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!
Any trail that I have hiked (granted, there have only been a few in my life) has always contained at least two vivid realities – a hopeful destination and undoubtedly a painful switchback or two. We all have the idea of the destination firmly in the forefront of our thoughts as the journey begins. Legs are strong. Lungs are good, and confidence is high. But as the elevation climbs, and the trail gets more difficult, the prize at the end seems to be a distant goal at best.
Continue reading “Up for A Hike?”
Throughout the “Our Turn” initiative, I will take time on this blog to address some commonly asked questions related to our project approach and goals. One of these questions has centered on why we are building at the Sunwest Campus and not adding another campus within our area. I am thrilled that our people are even asking this question because it demonstrates how widely accepted our multisite approach has become.
Continue reading “Our Turn FAQ: Why Not Go Multisite Instead of Expanding Sunwest?”
Self-preservation is a powerful motivator. This was very apparent over the Memorial Day weekend. My two sons had not learned to ride their bikes. This is in part due to my poor fathering skills. Apparently, I lack some refinement in this area, but another reason is that crashing one’s bike is certainly a universal fear – that and waking up late for an important event. Both will freeze you with fear. My boys had fallen, cried and over-analyzed this whole ordeal. They were reduced to rubble. It was time for a change, and I was going to have to dig deep.
The anxiety surrounding this seemingly simple life skill was almost palpable. The boys were not interested in my “motivational” speeches or reminders that I had never lead them into the “valley of the shadow of death.” It was almost as if I was no longer the dad they trusted. We were at an impasse. So I began to think through what could break the stalemate. I was running on empty, so I thought let’s just try some unique encouragement and an idea from the wife. She is full of ideas, and has proven her superiority in our little partnership, so what could it hurt? So after a trip to Academy for knee and elbow pads on the advisement of my wife, and some role assignments for each of the two boys, we headed out to the church parking lot. This was going to be either be my Waterloo or my shining moment in family lore.
So with one son in the bed of the truck offering (yelling) encouragement and pads fully utilized by the other, we attempted our maiden voyage. The younger brother would go first. With a simple push of the bike seat, he was off and peddling feverishly around the lot! No tears, and no fatherly frustration (yelling). The exact same events played out one day later with our oldest, except for one important detail. After experiencing the success of his brother, he decided the pads were no longer necessary. We had two liberated little boys now wanting to peddle their way to Austin to see their grandparents. It was like they were meant to ride bikes. Of course I knew this, but they needed to experience it.
You know, fear cripples Christians. It not only disallows us to move forward into new areas of God’s provision and blessing, but it also dulls our memory of previous confidence builders. Fear almost thrusts us back to an ignorant and infantile place as Christians. No one wants to live like this, so we look for anything to build ourselves up hoping that God isn’t the only answer to our angst. We’re willing to wear goofy elbow and knee pads. We will worry ourselves into settling for a life of impasse all the while thinking it has to be better than trying that something new for God. You see, God is heartbroken when His children sit on the sidelines of life fearful of what could be. He tries to remind and prod, but at the end of the day we have to get up and acknowledge that His plan is one “to prosper us not harm us.” The church is truly strengthened and blessed when its individual members learn to move beyond their own fear-inducing behavior and trust God. Our fellowship is sweeter and our impact broadened. We are only as effective as the collection of our parts.
One lasting impression from that glorious weekend. I wanted my boys to experience the thrill that riding a bike can bring. I was hopeful for their childlike sense of freedom that would arrive. But what I really wanted, to be honest, was a chance to ride with them. This was my ultimate goal, selfish as it may have been. God wants company! He longs for His people and His church to raise the kickstand and take that next bend on the trail. God wants us to journey with Him, and He wants Harris Creek to journey with Him. Why not press on these days and seek God beyond our childish fears? Could it be that we drop the games and awkward imitations of peace and pursue the bold plan God has for us as a body?
Let’s ride Harris Creek!
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
— Helen Keller
As I listened yesterday to Brady unpack the process of how God listens to the cries of His people and removes them from bondage while restoring them to a place of freedom, something profound struck me. As I contextualized the message in my own life, God centered the conviction on my parenting. What I wouldn’t give to provide true freedom for my boys. As a father, I want my boys to experience freedom from fear, religious legalism, unhealthy modes of validation, etc. Those are all areas that I have wrestled with in my own life. It breaks my heart when I see them fall under the pressure of the very things that can drain me spiritually, relationally, and in my leadership of them and their mother.
But in God’s deliverance, we experience not only a cleansing and restoration, but also an exhilarating adventure. Paramount in that journey to true security is the understanding that my boys are not my own but rather temporary gifts on loan from God. This life can be a rather dark place. They need to see that this world is not simply unicorns and glitter. They need to see that dad is drawing his strength from His heavenly Father. They need to see that life dips and turns in ways that are unexplainable. They need to see there is an answer to those twists of “fate.” They need to see a dad willing to let go and allow the freedom in his own life demonstrate a confidence in the blood of Christ. Placing a stranglehold on the lives of our children is not providing security and a freedom from danger. This fallen world will make a fool out of any delusional parent seeking to remove this fact from the lives of their children.
This Lenten season, walking by faith and loosening the grip on orchestrating life to the smallest detail is necessary for me. We should avoid the silliness of our sin certainly, but to sift the experiences of life in hopes of freeing it from trial is a losing battle for fathers and their children. In the end we all lose. Let’s face this life and it’s crumbling nature, and truly acknowledge with everything that we are that in the end God wins. Christ made sure of that on the cross. Let’s point the compass of our intentions to that truth and act accordingly. Our children need to see what they can become in Christ through us.
“A river without banks is just a large puddle.”
I have thoroughly enjoyed the last month or so, as Brady has been unpacking and further clarifying Harris Creek’s discipleship philosophy. As a new covenant member, as well as a new staff team member, I very much appreciate clear direction and leadership in an organization. If I were completely honest, I would go so far as to say that I need those “banks” in most areas of my life. When I lack certainty and clarity on a personal level, chaos usually ensues. I become a puddle of ineffectiveness for the Kingdom.
Will Mancini is a consultant in the church development world. In a recent blog post titled “Why State Why? Top 10 Reasons to Articulate Values,” he provides wonderful content that helps organizations like Harris Creek clearly articulate who they are and why they exist. One of the reasons he provides the reader is that articulating values helps us “demonstrate God-honoring unity AND collective personality.” When we as a church are clear in our mission, it does two things for us as a people. That clarity provides inertia and a distinct rallying point for our efforts, motivation, and goal setting. The other thing it does is somewhat paradoxical.
When we are disciplined in our mission, it provides us freedom. Wait… What? Yes, organizational discipline creates an air of freedom for the individuals to express themselves in a healthy and God-honoring fashion within that mission. Harris Creek’s mission isn’t unique because it is most certainly birthed from Scripture. What are unique, however, are the various ways the mission is fleshed out among our neighbors locally, regionally, even globally. When we feel confident in what we are as a body, we have freedom to express who we are as a “collective personality.”
Let’s celebrate the uniqueness of our people and the clarity of our mission and movement in these days! After all, don’t we want Harris Creek to possess the power and movement of a river, rather than the stagnation of a puddle?