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.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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.
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!
If you missed the update on Sunday, check out the video below.
As a reminder, the Our Turn campaign is a “one fund” approach, which means every dollar we give goes into the ministry budget of Harris Creek. In other words, your generosity can help us pay off the note for a building but it can also purchase Goldfish for kids or reduce the cost for students to attend a Youth Ministry event. To give you an idea of what your generosity is involved with, here are a couple of exciting things to celebrate in our Kids Ministry.
On June 2, we celebrated our 2nd annual Navigate Family Fun Night where kids brought their parents to the Sunwest Campus. The evening gave our parents the opportunity to experience how their kids worship on Sundays. This summer, our Life App is Faith: believing what Jesus did can change me. We sang fun songs together, met a silly professor and heard about how Saul met Jesus and how it literally changed his life. We left our families with the question: How can we see Jesus the way that Saul did and allow Jesus to change our lives? Following the family experience, we enjoyed pizza, played on inflatables, and enjoyed community. It was such a fun evening!
Just a few days after, Pine Cove’s Camp in the City came to Waco and invaded Harris Creek. Our kids had an AMAZING week learning about Jesus, playing hard and hanging with the best counselors around! On Thursday evening, staff and host families had the opportunity to hear stories—from the counselors—of things they had observed during camp. Here are a couple stories I wanted to share: