a loan agreement and begun construction, we have entered new territory when it comes to being able to fund this project and meet our commitments. As it stands today, we have received 63% of the pledges that were made in 2015 as part of the Our Turn campaign. We plan to conclude the official fundraising portion of the Our Turn campaign in December 2017 like we originally promised, even though construction will continue well into 2018. I would encourage you to look at your statement included in this envelope and consider how you can help us meet our goal by the end of the year. We believe that if we receive even just 85% of the pledged amount, then we will be able to meet our financial commitments by the end of the construction period. This means we need to receive an additional $515,000 of expanded giving between now and December if we are going to hit that 85% mark. Obviously hitting 100% of our goal would be ideal and incredible, and I believe this is still possible because I have seen the generosity of our people over the years.

There have already been so many families who have gone above and beyond what they pledged to give, and those stories are both humbling and inspiring. I also want to thank those of you who continue to tithe faithfully, which helps sustain our operating budget as well as maintain cash reserves. Both regular giving and “above and beyond” gifts are crucial at this stage. I know that this two year journey can feel daunting at this stage, but I don’t want us to lose perspective in seeing how far we’ve come and how close we are to achieving our goals.

With each step we take, there will be more excitement, more perspective gained, and more that is going to be required of each of us. But what I have learned by experiencing the ups and downs that come with rooting yourself in one place is that the hard work required in order to reap the benefits of being able to call a place “home” are absolutely worth it. It’s not always easy. The “how” is not always clear-cut. But that’s what makes it worth it. If it was easy, everybody would do it. The rewards of taking the narrow, more arduous path in the name of Jesus always leads to a perspective and a story we wouldn’t trade for the world. I hope that will be my testimony when this is all said and done, and I hope the same for you! I love you and am honored to be on this journey with you.

In Christ, 

Brady Herbert, Lead Pastor

Lead Pastor

Our Turn Update #5

Church Family,

In December, we brought you the news that our expansion project was going to be delayed due to the appraisal on the project (including our current building and land) coming back significantly lower than anyone expected. Over the past few months, we have been working diligently to figure out the best way to move forward and where we should go from here. Due to the timing of the news, we did as much work as we could before the Christmas holiday, and then we were able to pick up where we left off in the early part of January. Our goal has been to move forward as quickly and with as much prudence as we possibly could. As the last few months have unfolded, I continue to be encouraged by how our church has responded and the overall direction of the “Our Turn” campaign.

The unforeseen benefit of this delay is that it has allowed us to regroup and revisit the banking conversation altogether. The reason this has been a positive development for us is that the delay has given us more time to put money away into savings, which, in turn, has made us more attractive to lending institutions. A few banks that were unable to lend to us because of the scope of the project and the amount of cash we initially had on hand have now been able to rejoin the conversation. These discussions have led us to focus on two banks that have a strong local presence and a better understanding of our congregation (due to their local presence). At this stage, we are still in discussions with both banks and determining which one is the right fit for us moving forward. We hope to gain further clarity sometime in the next 30- 60 days on this front.

In the meantime, we have ordered a second appraisal to help us get a better idea of the true value of our project. We believe this will be helpful to the process, no matter the results of the appraisal. Much like someone getting a second opinion from a doctor before moving forward with a major procedure, we see this as a way to get even more accurate information so that we can make wise decisions that are best for our congregation in both the short and long run.

While this is happening, you continue to do an incredible job of giving faithfully and sacrificially in order to make this project happen, and I want to say thank you for doing this. We had a strong close to 2016 and an equally strong beginning to 2017, which was so encouraging to see. Here are a few giving trends we thought might be helpful and uplifting for you to know:

  • 44 giving units reached 100% of their pledged amount in December 2016
  • 69 giving units reached 100% of their pledged amount in January 2017
  • $227,605 has been received in excess from those who have already met their pledged amount and continue to give sacrificially beyond their pledge
  • 61% of expanded giving has been received ($1.4 million of $2.3 million pledged)
  • $332,121 was given in December 2016

February 16, 2017

  • $220,717 was given in January 2017
    $116,286wasgiveninJanuary2015(forcomparison) o $158,625wasgiveninJanuary2016(forcomparison)
  • $1,301,135 in unrestricted cash (as of January 31, 2017)
  • $1,101,135 can go towards “Our Turn” due to needing to keep ≈ $200,000 for cash reserves on hand

Hopefully, you can tell that giving trends are heading in the right direction and you are encouraged by what you see on the giving front. Year two of “Our Turn” is off to a great start! On top of the positive trends in giving, our staff continues to do a great job of managing expenses while appropriately funding ministry to make sure the work of the church continues as we build up our cash reserves.

To summarize: we have banks that are interested in partnering with us on this project; we are in a much stronger position financially than we were in November 2016 thanks to your continued generosity; and we are working hard to get us to the construction phase in a timely but prudent manner. I ask you to continue to pray over this process, particularly for wisdom when it comes to the banking conversations over the next two months. If we are able to move forward with construction before our next quarterly update, we will obviously break the regular rhythm of communication and let you know as soon as we can. Again, thank you for your continued generosity and faithfulness. I am honored to get to work alongside you in the work God has given to us!

In Christ,

Brady Herbert

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
2016 Sermon Stats.jpg

 

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.