I have been extremely encouraged by a number of conversations I have had since starting a new series on Sunday called “Generous Living.” There are so many people at Harris Creek who have a desire to serve God’s Kingdom by living generous lives towards others. However, the biggest frustration I have heard coming from the sermon has been that I did not outline a plan of how to make a difference in our community. This comment has come in many different forms. I truly believe it is birthed out of the right intentions and people simply wanting to be a part of the solution. I really do. I also believe that any “program” I might have provided from the stage on Sunday would not have been beneficial to the problem at hand in Waco.
For those who do not live in Waco, here are a few of the problems I am talking about:
- Waco is the 5th poorest city in the state of Texas
- The Poverty Rate has gone up in the last few years from 27.6% to 30.9% (this compared to the average poverty rate of 17.2% in the state)
- The be qualified as a family living in poverty by the government, the Federal Poverty Guideline states that a family of 4 must live on $22,050 or less. 15.4% of people in Waco 15.4% live on half that amount
- More than 1/3 (36%) of children in Waco are in poverty
Here’s where Harris Creek comes in. Our mission statement is usually shortened to “seeking the welfare of the city.” So, that means we feel called as a church body to seek the welfare of these people in poverty. But these statistics on paper are pretty overwhelming. I’ve recently found myself frustrated with the lack of answers to the problem. At the same time, I’m not sure any one “program” will be able to address needs as large as the ones stated above. I think we all know that poverty is a complex issue and cannot be eradicated by simply throwing money or programs at the issue. That’s why I believe it is going to take an authentic movement of God’s Spirit in our city to really begin to reverse these trends.
That, in part, is why I intentionally left out “practical” solutions in the sermon on Sunday. In fact, I actually said in the sermon “Generous Living” is a series about your general disposition towards how you manage the resources in your life. So, I’m afraid the rest of the series is not going to be as practical on the front of addressing poverty as some people might want it to be. One reason is because I don’t have the answers on a systemic level. Another reason is I’m not even sure I can even help much on a personal level. Even if I could define what that looks like for you, I wouldn’t because you wouldn’t be dependent on Jesus. You don’t need me to give you a program. You need to be dependent upon Jesus and the Spirit every moment of your life. It’s as Francis Chan says in Forgotten God, “Scripture emphasizes that we should desire fruit, that we should concern ourselves with becoming more like His Son. God wants us to seek to listen to His Spirit and to obey.” The bottom line is I don’t know what it means for you to start living a more generous life. Hopefully in the midst of studying Scripture, accountability in community, and prayer you can start to figure that out.
What I do know is if we are really going to see change take place in our city, it is first going to require each of us asking the Holy Spirit to speak to our hearts in a real way. It will also require us walking in close communion with God on a daily basis so that our hearts will be softened and eyes opened to the needs right in front of us on. This is, and always will be, the first step if we are truly going to “seek the welfare of the city.”
 At Harris Creek we believe strongly that there are two types of poverty: physical and spiritual. It should go without being said that our church also feels very called to reaching those in spiritual poverty. We believe that we are called to take the Gospel to every single person in both “word” and “deed.”
 Chan, Francis. Forgotten God. (David C. Cook: Colorado Springs, CO, 2009). Pg. 88.