Posts by Leo Schuster

A Season for Others

The season of Advent, which begins this Sunday, December 2, is an overtly outward-facing time of the year.  It means “coming” and reminds us that when God decided to know us, he didn’t merely talk about it from a distance. He reached out to us and came near.

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GIVING TUESDAY 2018 THANK YOU

The results of Giving Tuesday are in and I am delighted to report that you gave $213,169. Generous donors matched $100,000 of your gifts for a total of $313,169.

I am overwhelmed by this outpouring of generosity. Your gifts enable us to begin to plan our 2019 ministry year and service projects and places us in a strong position as we move into year end, typically the time of year most churches and nonprofits collect a significant portion of their budget.

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Giving Tuesday 2018

Dear City Church friend,

City Church has a great opportunity tomorrow on Giving Tuesday.

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Sermons on Social Isolation

Reflecting upon the question “what is the central challenge facing our era?” New York Times columnist David Brooks concluded, “My answer would be: social isolation.” Based on my experience serving as a pastor for over a quarter century, I think he’s correct. We’re a lonely lot. Many of us feel like people don’t really know us, and we long for deeper, safer, more life-giving relationships with others.

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Make Your Work Matter

According to recent Gallup research, sixty-seven percent of the American workforce is disengaged from their work. This is tragic, not only because of the economic implications this represents for employers and our economy, but also for the individual. We spend so much of our lives at work that when we’re disengaged in our work we’re wasting our lives.

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The Longing to Be Known

I’m excited to introduce this year’s overarching sermon theme: Knowing and Being Known. Two interlocking ideas animate this theme: the human longing to be known and the gift we’re given to know the supreme being of the universe and be known by him.

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Charter Service and Celebration

This past Sunday night marked a milestone for City Church. We officially graduated from being a church plant to being a chartered church with our own lay leaders ordained and installed into offices of service.

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First Congregational Meeting

This past Sunday marked a monumental moment in the life of City Church. At our first congregational meeting we voted to become a chartered church. Since our launch as a church plant in August 2015, we have been recognized as a mission church rather than a self-governing congregation.

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Cornerstone: A new ministry partner

City Church is passionate about starting new churches. It is central to our mission. We are a church plant, and we want to be a church that plants other churches, especially in this city that we love.

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New series begins this Sunday

Easter is a uniquely important day, but it’s far more than just a day. With his resurrection, Jesus inaugurated a new epoch characterized by hope.

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Smoke and Mirrors….or Substance?

I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of a famous expression of the Apostle Paul: “Let’s face it—if there’s no resurrection, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors!” (1 Corinthians 15:13-14, The Message).

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Explore Membership at City Church

No one should feel like they’re on the outside looking in at City Church. The church isn’t an elite club or homogenous social enclave. It should be the most welcoming place on earth, a motley mesh of humanity on mission. As the body of Christ, the church is the presence of Jesus in the world.

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Christmas 2017 at City Church

Memories and music rush to my mind this time of year. Even my earliest recollections of Christmas seem to be paired with a playlist: Drooling over the kitchen counter as my mother bakes her delicious fudge and Bing Crosby croons White Christmas in the background or shouting Feliz Navidad along with Jose Feliciano as my father and I string Christmas lights outside our home. The older I get the more heartwarming these kinds of moments are to me. For many of us no other season of the year is so richly adorned with vivid stories and songs from our past.

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Giving Tuesday 2017 Thank You

The results of Giving Tuesday are in and I am delighted to report that you gave $138,069. A generous donor matched $75,000 of your gifts for a total of $213,069.

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City Church Affiliates With ECO

Earlier this year I asked our founding core leaders to engage with me in a process of discernment about the denominational future of City Church. Over the next many months we gathered to pray, study, seek wise counsel, and discuss this. We all came to the conclusion that the best long-term fit for City Church is ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

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Money Matters Course

Money is a sensitive subject we may be reluctant to discuss with others. Jesus was not. Next to his kingdom, he spoke more often about money than any other subject. Turns out it’s integral to what it means to follow Jesus and live a meaningful life.

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New Series: Songs in the Key of Life

“Ah music,” said J.K. Rowling’s Albus Dumbeldore, wiping his eyes, “A magic beyond all we do here!” In my experience music does have almost a magical power. It has the capacity to help us connect with places deep inside our souls. It shouldn’t surprise us, therefore, that one of the most important books in the Bible and Christian practice throughout the centuries is a collection of songs.

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Healing and Hope for Houston

As we continue to endure the heartbreaking and devastating impact of Hurricane Harvey upon our city, please join me in praying for those who have suffered loss and those still at risk. May our gracious Savior care for them and be to all of us a “refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain” (Isaiah 4:6).

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Stories and Songs: Stories about Jesus

City Church’s new ministry year begins this Sunday. I’m really excited about our sermon theme for the new year: Stories and Songs. Most of the Bible is written either in narrative or poetry. Our sermons this year will be comprised of both. 

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A response to Charlottesville

The horrific events in Charlottesville on Saturday left me heartbroken and deeply disturbed. 

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City Church: Who We Are
City Church launched in August 2015 with a dream to renew Houston by bringing beauty into broken places. As a central Houston church where all are welcome, we want to be a safe place for everyone to explore the possibility of faith and the implications of it in their life. Questions of belief and unbelief are taken seriously and addressed respectfully.
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Staff Update

I am delighted to let you know that Valerie Tompson has accepted the position of Executive Director at City Church and will begin effective immediately. She will work closely with me to champion the vision and values of City Church, provide overall strategic leadership, and direct the staff in all ministry areas. We are extraordinarily blessed to have someone as talented as Valerie serve our young, growing church in this new role.

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City Kids musical theater camp

I am excited that City Church kids and friends will have the opportunity to experience musical theater camp this summer and gather in a professional theater at the new arts venue in Midtown: MATCH. The kids will be at MATCH all week, and the daily schedule will include acting, singing, crafts and a Bible lesson as they work on the musical Happily Forever After. The week will conclude with a performance by the kids at MATCH at 11:30 AM on Friday.

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New Series Begins Sunday
“We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom,” said Pulitzer prize-winning biologist, E.O. Wilson. Wisdom is essential because it helps us navigate the complexities of life in the modern world. 
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Invite someone to Easter at City Church
At City Church we’re not trying to build a church for ourselves but for our friends, neighbors, colleagues and others we know who do not share our faith. People are more open to considering visiting church on Easter than any other day of the year. We give great care to designing our entire Sunday experience with those in mind who do not already attend church. And we have a very special service planned for Easter. Would you please take the time to invite others to City Church? Do not underestimate the power of a personal invitation. Thank you very much! 
 
Here are some ways you can invite others to our Easter service: 
  • Save this digital Easter invitation to invite others via text, email or social media.
  • Share, repost and retweet photos and information about our services on FacebookInstagram and Twitter
  • RSVP to our Facebook event page, share it to your timeline and invite your connections.
  • Call or text a friend, and personally invite them to come with you to our Easter service.
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Culture, Faith and the Arts with Mako Fujimura

I’m thrilled to welcome Makoto Fujumura to a special forum at City Church on April 9 at 12 PM: "Culture, Faith and the Arts."

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A Season of Spiritual Renewal

Lent begins this week with Ash Wednesday and lasts forty days (it’s actually the forty-six days before Easter, but Sundays in Lent are not counted). It’s a season of spiritual renewal and reminds us of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. The old English word Lent means spring season. Think of it as a sort of spiritual spring cleaning or spring training. It’s an opportunity to give more focused attention to following Christ.

 

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Exploring Faith | Following Jesus
Regularly I have two kinds of conversations with people attending City Church. The first is with those who have come to church for the first time or are coming back to church.
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Overcome with gratitude

As 2016 comes to a close I am overcome with gratitude for all the Lord has done during City Church’s first full year.

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New Sermon Series - Scandalous Grace

Curious, isn’t it, the New Testament begins with a genealogical record? Christianity introduces itself to the world with what may appear to be an uninteresting, even boring literary form. Often missed, however, are the provocative elements in Matthew’s record of Jesus’ ancestry. Not only is the mere mention of five women unusual, given the paternalistic subculture of ancient Israel, but the particular stories embedded in the genealogy cryptically provide color, drama, and even juicy scandal. 

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Giving Tuesday - Thank You

The results of Giving Tuesday are in and I am delighted to report that you gave $136,750. $75,000 of your gifts were matched by a generous donor, which means a total of $211,750 was raised in a single day from ninety four people, a third of whom made their first gift to City Church!

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Giving Tuesday

UPDATE: Thanks to your generosity on #GivingTuesday, we met our matching gift goal of $75,000! 

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Dear City Church friend,

City Church has a great opportunity today.  Giving Tuesday, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, began several years ago to create a day of giving in the midst of a season of purchasing. 

 

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Thoughts On The Election

With the election now behind us, I would like to share some things that are on my heart as a pastor.

Our Vote. This has been the most contentious presidential campaign of my lifetime. Equally thoughtful and concerned people came to different conclusions in the voting booth and I respect that.  I’m passionate that City Church be an apolitical space. People from across the human spectrum need to be able to explore the possibility of faith and the implications of it without feeling they have to adopt a particular political position. Jesus was, of course, neither a Democrat nor Republican (nor American for that matter!). He said, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

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You Are What You Love
What unites every human being on the planet? Not our beliefs, of course. We live in a world torn apart by ideological differences. Nor is it cultural norms, economic or politics paradigms, or even the ubiquity of social media. The one thing we all share in common with everyone is that we’re lovers. 
 
If we want to live healthy, full lives—lives that really matter—the key, then, is to curate our hearts. 
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why would God allow evil and suffering?

Belief is a difficult thing, especially for modern people. This is a basic assumption for us at City Church. We’re not just a community for the convinced but also for the curious and spiritually conflicted as well. We want to be a genuinely safe place for anyone to process their doubts. Starting this Sunday, we’ll explore some of the most common questions people have about the Christian faith in a new sermon series called Why? Questions About Christianity.

 

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Thoughts on Racial Unrest
As a white male in a position of authority with my life having been packed with privilege, I don’t come to this subject as the expert. I'm not the expert because I have no idea what it means to experience racism first hand, to be in fear because of the color of my skin. So I want to be in a position first of listening, learning and loving. But, as the leader of City Church, the fact that I have not experienced racism first hand won’t prevent me from speaking to this issue and leading. And I believe the Lord has called me to do just that. 

 

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How long, Lord?
A New York Times/CBS News poll published Wednesday revealed seventy percent of Americans say race relations are currently bad, and six in 10 believe they're growing worse, a significant increase from just a year ago. I am heartbroken over this and the events of last week in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas. As a pastor I'm wrestling with how best to respond and what it means for me to lead and love City Church well. I plan to share briefly on Sunday some of my thoughts.  

 

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Financial Update

Can you believe we're halfway through 2016? At this point, it seems like a good time to provide a financial update for our ministry budget this year. 

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The Church in the City

Plato said the most important part of a work is the beginning. It’s when something new is being shaped into what it will be. That’s what is happening right now in the early days of City Church.

 

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Reimagining Our Work

“Meaningless! Meaningless! Utterly meaningless. What do people gain from all their labor at which they toil under the sun?” Many of us likely identify with these opening words from the ancient book of Ecclesiastes. Work occupies a great deal of our lives but often feels empty, lacking in purpose. The Scriptures, however, invite us to reimagine our work as a gift of God through which we glorify God and partner with him in building a culture that promotes human flourishing. This robust vision for the integration of faith and work are at the heart of who we want to be at City Church. 

 

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Easter opportunity

The resurrection of Jesus is the most important event in human history. On it Christianity stands or falls. The Apostle Paul said, “if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith” (1 Corinthians 15:14). But the case for the resurrection is extraordinarily strong. The empty tomb, widespread eyewitness testimony, and radically transformed lives, like Paul’s, give modern people an objective basis from which to consider the Christian faith. Not only does the resurrection make the case for Christianity compelling, it offers unique hope for people trying to navigate the complexities of modern life. For these reasons and more, Easter is the heart of Christianity.

 

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To Be Fully Human

We pray because we’re human. While we all need moments of solitude, studies consistently show that isolation from others is detrimental to our health. If that’s true interpersonally, how much more so with the One who made us? Prayer opens up communication with God and gives us a lifeline to the world beyond the walls of this world.

 

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FAQ: Membership at City Church

I’m really excited to be offering our first Exploring Membership seminar in early March. This is your first step if you’re interested in becoming a charter member of City Church. Click here for dates, times, and locations.

 

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Skeptics Welcome

I have a confession to make: I’m a doubter. I believe in Jesus. I love him deeply. But, if I’m honest, it’s sometimes difficult for me to believe. Because I wrestle with my faith, I find it wonderfully refreshing that Jesus is not put off by those of us with questions, who struggle to believe.

 

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Can a new year really change us?

If you’re like me, it’s easy to have a jaded view of New Year’s resolutions after failing to follow through on them for decades. While there’s nothing magical about the turn of a calendar, a New Year may just give that psychological boost we need to make a fresh start in an important area of life.

 

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A note from Leo Schuster

As we approach the end of the year, I stand in awe of what the Lord has done to birth City Church. What a remarkable beginning: an extraordinary launch team of volunteers and staff, hundreds of new people who have worshiped with us, a strong spirit of service and community, and the phenomenal music that has lifted our hearts weekly to the Lord in worship. How humbling it is to witness our Savior’s astounding faithfulness. Through City Church he is bringing the beauty of Christ into brokenness.

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Good news to share

Since ancient times, Christians in the west have recognized the four weeks before Christmas as the season of Advent. From the Latin Adventus, meaning “coming,” it refers to the coming of Jesus into the world. It is an invitation to reflect on the rich origin of Christmas when the long-anticipated Christ entered the world in the humility of a manger in Bethlehem. It also looks forward to his coming again in great glory when the Prince of Peace will usher in universal and enduring harmony. 

 

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Happy Thanksgiving from the Schusters

Happy Thanksgiving! What an extraordinary year it has been for us at City Church. We have so much for which to be thankful.

 

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The Hospitable Community

Jesus is full of surprises. When he was passing through Jericho one day, he stopped and invited himself over to the home of Zacchaeus, a social outcast. This audacious move was deeply offensive to many who despised the chief tax collector: “He’s gone to be the guest of a sinner,” they scoffed. But it dramatically changed Zacchaeus’ life.

 

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Beauty will save the world

In his book, Beauty Will Save the World, Brian Zahnd suggests, “Christianity that is deeply enchanted by Christ’s beauty…has the opportunity to present to a skeptical and jaded world an aspect of the gospel that has been too rare for too long.”

 

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Thoughts from Launch Sunday

"What just happened?” That’s what my wife, Ellen, and I kept saying to one another after Sunday’s launch of City Church. We know it’s going to take time for us to fully process what it all means, but for now we are simply stunned and in awe.

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10 Things You Need To Know

As we approach the weekend, skim through this list of 10 things you need to know, and make sure you’re in-the-know on all details.

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Countdown to Launch

The countdown has begun! With less than four weeks until the launch of City Church, we are in all-out preparation mode. Extremely exciting times as the adventure is about to begin in earnest.

 

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Wimbledon, World Cup and New Churches

Watching Wimbledon, my favorite sports fortnight of the year, and the Women’s World Cup (go team USA) this week reminded me once again of the difference between individual and team sports. On the tennis court you are all alone. It’s up to you. YOU have to figure out how to overcome the obstacles before you.

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Snapshots from City Church @ Saint Arnold Brewing Co.

What a fun night it was! Take a #behindthescenes peek at City Church's event at Saint Arnolds Brewery. 

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Josh Moore Joins City Church as Worship Arts Director

We are delighted to announce that Josh Moore will be joining City Church as our Worship Arts Director.

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Loving the City to Life

Sometimes we’re led to unexpected places …. like the launch of the City Church blog!  Welcome, by the way.

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