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Archive for July 2009

Reveal Learnings – Day Two

Reveal Learnings

Back in March 2009, we took a survey called “REVEAL” to determine the strengths and weaknesses of Christ Community Church. 25 key CCC leaders then got all of the data in a 153 page document and distilled it into key learnings. The truth is, this was very long reading and many of the results were unremarkable, but there are several things worth noting. These key learnings were prayed through, grappled with, and analyzed by the Management Team and Governing Board. Below, you’ll find some of the top learnings and the action plans related to each.

As a side note, let me say thanks to the 700+ people that gave up 20-40 minutes to take the survey. Your insight and input is extraordinarily valuable. It helped move the leaders from a position of guessing what people think via relationships and anecdotes, to a place where we have real data to act upon. So thank you!

Learning 1 – “Helps me understand the Bible in depth”

The desire that was ranked the most important for CCC people is that the church would help them to understand the Bible in-depth.

The scale goes like this:
6 = Extremely Satisfied/Important
5 = Very Satisfied/Important
4 = Satisfied/Important
3 = Somewhat Satisfied
2 = Somewhat Dissatisfied
1 = Dissatisfied

On this scale, when asked “How important is it that CCC helps me understand the Bible in-depth?”, the ranking was a 5.6, or extremely important! When asked “How satisfied are you with CCC’s role in helping you understand the Bible in-depth?”, the answer was 4.5, or half-way between satisfied and very satisfied. Now, some churches might be ok with this, but the leaders see this as extremely important and would love to see the congregation “extremely satisfied”. So, where is the breakdown?

The first place to look would be Mark’s teaching. The satisfaction ratings on Mark were as follows:
Provides sound doctrine rooted in Biblical accuracy – 5.1
Preaches inspiring sermons – 5.0
Challenges congregants to grow and take next steps – 5.1
This would indicate that the average person is very satisfied. So, the teaching is considered a great strength when it comes to doctrine and the Bible.

The next place to look would be in Small Groups. Of those people in Small Groups, 64% said they were very satisfied or extremely satisfied that their group provided in-depth study of the Bible. Another 30% were satisfied.

Although classes were not ranked, there were classes offered last year to teach through the Bible, some on Sundays, others on Tuesday mornings, and Bible Study Fellowship, or “BSF”, on Thursdays. Two Sunday evening classes were taught by our local seminary professors. The options and opportunities for small group/class Bible Studies at CCC are numerous.

How about personal spiritual practices? Only 28% of our church practices daily reflection on scripture and only 27% participate in daily Bible reading. This seems to be the biggest missing element in people’s desire for Bible depth.

So, how do we increase this?
1) Offer classes that introduce people to Bible study, personal disciplines, and teach the Bible in a strong inductive format. This will model and teach what people can do at home. New classes related to this begin in the fall.
2) Teach people from the platform about Bible reading and memorization. (See “God Made You to Stick to His Word” – May 24, 2009.)
3) Help more people plug into Journey Groups.
4) Create an integrated fall series where messages, groups and personal devotions are wrapped into a single system, thereby creating incentive, momentum and simplicity in personal devotions, message excellence and small group dynamics. This series will begin August 23.

Reveal Learnings – Day One

Reveal Learnings

Back in March 2009, we took a survey called “REVEAL” to determine the strengths and weaknesses of Christ Community Church. 25 key CCC leaders then got all of the data in a 153 page document and distilled it into key learnings. The truth is, this was very long reading and many of the results were unremarkable, but there are several things worth noting. These key learnings were prayed through, grappled with, and analyzed by the Management Team and Governing Board. Below, you’ll find some of the top learnings and the action plans related to each.

As a side note, let me say thanks to the 700+ people that gave up 20-40 minutes to take the survey. Your insight and input is extraordinarily valuable. It helped move the leaders from a position of guessing what people think via relationships and anecdotes, to a place where we have real data to act upon. So thank you!

Learning 1 – “Helps me understand the Bible in depth”

The desire that was ranked the most important for CCC people is that the church would help them to understand the Bible in-depth.

The scale goes like this:
6 = Extremely Satisfied/Important
5 = Very Satisfied/Important
4 = Satisfied/Important
3 = Somewhat Satisfied
2 = Somewhat Dissatisfied
1 = Dissatisfied

On this scale, when asked “How important is it that CCC helps me understand the Bible in-depth?”, the ranking was a 5.6, or extremely important! When asked “How satisfied are you with CCC’s role in helping you understand the Bible in-depth?”, the answer was 4.5, or half-way between satisfied and very satisfied. Now, some churches might be ok with this, but the leaders see this as extremely important and would love to see the congregation “extremely satisfied”. So, where is the breakdown?

The first place to look would be Mark’s teaching. The satisfaction ratings on Mark were as follows:
Provides sound doctrine rooted in Biblical accuracy – 5.1
Preaches inspiring sermons – 5.0
Challenges congregants to grow and take next steps – 5.1
This would indicate that the average person is very satisfied. So, the teaching is considered a great strength when it comes to doctrine and the Bible.

The next place to look would be in Small Groups. Of those people in Small Groups, 64% said they were very satisfied or extremely satisfied that their group provided in-depth study of the Bible. Another 30% were satisfied.

Although classes were not ranked, there were classes offered last year to teach through the Bible, some on Sundays, others on Tuesday mornings, and Bible Study Fellowship, or “BSF”, on Thursdays. Two Sunday evening classes were taught by our local seminary professors. The options and opportunities for small group/class Bible Studies at CCC are numerous.

How about personal spiritual practices? Only 28% of our church practices daily reflection on scripture and only 27% participate in daily Bible reading. This seems to be the biggest missing element in people’s desire for Bible depth.

So, how do we increase this?
1) Offer classes that introduce people to Bible study, personal disciplines, and teach the Bible in a strong inductive format. This will model and teach what people can do at home. New classes related to this begin in the fall.
2) Teach people from the platform about Bible reading and memorization. (See “God Made You to Stick to His Word” – May 24, 2009.)
3) Help more people plug into Journey Groups.
4) Create an integrated fall series where messages, groups and personal devotions are wrapped into a single system, thereby creating incentive, momentum and simplicity in personal devotions, message excellence and small group dynamics. This series will begin August 23.

Pessimistically Challenged

That is what I have been described over the years. I’m a “glass half full” type of guy.

However, last week – life was bleak and dark. Not sure why. Too full of days with no think time? Too many counseling appointments or counseling requests? Not enough sleep? Dissappointed in hearing of Christians shooting their wounded? Not enough exercise?

Regardless, I was bummed.

Through an event and discussions and scripture reading – I was encouraged.

The event was spending the week scampering onto my roof or running into the street at twilight to watch the International Space Station and the Shuttle glide across the sky. I don’t know, there was something mesmerizing about watching that multi billion dollar project containing 13 people look so tiny in the sky. I realized over the week that God is big, hugemongous and is not contained by anything. Everything is in Him. I knew that, but it was still hard to feel it. But I was beginning to.

Later in the week, I went on a walk with my wife and was able to think outloud on how I was feeling about life. It is always good for me to think outloud and get feedback from my soul mate. I also was able to share with the men’s group on Friday how I was feeling – they encouraged me as only guys can with their teasing, humor and pat on the back. I was feeling better.

Then, Friday I read, meditated and journaled on:

Psalm 8.3 “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?”
Psalm 42.5-6 “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”

Realizing that God is mindful of me and that my hope is in God touched my soul. Thankfully I had people to talk to about it and let God speak to my soul through His Word.

Do you have community and deep friendships to share life together?
Do you go to the Bible for comfort and encouragement?

On the journey,
Steve Walters
CCC-Sarpy Campus Pastor

Feeling Small and Loved

9:31pm at 19 degrees off the Northern horizon for three minutes.

Those instructions made me climb on the roof of my house last night to look for the space shuttle Endeavoour and the International Space Station in the sky. I saw it.

Here you had a creation by man that has cost millions and millions of dollars over many, many years scooting through the sky at 17,500 mph with 13 people inside. I couldn’t take my eyes off of this bright blip as it raced from horizon to horizon.

Watching it made me smile, feel small and feel loved.

I smiled with pride seeing man’s ingenuity demonstrated and visible from miles and miles away.

I felt small because even with all of man’s ingenuity and kajillions of dollars – it doesn’t hold a candle to what are orbiting this solar system.

I felt loved knowing that God spoke the world into place and yet formed me in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139.13-17 says:
“You [God] made my whole being; you formed me in my mother’s body. I praise you because you made me in a amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, you saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in your book before I was one day old. God, your thoughts are precious to me. They are so many!”

May you feel loved today. If you don’t… feel free to come and sit on my roof and see God’s love!

On the journey,
Steve Walters
Campus Pastor
CCC-Sarpy
stevew@cccomaha.org

Life Long Learners

I mentioned in my post below on Leading the Dream that its important to be a learner! Being a learner means you get informed and you stay informed about the most important social justice issues of your city.

How do you do that? Here’s a great place to start – Gary Haugen’s book Good News About Injustice. Haugen writes as a champion of justice issues in various international contexts. His ministry sends teams of people to places where injustice is rampant. Teams of people who intervene and advocate for just treatment in the face of things like child labor abuses or sex trafficing.

One of the most valuable sections of his book are the helpful appendices at the back of the book with lists of web-sites and reading resources to help you stay sharp. Here’s a sample of what you’ll find:

Appendix 1 – Thirty One Ways you and Your Youth Group can Promote and Do Justice (things like visit InterNational Justice Mission’s website and sign up for a confidential prayer partner, explore local immigrant advocacy groups in your community, invite a speaker in to address your group on specific needs in your community, raise $500 to free a child from illegal bonded labor, participate in missions trips, etc).

See the Get Involved on International Justice Mission’s web-site.

Appendix 2 – Suggested Internet Sites (everything from IJM’s web site to Voice of the Martyrs, University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, to Human Rights Internet. See IJM website on the Resources tab.

Appendix 4 is gold! Book and Web Resource Guide. Book recommendations and summaries that you’ll find helpful in stocking your library with the right stuff to challenge and keep you digging deeper.

Is God Colorblind?

Back to my Encourage One Another note. Part of the frustration we feel in taking about social justice issues is how messy it can get. Many who have tried and tried to make an impact get tired of talking about it… get tired of trying things and seeing little results… get tired of all the guilt that surfaces when we focus on it.

Colorblindness is a messy word to toss around in the conversation. On the one hand if a person means that how we judge each other should not be based on color, that’s a true statement. We need a whole lot of that in our world to get anywhere in the discussion. We need a healthy sense of overlooking the distinctions in order to get along, in order to work together, in order to address issues and build a better tomorrow.

However, colorblindness as our only strategy for figuring out what’s going on is actually dangerous! If in response to the disparities that still exist in our city, we simply say “It doesn’t matter what color you are,” then you just sweep the picture under the rug and move on. You have to ask the color question otherwise you don’t do anything about the fact that the vast majority of those stuck in poverty in our city are of a specific ethnic identity. You also blur the lines between those who are still hurting and those who are living a relatively advantaged experience. In the book of Acts chapter 6, the ethnic identities of widows being overlooked mattered a great deal to God and the early church. It was such a big deal that the ministry of God’s word was literally shut down over it. Colorblindness did not help the early church solve that critical impasse.

The second reason colorblindness is a false lure is that it does an injustice to the diversity which God creates. Why would God create such diversity only to tell us to ignore it! We’re to enjoy it! If we’re too quick to sweep cultural differences under the rug we may be saying “I don’t care about the diversity God’s created – it’s too hard to appreciate and relate to. I’ll take my world monochrome, thank you!”

I really don’t think God is colorblind. He loves what he creates. He creates in titanic proportions of diversity. He creates diversity and redeems it in his son Jesus. That’s what Kingdom Color is about!

Let's Keep Talking

As you can tell from the anonymous nature of people’s comments, getting down to the level of our gut feelings about race is not easy. Let me dispel something for the person who commented on my last post. I agree that the blog IS an extension of the message we’re delivering from God’s word at CCC. The “note of encouragement” below was not posted to gain sympathy for my hurt feelings. That’s not really what’s happening. What I think may be happening, though, is a misunderstanding about the message I’d like to talk about. I’d like the opportunity to extend the dialog till we’ve got some clarity about it. Why would I “dare use” my own blog for anything else? My apologies to anyone who thinks I’m trying to get others to sympathize with me! Maybe we can keep the conversation at a higher altitude.

This Is Difficult to Talk About!

 The above “Note of Encouragement” wound up in my mailbox on Monday morning in response to our Kingdom Color Series and my message in particular. They tell preachers to never gage how they feel about ministry on Monday mornings. I suppose this kind of note is why that’s the case. I’ll let you read it here. We’ll talk about it in my next post. I think the person responding like this has missed more than one critical point of my message. I’m curious if you have a reaction to it. Here’s what my nameless brother wrote me in case you can’t read the writing in the image:

Tim,
That was the most depressing liberal message, that I have ever heard at this church. Thank you for the condemning messages the last two weeks. MLK taught that we should judge each other by their conduct, not by the color of their skin. God doesn’t view us based on the color of our skin.”

Maybe we should change the header on our comment cards…

Back Yard Bible Club and You

I want to thank you for the privilege of being a part of Christ Community Church. I saw ministry at work last week in Beaver Lake. I saw the White’s open their home to the neighborhood families to “bring the church to them.” The 18 children who participated in the week experienced God’s love in a big back yard. The games, songs, activities and lessons all pointed to how much God loved and cared for each of them.

I also saw a block party on Friday that was fun, relaxing and showing God’s love in a different way. There wasn’t a lesson, except in serving the neighborhood with a free barbeque of hamburgers, hot dogs and all the trimmings. Kids played games and all received prizes. Parents were able to meet the leaders and the White’s over a meal. I drove away with the Block Party team sweaty, smelling like a barbeque, but smiling and thankful for a chance to serve God alongside such a caring, loving church body.

On the journey,
Steve Walters
CCC-Sarpy Campus Pastor

The Power of a Picture

In Sunday’s message we made reference to a photograph of one of those ugly, dark events that plagues our vision of racial healing. There was no mention made of when that event happened. Wonder of wonders that this morning when I looked at the cover story of the Omaha World Herald I noticed the very same picture!

If you want the background on what happened check out the article yourself entitled “Lest we Forget our History”. Its easy to think that perhaps the worst race relations uprisings took place somewhere in the deep South, but our city of Omaha has it’s own history we are still struggling to reconcile.

The most amazing thing about the picture is how it hits you when you see the whole photo un-cropped! If you do a little research on it you’ll find it, but realize it is a picture of horrific brutality. Once you see the whole picture the most jarring thing is the expression on people’s faces. You can look it up on Wikipedia article if you want all the details.