August 25, 1999

Spring Woods Church
reaches past its 'comfort zone'

___By Ken Camp
___Texas Baptist Communications
___HOUSTON--Spring Woods Baptist Church in Houston makes its facility available to three other congregations, offers job fairs to help low-income residents in the surrounding neighborhood find employment and sponsors three apartment ministries.
___It's not exactly what some might expect from an established, upper-middle-income congregation that draws about 250 worshippers on a given Sunday.
___"We've concentrated our efforts on reaching other people instead of staffing programs for ourselves," said pastor C.O. Herchenhahn.
___It hasn't always been a comfortable process, Herchenhahn admits. But it's a deliberate journey that the church has made beyond its comfort zone.
___"We're going to minister in our community, not just play around with faith," he said.
___For Spring Woods that community not only includes the comfortable homes of its members, but also government-subsidized multi-housing facilities within a block of the church's eight-acre campus.
___The week leading up to Easter, 78 members of Spring Woods distributed 2,000 "Jesus" videos in the area near their church.
___Along with the videotapes, they delivered information about a Saturday evening contemporary church that was starting services in Spring Woods' gym.
___The congregation, which had been meeting as a house church, uses Spring Woods' facility, and the children of its members are included in the host church's Royal Ambassadors, Girls in Action, Mission Friends and youth programs. Otherwise, it is completely independent of Spring Woods.
___A Korean congregation and a Hispanic church with a thriving English as a Second Language ministry also meet at Spring Woods.
___"We're doing our best to use the facility seven days a week," Herchenhahn said.
___But the church's ministries are not limited to those offered at the church facility. Sandra Smith from Spring Woods coordinates the church's three apartment ministries. One is geared toward senior adults who are practically homebound. The other two are directed toward children and youth.
___As part of the youth-oriented apartment ministries, Nora Borhan, a school librarian and member of Spring Woods, directs a "kid's club," after-school tutoring and a program that teaches life skills.
___Most of the teenagers at Spring Woods did not grow up at the church, attending with their parents. More than half of the youth department's members previously were unchurched.
___That is not necessarily a fact that makes everyone in the congregation comfortable, Herchenhann acknowledges. But most members recognize it's part of being obedient to Christ's commands.
___It's also in keeping with the Texas 2000 vision adopted by Texas Baptists. That emphasis includes the goal of sharing Jesus with every Texan by the end of the year 2000 and developing "Great Commission churches" for all people in the state.
___"Some of our folks are really coming to understand what the Great Commission is all about," the pastor said. "They are understanding that everybody can have a hands-on ministry experience."


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