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Archive for July 2011

Dr. John Stott – an amazing legacy lives on.

Returned from vacationing out of town last week to read the news of John Stott passing away this week at the age of 90. Just thought I’d offer a few thoughts on this man’s tremendous influence in my life and the ministry I formerly worked for before coming to Christ Community (Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship USA).

A couple of links here might give you a bit of background if you’re not familiar with Dr. Stott. He is roughly compared in notoriety and influence in England and Europe to the American evangelist Billy Graham.

Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship’s page on John Stott

Memorial page on Dr. Stott by Chris Write of Langham Trust

Christianity Today’s article

The first exposure I had to John Stott was through all the promotion I kept hearing about him from my InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff members when I was a freshman in college. The first time actually heard Dr. Stott was at an Urbana missions conference in 1984. I read multiple books by Stott starting with Basic Christianity, then his commentary on The Sermon on the Mount, The Cross of Christ, etc, etc. He writings are so well thought through, deeply biblical and readable. He was truly a mentor via proxy for me through his towering influence among older InterVarsity Staff and through his writings.

Probably the coolest thing about Dr. Stott I discovered about him when I was in seminary at Trinity. He has for decades devoted the resources earned from his writings and teaching to a training endeavor called the Langham Trust. He’s given his life to not only to preaching and teaching God’s word with integrity and power, but rather than build his own empire of fame, he’s invested in young preachers on a global scale.

As an example of someone with multiplied impact in his ministry there’s perhaps no finer example of Dr. Stott. His influence will live on for decades and decades as men and women ignited by his vision for preaching God’s word minister in his footsteps. I’d like to see how my tiny footprints fit inside his as I teach God’s word for the rest of my ministry years. Thank you, God for giving Dr. Stott to the body of Christ and for his tireless faithfulness to Jesus!

Building the Online Campus Team

Even though the Online Campus doesn’t launch until January 2012, we’re already starting to put together a team to help with the campus. There are a lot of great things that could be with the Online Campus. Here are some of the roles we are looking to fill on the team. Soon, we will have more specifics with each role and hope to have the time commitment it would be for each of them.

Some of these roles you can be trained in, so don’t think you can’t volunteer if you look at this list and feel you can’t contribute. As well, if you have any ideas or suggestions, just let us know! We’re always looking for creative and effective ways to reach people and get them connected with Jesus and what God is doing in and through Christ Community Church.

Director – Manages the video feeds and graphics that are streamed live to the Online Campus.

Coder – Create/Write custom code for the Online Campus Facebook Page. We’d like to have some customized tabs on the Facebook Page that make it a destination for people when they browse Facebook.

Social Artists – Converse and interact with people who post in the chatroom and steering the conversation back to Jesus and/or the big idea of the message. It also means talking to people throughout the week via email, Twitter, Facebook, phone or something else.

Prayer Ninjas – Obvious, we need people praying. Who knows what kind of situation you could find yourself praying for, on a Sunday morning with the Online Campus, so you need to be able to adapt on the fly. You’ll be praying and talking with people during the service, and praying for people during the week. (One thing that will help us with praying for Online Campus people is a service called Mobile Amen. It’s something that former CCC Pastor Joe Darago has set up at his church in Arizona.)

Videographer – Films different pieces for the Online Campus that will be played before the Online Campus service starts. Needs to be proficient with a camera and lighting.

Editor – Edit video that is shot for the Online Campus. Right now, we are thinking the video pieces will be shot late in the week, so this person will have to be able to do a quick turnaround with editing. These edited pieces will usually play before the Online Campus service starts.

Mentors/Leaders – Individuals who can disciple others and model to them what it means to be a Christian. We’ll need people of all ages and backgrounds. When we start more formal online communities and groups, you’ll be helping to lead them.

Producer – This person oversees everything on a Sunday morning with the Online Campus. They make sure people and things are in place so the campus runs smoothly. More often than not, I’ll be filling this role. However, there will be times during the year where I’ll be gone, or I’m doing something ministry-related like Baby Dedications. They can jump into any of the roles on a Sunday morning if need be.

If you’re interested in helping out, or have an idea/suggestion, just email me by clicking here.

Online Campus: How It All Began (Part 4 / Actuality)

If it’s just us showing off how we can use technology and innovation, then we’re being proud by trying to draw attention to ourselves.
-Me

(Click here to read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3)

When I first started out as a missionary, email was starting to take hold as a communication tool for everyone. I was leveraging it in my communications with supporters and friends. A number of fellow missionaries thought I was silly/mad for using technology that minimized the personal touch of a handwritten letter or a long form newsletter.* I ignored the criticisms and plunged ahead with using email as a primary communication tool with people. I was able to interact with people, from the field, in a more realtime format than ever before.

*Because nothing says personal quite like a generic newsletter with someone’s signature added in ink.

Two years later, I was asked to lead a seminar to fellow missionaries about how to use email.* It sounds a bit ridiculous now, but I still remember explaining to other missionaries about addressing emails and general protocols with it.

I bring that up because people have a tendency to doubt emerging technologies. We fear the unknown. Once the technology has been accepted, we often look back and wonder how we ever lived life without such technology.

CCC team impact orphans in Guatemala

From July 6 – 17 CCC had a team go to Guatemala and minister in the orphanage run by CCC workers Norman & Vickie Sutton. Below is a recap of their trip as told by their team leader Kathy Ramaekers.

The CCC Team

On completion of our short term missions trip to the Hogar de Vida orphanage in Guatemala, I believe that all of our team members would agree that we had a life changing experience. We spent nine days at the orphanage providing vacation bible school lessons, playing with the 30 children and young adults that live there and assisting with some work projects at the home. Dr. Lannie and Carol Weak were able to provide dental services for the children by completing over 160 fillings and 14 extractions along with other dental care and preventative treatments. We were also able to provide a ministry to some surrounding villages at two schools and a church plant by completing a hair washing and styling ministry and a skit that demonstrated the power of Christ’s love for us.

playing with the children

We were amazed at the loving, trusting spirits of the children at the home and how they interacted and worked together as an extended family. On a daily basis we witnessed older children helping and playing with younger children without being asked to and an older thirty something Down’s syndrome adult assisting a physically challenged young adult like she was her own personal responsibility. It is obvious that the orphanage is more of a home than a “facility”. Several of the team members admitted that we were expecting to feel badly for the children in the home, but as we became more aware of the poverty and the brokenness in the surrounding villages, we came to know how much the Lord is working in the home by providing food, love, nurturing, and most importantly; opportunities to know the Lord and to go to school.

dental care for all the children

The Lord was faithful during this entire time by helping us to grow together as a team, by keeping us safe during some pretty treacherous road trips in/out of the villages, by blessing us with safe and hassle free plane travel and by really helping all of us to grow personally in our relationship with Him. We had many opportunities to see the Lord working through us to bless the children and the staff that are working there.

We also had the amazing opportunity to work alongside Norman and Vickie Sutton who are such a blessing to the home and the children. They are a wonderful example of regular people who the Lord is using to do a tremendous work because of their faith and their obedience to Him. I know that because of our experience during this short term missions trip, many of us have deepened our relationship with the Lord and will be looking for our next step in a closer walk with Him.

DYI update on training leaders in China

Pastor Tim Perry teaching

As part of the CCC Double-Your-Impact vision we have created a 3-way partnership to train Christian leadership principles to Christian leaders in China. Below is the latest report on this years progress.

Through the partnership with CCC, Global Partners in Hope (GPiH), and Crown College, two classes were conducted during the month of June in Beijing, China. Class one was a repeat of the first class from April on Transformational Leadership. Sixty-one students attended the class taught by Dr. Donald Young and Pastor Tim Perry. A second class was taught by David Carl, a U.S. businessman and ministry leader living in Beijing. The second class, entitled Team Building, was attended by 45 students, some of which had also taken the first class.

Both classes saw a mixture of business owners and church leaders, and some of the leaders even brought with them company employees. Ninety percent of those attending are Christians working in local churches in Beijing. The course, Transformational Leadership, really equips local leaders to teach these principles in both the work place and to their local churches. The students represent leadership from 15-20 Beijing churches with an average church size of 70 people attending these churches. Today, based upon the figure we have, we can estimate conservative figures of people impacted through these two courses is around 1,000 people in local churches.

Here are some statistics about these courses so far:

Attendance: Students enrolled in the program to date are: Transformational Leadership 110, Team Building 45.

Demographics: Fifty percent male, fifty percent female, age group 25-40. All these students are living and working in Beijing. Ninety percent of the students have finished their undergraduate degree, primarily in business.

Outcome: Students have already begun implementing the material into their work plan and local church. One student has taken his learning back to his home church and has begun teaching transformational leadership to other local leaders, and having them walk through a personal growth plan. The personal growth plan is a new concept for many of the Chinese and is challenging for them. Many of the students continue to meet together as a cohort to discuss the topic of transformational leadership and team building.

Learnings: The program is on target to teach seven more classes by the end of the year. Two more classes are being finalized and will be tested, Strategic Leadership and Multiplying Leaders.

Crown will be sending their curriculum specialist to Beijing in September to review and evaluate the course work being taught. We are continuing to refine the class work and measure learning outcomes from the curriculum. We are looking at changing the format from a weeklong evening class format to an intense three-day format.

Overall, we are further along in the program than we imagined we would be at this point, and the student interest continues to grow with each class.

a great CNN story about Chinese house churches

With all the ministry we have going on in China, this video story about house churches in China by CNN caught my attention.

Crack down on house churches in China

Online Campus: How It All Began (Part 3 / Statistics)

I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.
-1 Corinthians 9:22b-23 (ESV)

(Click here for Part 1 and Part 2)

In putting together my manifesto, I included a lot of statistics and research that were relevant. Here are some of the statistics and research that make the case for an Online Campus. I’ve updated some of them as new information and statistics have emerged since the original manifesto. Sources will be included at the end of the post.
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Online Campus: How It All Began (Part 2 / Manifesto)

I don’t think my friend has any idea the depth of the “manifesto” I’m about to deliver to him regarding a project we’re working on. #crushit
-A tweet of mine from February 14, close to midnight

(Click here to read Part 1)

So, the idea/possibility of an online church began to coalesce a number of things within me. While doing some research on the topic, I started to become passionate about the idea. I began to pray about if a role was about to open up that focused on an online church, if it was something I should pursue.

The Christmas holiday was fun for my family and me, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about the possibilities of an online church. When I went back to work, I seemed to have a different perspective with work. A lot was going on inside me, and I was keeping it fairly quiet what I was doing on my own time with regard to researching an online church. It was exciting.
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Online Campus: How It All Began (Part 1 / Inception)

“What do you know about online churches?”
-Steve Walters to me, December 21, 2010

It was last December, the first day of winter. It was a throwaway question that Steve Walters asked me as I was leaving his office. Steve is the pastor at Christ Community Church’s Sarpy Campus, and I had helped him with some planning of potential CCC multi-site campuses.

I had come by his office to tell him I didn’t think I was suppose to pursue a Campus Pastor position if the campus was going to be in the west Omaha suburbs. Before, I had talked with leadership about wanting to be a Campus Pastor with a future multi-site campus. As the talks continued, and as it looked like a potential campus could be in the suburbs, I began to think and pray through the realities of what it might look like to be a pastor to a suburban area in Omaha.
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The Class for Fathers

Last Sunday the Father’s class, You Have What it Takes, got started at both the Old Mill and Sarpy campuses. On the Sundays leading up to and on Father’s Day, we distributed 750 copies of John Eldredge’s book ‘You Have What it Takes: What Every Father needs to Know.” This four week long class is based on this book and is great for any father. At the Old Mill campus the spectrum of fathers ranged from fathers to be, all the way to grandfathers with everything in between.

Our first session covered the first three chapters of the book. We discussed the big question boys look to their fathers to answer, “Do I have what it takes?” Girls long for their father to answer the questions, “Am I lovely” and “Are you thinking of me?” Answering those questions is where the rubber meets the road for fathers. Thankfully, God gives us his grace (Ephesians 2:8-10) to save us and the empowerment thru His Spirit (Ephesians 3:16-17) to answer those questions.

Here’s a question I’d love for you to ponder over the week. Think back over those moments when you really loved being a dad, what were you doing? Do you sense God at work in you during those times? Remember, you are his workmanship created in Christ to do those good works (Ephesians 2:10). Thank God for his presence in your life and rely on Him more for being a dad.

This Sunday, Marty Barnhart will be leading the session that will look at chapters 4 and 5 of Eldredge’s book and discuss how you, dad, are the most powerful man in the world but often times do not feel all that powerful. Marty will lead an insightful discussion around this topic using examples of men from the Bible, video clips and great questions to learn about being a dad.

Join us as both the Old Mill and Sarpy classes meet at 9 AM.