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.
Brady Herbert, Lead Pastor
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!
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.
If you missed the update on Sunday, check out the video below.
Each year, our Lead Pastor, Brady Herbert, does a Sermon Recap where he revisits and reflects on his favorite/least favorite sermons/sermon series from this past year. It’s really cool to look back and see his thoughts on the series/sermons, but personally, it’s also a unique way to process and remember what all God had taught me over the course of the year.
A lot can happen over the course of a year. In 2015 there were a total of 8 different sermon series with 8 stand alone messages as well. Being an artist and therefore a very visual person, I correlate memories and ideas with visuals. For instance, when I see a sermon image from the past year, it brings back all the corresponding “big ideas” I might have taken away from that series. That’s one reason I believe it’s so important to create memorable graphics for each series – these are images that represent God teaching us powerful truths. Many times, when you listen to a song from your past, it can immediately take you back to that point in time and you instantly remember the season of life you were in. I think images can do the same thing. Sometimes after a year has gone by, just trying to remember what a sermon series was about could be extremely difficult, but looking at an image can be really helpful in recalling those lessons God showed us during that time.
That’s one reason I believe it’s so important to create memorable graphics for each series – these are images that represent God teaching us powerful truths.
That being said, I wanted to look back at 2015 and the images I created for the sermon series. This is a helpful practice for me personally, but I hope it can be just as meaningful for you as well. Below, I’ll go into detail about each sermon series image (I am not covering stand alone sermon images). I’ll talk about my favorite, my least favorite, and things in between. Please feel free to comment below with your favorite and least favorite (of course with your reasoning, too). I love hearing how meaningful, or not, an image was for you during this past year and your time with Harris Creek.
So, with that being said. Here is my 2015 Sermon Series Graphic Recap.
If you needed a reminder the 2015 sermon series, here are the 8 images I’m critiquing:
Favorite Overall Sermon Series Graphic:
This might be my overall favorite in similar ways to why “The Noonday Demon” was my “most surprising” image last year – the series was incredibly meaningful for me and therefore the image carries a lot of meaning as well. Along with that, aesthetically, this image matches my personal design preference (many images I design for Harris Creek might not be). I can’t take credit for the heart diagram image in the background because I did not draw it, but I added several effects and edits I added to make the final product you see above. The only thing that still bothers me is what’s called the letter “kerning” (aka spacing) between the letter “O” and the letter “S.” I somehow missed that in the original design..but it still is my favorite from this past year!
Least Favorite Overall Sermon Series Graphic:
Everyone is saying a collective, “WHAT!?” right now, I know. So many people made comments about this design and how much they loved it. But just based on personal preference, I don’t love it. I love muted colors or neutrals – so you can see why this might not personally speak to me. It obviously fit the series really well – so it was successful as a series image, just not my personal favorite. Once again, to be honest and up-front with what I’m taking credit for, I did not make the butterfly. That is an image I grabbed from an online source. You all can tell me how wrong I am in the comments below.
Most Surprising Sermon Series Graphic:
This image was such an evolution of ideas – I definitely didn’t start out in this direction. Honestly, to begin with, I was quite stumped as to how this series could translate into an image that wasn’t to much of a “stretch” to understand or too abstract. I think that’s why this turned out to be the most surprising in the best way possible. This one of my top favorites as well, and it also might be the most I’ve ever manipulated an image for a series graphic. I had to photoshop quite a bit out of the original water photo, then grab the man from another photo, fixing what’s called a “color cast” on the guy to make him match the water and appear as one cohesive image. This was a technically challenging image to make, although the outcome was pretty simple. I just love the subtle nudge towards the tagline the “upside down nature of the gospel” and therefore flipping the water on it’s head. It makes the image kind of “trippy” and unexpected. So I think there’s a lot of symbolism there. The color theme on this is also one of my favorites – muted, but not all neutrals. The steel blue hits just right to me. Definitely an unexpected outcome for this series image!
Most Disappointing Sermon Series Graphic:
Easter/Lent sermon series images are always so hard to nail down because you know you’ll be stuck with that image for a long period of time. As I start to design images that will be used for an extended period of time, this paralysis tends to seeps in during the design process. Therefore, it’s daunting to land an image for seasons like this. This series, that talked about the many different attributes of the “Great I Am,” also made it difficult to nail down a singular image since it covered such a wide variety of topics (thanks Brady). Since we changed the weekly sermon series images depending on the attribute we focused on that week, it also made this a dauntingly huge sermon series image set to make. On top of the usual images I make for every sermon series (title slides, content slides, posters, Instagram, etc.) I had to do all of those for EACH sermon instead of one for the entire series. That could also contribute to the negative feeling I have towards this image – justified right? Right. There were tons of opportunities with each name of God to get really crazy creative with it. I could have taken this a few steps farther and I would have been happier with it. The final outcome just wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.
That’s all I have! To be clear, these are just all MY opinions. Not anyone else’s. Just mine. I definitely want to hear from you too! Leave a comment with your ranking and thoughts on any of the graphics from 2015. Comment below!
This past year, our congregation generously gave to Living Water International to bring clean drinking water and the message of Jesus Christ to those around the world. We recently received an update upon the completion of a well project that we funded in Uganda. The well was constructed at a place called Kikoni Standard College that has 1,200 students and 80 staff members.
John, our contact with Living Water International, says Kimono Standard College “initially depended on a shallow well for their immediate water need. This posed extreme management, health and sanitation challenges. The students, particularly the weaker … girls and some boys had to walk long distances to unsecured unprotected water sources-the hand dug well searching for water. Physical fatigue, stress amongst the school population, and learning time lost (i.e. Time Poverty), affected school performance and enrolment children spend long hours hunting for water. Also, the girls were endangered by the unfriendly school environment characterized by inadequate sanitary facilities.”
“I thank you for this water. The school administration told us it will be developed into a production well serving whole school. We shall no longer walk long distances hunting for water from hand dug well or spend long time queuing for water. Thank you!”
I walked into Harris Creek a few months over 6 years ago – a bright eyed, 18 year old, freshman at Baylor who visited for the first time with her roommates because they were offering free lunch (and what college student doesn’t love a free lunch ammiright?). There was only one service being offered at the time and probably about 300 people attending that morning – Harris Creek was a very different place than it is now. But after attending that morning, I never went anywhere else. I fell in love with the heart of the people and mission of Harris Creek – something that didn’t change with a church that exploded in growth in the following year.