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Archive for August 2010

That Big Logo

“But you will recieve power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.” -Jesus last words on planet earth as recorded in Acts 1:8

As followers of Jesus, we are on a mission. Filled by the amazing presence of the Holy Spirit, we are guided into truth, transformed by love, and given hope for our future. In Acts, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit to do the supernatural… healings, prison breaks, thousands of conversions, faceoffs with governing officials… and the worlds biggest movement was born! The ripple effects are still being felt to this day!

Our logo reflects this mission and power from God. Most people recognize that it is the three C’s – Christ, Community, and Church. But it is organized in such a way that we can see one life, filled by the Holy Spirit, has ripple effects that can multiply exponentially. One church, filled by the Holy Spirit, has ripple effects that can change a city or change the world.

The genesis of the logo comes directly from Jesus’ last words in another way as well. Jesus told his followers to be his witnesses in concentric circles – the city of Jerusalem, the regions of Judea and Samaria (the next bigger circle…a land mass about the size of New Jersey), and the final huge circle… to the ends of the earth! I am so glad that the disciples followed this model. There is a church in Omaha, NE because of 2000 years of faithfulness to this mission.

We too, are to represent Christ in a similar manner. We are to be a witness, and influence, a kingdom outpost… in our immediate environment (Omaha, or Bellevue, or Papillion, or Blair…), then in our county (The Omaha/Council bluffs metro) and again to the ends of the earth. Our logo reminds us of the concentric circles of our mission to the city, state and world!

This has been our mission, our philosophy and our dream for 89 years. I pray that every time you encounter the CCC logo, you will remember the last words of Jesus and the mission he has left you on!

***Special thanks to David Holt for this picture from his Facebook posts!

Why are there so many World Religions?

We’ve been dealing with Religious Pluralism in Gathering this month as a part of our Maybe Series. The question always comes up – usually with the following unspoken assumption: If there’s only one way to God why do we have so many religions? Couldn’t God have kept the profusion of options to a minimum and help humanity get on the same page? Couldn’t God have sent a himself to every culture at different points in time to accomplish what Jesus did in first century Palestine? I’ve had more than one Chinese Christian ask me “How come God did not send Jesus to China instead of to a tiny nation in the Middle East?

In the first place, if there really is only one God, he can’t be held responsible for what people are fully responsible for. If there is one God, there is the strong likelihood that multiple Gods (or gods) have been created by people and put in the place of God himself as substitutes for the one, real God.

The Christian scriptures are clear in pointing out that our tendency to create things is part of what it means to be made in God’s image. The confusion comes when our capacity to create replaces our relational connection to God. We become idol-makers trying to please the gods instead of worshipers serving the one true, living God himself. Instead of cleaning out the house of idols, someone came along and said “let’s just pretend these are real and see what happens.”

Isaiah 43 tells us exactly what God thinks of this. Give it a read. Loud and clear – idols are nothing. There is only one God. He’s not amused that we worship our own creativity. If for some reason he felt he had to take responsibility to animate our idols he’d have a very unwanted full time job.

Because he gives us the dignity of choice, he obligates us to the unpleasant consequences of those choices for as long as we insist on being in control. The only thing idols give us in the end… is control. Man making God over in his image instead of accepting the exact opposite arrangement.

The easier way out for God is plan A. “I think I’ll keep being God on my own terms”, says Yahweh. “Once you come to your senses come on back and take me up on my offer.”

Good luck with that World Religions quiz. Give me a shout if you need the answers.

How well did we respond to Haiti?

Last year when the terrible earthquake happened in Haiti, the Christian & Missionary Alliance responded by setting up a fund to which people could donate to assist with relief and development. So what were the results? How well did we respond to this country in great need?

The C&MA raised nearly $1.7 million for Haiti, and the largest donating church was CCC. I don’t share that so we can be proud, yet instead be excited about what God continues to do IN and THROUGH the people at CCC.

I made a personal call to Phil Skellie, who is the Director of CAMA Services, which is the relief and development arm of the C&MA. When I spoke with him, he had actually just recently returned from a trip to Haiti, and his insights were interesting.

  • A big problem in Haiti now is too much relief. So many organizations have provided not just basic food and water, but also many other kinds of assistance. This hurts the Haitian businesses who also sell these goods because people will not buy what they can get for free.
  • Other organizations are sending teams from America and other countries to assist with rebuilding, but in many cases they are rebuilding without involving the Haitians. Instead, what the Haitians need are jobs.

The C&MA quickly decided to take a different approach, which would be less focused on relief efforts and more focused on future development. The bulk of the $1.7 million will get spent over the next few years to focus on home reconstruction (using methods that will withstand earthquakes), job creation and training, and agricultural projects.

I believe this is a great strategy. It’s much better to help the Haitians help themselves, rather than continue to make them dependent on the generousity of others.

So the C&MA has spent just under $300,000 so far in Haiti, and here is a breakdown of how that was spent, for those of you who are accountant types.

  • $141,300 went for food, water, and shelter provided through partner agencies
  • $43,715 went for survey trips and direct relief to Haitian churches in the C&MA
  • $10,425 went for short-term teams to provide training in post-traumatic stress counseling, construction, and project management
  • $89,105 went for construction equipment, food-for-work payments, and travel

Thank you for your caring and generousity to the people of Haiti. It’s great to be part of a church and denomination who continues to show the love of Jesus to people in need.

Double Your Impact Vote

The vote is in….. and the tension is rising. We walked into church this morning with some big questions on our mind…now they are all answered

Will there be passion enough to turn vision into reality?

Will people be willing to go on a spiritual adventure?

Are we willing to sacrifice for the vision?

Will we trust God to provide for our needs?

Will we be radically inclusive, always looking for one more person to reach with the gospel?

Will we give ourselves to lead and serve and invite one more to lead and serve?

Do we think that God is in this vision?

Are we going to be people of faith?

This morning, we had the opportunity to view the vision that God has called us to. It is a big vision. The vision is to “Double Our Impact”. This is a huge challenge for a church of 3000 in Omaha NE. Essentially, it will create improvements in the building at Old Mill, including fixing the facility, upgrading technology, improving space and building a multi-purpose facility that connects our buildings. Our dream is to grow to 4000 in Old Mill and see over 1500 come to faith in Christ and get baptized.

It also includes launching four new sites of Christ Community Church in the next five years across the Omaha Metro. These six total sites should have somewhere around 2000 people attending at all of our non-Old Mill campuses in 2015.

Finally, a vision has been formed to launch leadership development for Christian leaders in China that will empower 1000 people to experience Christian leadership development and an endowment for pastors in Mali that will help 100 pastors every year to experience Bible School. This is in addition to the work that we are already doing in Mali and China with Orphans, Infants, Kids and the Hospital.

So the leaders brought this vision to the people for a congregational affirmation. It is imperative for the leaders to not only hear from God and cast a vision, but listen to the heartbeat of the congregation. And the congregation has spoken.

The Members Voted on the motion: 31 “No” and 894 “Yes!” – Motion Carries…

The Regular attenders Affirmed the vision: 21 “No” and 1006 “Yes!” – Momentum Builds…

Totals: 52 “No” and 1900 “Yes” – A total of 97% Affirm the Vision!

Friends, we are about to embark on an era of our church that will be a ride we will never forget. God will do amazing things in your life and through you as you hold tight to him. Begin to pray today: God, do whatever it takes IN me to accomplish your will THROUGH me. You will find God to be more faithful than you ever knew him to be. And you will always remember this era of your spiritual journey with great fondness for the way God was at work in you.

“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” – William Carey, Missionary Pioneer

Roddy Chong!

Hey Friends-

Roddy Chong is coming! My guess is this is not a name you are familiar with, but Roddy is one of the best pop-rock-violinists of our day. He has played for President Bush, the Queen of England, Oprah, the Pope and Bono. Now, he is coming to Omaha to play for YOU and your friends.

Now, when you think of a violinist, you might think that Roddy will be a tame, sit-down, slow-moving contemplative. Nothing can be further from the truth. Whether he is playing with Shania Twain, Celeine Deion or as the star of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Roddy is full of life and energy… always moving and often sprinting across the stage as he plays. Check out this video of Roddy’s performances.

Roddy Chong Promo

You can expect a fantastic concert/speaking combination that will be very life-giving. Not only is Roddy a phenomenal violinist, but he is also an inspirational speaker. His story will touch the hearts of you and your friends and motivate you to trust God in deeper ways than you ever have before.

Come on September 5 to the combined services in the worship center at Old Mill at 9 and 10:45. Bring a handful of friends and let’s raise the roof!

Can We Trust the Bible?

Ok , we’re dealing with the reliability of the Bible these days in Gathering. How can we trust the message of the Bible when the original writings are no longer available to us? Couldn’t the message get so corrupted over time and through all the translations it’s undergone from one language to the next?

Suppose for example that you translate the following inspired text:

Gavin Johnson is the most intelligent staff member at his church. Everyone loves to sit at his feet. He is very humble and incredibly good looking!

As an original autograph, no one would doubt it’s authenticity. Especially if Gavin Johnson really exists (he does). And especially if the author (me) is an eye-witness (he is pretty dang good looking).

Suppose we simulate the translation process using our friend Google Translate. Try it yourself! Don’t trust me. I’m biased, remember, and could be trying to start my own cult of Gavin Johnson worship. Google Translate

If you take the original message and translate it to German hopefully you’ll get the same message. But there might be some shade of meaning lost in the translation. Does “sit at his feet” mean the same thing in German as it does English?

Well, suppose some of the people who regularly translate my blog into German (so they can keep up with Gathering) become impassioned about the new Gavin Johnson cult. In their missionary zeal they want to take this inspired text to the Swahili-speaking people of Burundi.

Of course you how the story goes, Burundians were amazed to hear the good news about Gavin Johnson and couldn’t wait to tell the Estonian diamond miners who for years have infiltrated their culture in hopes that their conversion would result in socio-economic liberation.

Curious about the translation process, Gavin Johnson himself wanted to see if the integrity of the original autograph was still in tact after all those translations. In a flash of brilliance it dawns on him, “I’ll just take the Estonian textus receptus as it is, and translate it back to its original language!” Here’s what he found after hours of painstaking work with Google Translate:

“Gavin Johnson has more understanding of his staff Church. Everyone likes to sit on your feet. It is typically, an incredibly beautiful.”

No kidding.

This is actually what will happen to a text if it is subjected to such an open-ended translation process. Fortunately the Bibles we have today are translated from the original languages of ancient Hebrew and Koine Greek directly into English (or German or Swahili or Estonian). There is no game of “telephone tag” happening in the process. We can be confident that language translation has not significantly compounded the original meaning.

If the process by which we have received our Bible were like the above example, there could very well be significant theological compromise. Notice how in our example the translation process began with a marvelous impression of Gavin Johnson but ends with a church of people who sit on their feet! It’s no longer clear that Gavin Johnson is the most intelligent staff member at his church. Where has his humility gone? No direct connection between Gavin and stunning good looks! What a rip off! I’d be mad right now if I was Gavin!

Good thing the internet came along well after God gave us scripture!

New Short-term Mission Opportunities

Here are a few new short-term mission opportunities this winter. Many more will be coming in 2011 but this is a good start.

Nurses need in Mali

From December 3 – 12 CCC will be sending a team to work with CCC missionaries Dusty & Julia Reynolds at their Sababu Manufacturing business.

This team will consist of one (1) Family Practice Physician and three to five (3-5) Nurses. These medical professionals will provide medical services to the employees and their immediate families, estimated at between 100 and 150 people of all ages. Services will include items such as physicals, vaccinations, blood sugar tests, health education, and creating medical records for patients.

At this point we are recruiting Nurses – so if you are interested in learning more, contact Craig Walter at craigw@cccomaha.org / 938-1575.

Children’s Ministry Workers needed in Peru

From January 8 – 15, CCC is sending a team of eight to ten people, led by Pastor Steve Walters, to work at the Peru Field Forum. A Field Forum is a time when all the missionaries come together for a week of worship, refreshment, and learning.

The Peru mission field is led by CCC missionaries Allen & Amy George and they have asked us to lead the Field Forum in 2011. While Steve is preaching to the missionaries a team from CCC will minister in various ways to approximately 24 children and young teens over the course of 5 days.

If you are interested in learning more about this ministry, contact Craig Walter at

craigw@cccomaha.org / 938-1575.

Construction Workers at New Day Orphanage in Zambia

CCC is making individuals aware of an opportunity to travel with a team from the Omaha area to Zambia, Africa from January 15 – 29. This trip will focus on the building of a new orphanage, including the construction of homes for children and missionaries as well as the dining hall.

New Day Orphanage was started in 2009 on land donated by several Zambian villages and construction is well under way. Persons experienced

in any aspect of construction will be welcome.

For information about New Day Orphanage visit www.NewDayOrphanage.org.

If you are interested and would like more information, please contact Craig Walter at craigw@cccomaha.org / 938-1575.

Ever felt like you almost believed something – but not quite?

Wanting to get word out about our next Gathering series that starts this upcoming Sunday. We’ve recently been exploring reasons why people aren’t quite convinced Christianity is for them.

For many, Christianity is plausible, but not convincing. People ofen don’t have an anti-Christian attitude about belief. They don’t hate God or Christians. They may in fact even want to believe it, but feel they can’t make belief work.

During the next couple of months we’ll be exploring some of these kinds of barriers. Week one we’ll deal with the Bible and why difficulties understanding and trusting it’s reliability and authority cut people off from confident belief. Week Two we’ll consider what is at the heart of Christianity’s relationship to other faiths. Why is it that Christianity has an exclusive claim on the way to God. Does it really have to be that way? If Christianity were just open to other faiths, wouldn’t it make it more attractive. Exclusivism is such a turn off.

We’ll be taking a break from Gathering on August 22nd and will return for a third important barrier. Maybe, more people would give themselves to Christianity if it could really deal with the suffering they are experiencing.

Come on out to Gathering. Bring your questions and bring a friend with you. Hope we can serve you through this important conversation.

Reveal Results

Hey Everybody-

A BIG thanks to everyone who took the REVEAL survey in June. The results came in last week, and we wanted to share the most important details with you. Of 140 pages of data, we have summarized the most important things that are measured to share with you. When you fill out these surveys, the results are taken seriously and your opinion matters! You can see the statistical summary of the past three years below, with some explanations on measurement below.

Reveal Results Summary

2008-2010

Measurement 2008 2009 2010
#1 Total Score 67 71 78
#2 Lead Pastor Effectiveness n/a 73 78
#3 Preaching Effectiveness n/a 5.03 5.1
#4 Percentage “Stalled” 25% 12% 10%
#5 Percentage “Dissastisfied” 28% 22% 18%
#6 Percentage “Leaving” 18% 13% 11%
#7 Spiritual Conversations 24% 25% 25%
#8 Bible In Depth 4.2 4.3 4.7
#9 Satisfied – Sunday Svcs. 55% 63% 71%
Satisfied – Journey Grp. 48% 56% 62%
Satisfied – Serving @ Church 56% 47% 53%
Satisfied – Serve outside church 38% 41% 52%
#10 Church Role in Spiritual Growth n/a 46% 54%

*1 – This is the ultimate measurement of overall church health. It is a conglomeration of all of the scores on the survey. A score of 67 put us in the 45th percentile of all of the thousands of churches surveyed. 71 put us in the 54th percentile. 78 places us currently in the 80th percentile.

*2 – The measure of satisfaction in the Lead pastor reflects those who indicated that they were “Very Satisfied” or “Extremely Satisfied”. (Others might mark Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Somewhat Dissatisfied or Dissatisfied.)

*3 – This measure reflects an average of four key measures of preaching effectiveness. A 4 = Satisfied, 5 = Very Satisfied and 6 = Extremely Satisfied.

*4 – Those who are “Stalled” consider themselves to be personally spiritually stalled. They may or may not be dissatisfied with the church.

*5 – Those who are “Dissatisfied” are dissatisfied with the role of the church in their spiritual journey. It includes those who are “Dissastisfied”, “Somewhat Dissatisfied” and “Somewhat Satisfied”. They may or may not be stalled.

*6 – This measure reflects those who are “Definitely”, “Probably” or “Unsure” if they are leaving the church. Their reasons range from being dissatisfied with the church to moving out of town.

*7 – This measure is perhaps the most disappointing to the leadership of the church. Only one in four people at CCC have a spiritual conversation with a non-Christian 6 or more times per year.

*8 – This indicates overall satisfaction that the Bible is Taught in depth. Once again, “Satisfied” = 4, “Very Satisfied” = 5, “Extremely Satisfied” = 6.

*9-10 – Each of these is the percentage of people who are “Very Satisfied” or “Extremely Satisfied”.

Beyond these ‘most important measures’, leadership teams look at any other qualitative factors that have notable progress or decline. In this year’s survey, there was notable growth in the spiritual disciplines of solitude and stewardship. There was not notable decline in any area. Thanks again to those who took the survey!