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Beyond The Message: Project 4:4 Reflections {Video}

In the latest Beyond The Message, I sit down with my wife, Jana Murphy, to discuss her thoughts on completing Project 4:4. Jana has helped lead the MOPS ministry at CCC (Mothers of Preschoolers), and is a part of the Online Campus team.

Pulling the Plug on the Virtual Choir (for now)

Screen Shot 2012-11-30 at 4.48.54 PM“In writing, you must kill all your darlings.” -William Faulkner

Over the years, Faulkner’s quote has evolved into almost every facet of life. Nowadays, the saying is “kill your babies”. Obviously, it doesn’t mean to kill a baby. It’s putting to death something that is special to you. Are you willing to put to death something you have invested into even if it means you’ll be better off for doing so?

I thought of this as we made the decision to pull the plug on the Virtual Choir. Was it disappointing? Of course, but it was the right decision. Here’s some background with it. (more…)

CCC & Instagram

Instagram is a favorite app for many. People share moments and memories with it. Many of us staff post to Instagram on a consistent basis.

Now, Christ Community Church has an Instagram account setup. What we hope to do with it is capture some of the wonderful moments that happen here.

Find us on Instagram at “cccomaha”. Our Instagram pics will also post to a Tumblr we have set up if you’d prefer to follow that.










Being Proven Wrong, Thankfully

Being the Online Campus Pastor I often hear a lot of jokes about what my job entails. They are usually the same jokes with slight variations.

“You’re an Online Campus Pastor? What do you do all day? Facebook? Surf the web? Drink coffee?”

I roll with it. What am I going to say, that Facebook, surfing the web and drinking coffee aren’t part of the job? (Okay, drinking coffee isn’t part of my job requirements. However, don’t be surprised if the local Starbucks is the next CCC multi-site.) (more…)

Online Campus: Abby Anderson in Ukraine

One of the cool things with the Online Campus is connecting with people all around the world. Abby Anderson is one of those individuals for me. I didn’t know her before we launched the Online Campus, but now? I know her and a bit of her story. She serves in the Peace Corps over in Ukraine. She got connected to the Online Campus because a friend of hers posted about it on Facebook.

I asked Abby if she’d be willing to share some of her story, and the connection to the Online Campus. She graciously agreed, and produced this video. (Thanks Abby!)

The Tension of Numbers and Mission with the Online Campus

Two months into the life of the Online Campus and I’m ecstatic with the stories that have come forth. People are being ministered to, and served, through an online format. What seemed ridiculous to some, or science fiction to others, is a reality that is reaping a great reward.

Something that has come up is people are connecting through the Online Campus, and then getting connected at one of Christ Community Church’s physical campuses. Whether new to the area, or just checking the church out, they attend the Online Campus to get a feel of CCC. It’s a safe way to find out more about the church, and engage initially on their terms. The online services are engaging and fun, so for a number of people they want to get connected in person.


Property Heroes!

Most of the content of this blog post came from Tim Anstead, our property manager at CCC who, along with a great facility team created a superheroic effort to the church for services this week! Check it out and give them a high-five sometime!

The Property Care team doesn’t often seek attention for the work they do, but sometimes it’s great to have a reason to lift them up.

Although most people won’t notice it, we had a major HVAC failure yesterday about noon that caused tens, perhaps even hundreds of gallons of filthy, rusty water to gush from the air handlers located on each side of the upper Worship Center hallway. The mechanical rooms were flooded, and the water cascaded down through the floor and into the lower WC hallways and down the inside walls of the Worship Center.

It was really, really bad news.

The Property Care team responded perfectly. The custodial team immediately began containing the water, and after locating the source of the problem, they contacted me and DJ. We were able to close the water valves to the HVAC less than 20 minutes after the leak began. Twenty minutes seems like a long time, but believe me, we were amazingly blessed by that kind of response. Unfortunately, we now had a really wet building, and the two air handlers that serve the Worship Center were out of commission. (meaning no heat for Sunday Morning when we expect a 0 degree morning.) Because of the type of damage, getting the air handlers fixed was a long shot. It was shaping up to be a cold Sunday morning at church.

God is faithful, though. Within an hour we had Thermal Services onsite to address the frozen HVAC coils, we had Service Master onsite to handle the water extraction and clean-up, and we had BSSI (controls programmers) onsite to determine why the problem occurred in the first place. Against long odds, Thermal diagnosed and repaired the system so it could be in use this morning, Service Master extracted the water and got everything dried out for this morning, and BSSI found the source of the problem and worked long into the night to correct what they had found.

Thanks to the excellent response by Nick, Perry, Dave, Isaac, DJ, Dale from Thermal, Dave from Service Master, and Ty from BSSI, the people coming to church this morning will likely not know how close we came to property disaster yesterday. The team worked well together, and the results far exceeded the expectations I had when I first saw the true extent of the problem. What a great confirmation that even with when things break bad, we serve a God that gives us the people and resources we need to get it right in order to serve the people in His Kingdom.

We’ve got some wall and carpet damage that will need to be repaired over the next week or so, but without the quick, well-performed actions of our property staff and contractors, today could have looked far different than it does. So please, when you see the Property Care team over the next few days, give them a pat on the back, they certainly deserve it.

The Dark Side of the Ministry Life

I love my calling. I love my job. I love being a pastor. I have fond memories of when I was missionary working overseas and here in America. It’s hard to imagine living any other life than the one I have. But I also know there is a danger with that life.

I saw a recent post which highlighted the struggles a number of people face while working in ministry. The following stats are courtesy of

  • 40% of pastors and 47% of spouses are suffering from burnout, frantic schedules, and/or unrealistic expectations.
  • 45% of pastors’ wives say the greatest danger to them and their family is physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual burnout.
  • 45% of pastors say that they’ve experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence from ministry.
  • 50% feel unable to meet the needs of the job.
  • 52% of pastors say they and their spouses believe that being in pastoral ministry is hazardous to their family’s well-being and health.
  • 56% of pastors’ wives say that they have no close friends.
  • 57% would leave the pastorate if they had somewhere else to go or some other vocation they could do.
  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90% feel unqualified or poorly prepared for ministry.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.

It’s no wonder people I’ve talked to about working full-time in ministry have reservations. They’ve seen and/or heard horror stories of what it can be like. (I have my own horror stories!) Why is that? Because the work is crucial.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
(John 10:10 ESV)

When God calls someone, He calls them to fulfill His mission. He calls them to love, serve and reach out to people in need. This kind of work will draw someone into spiritual warfare with the Enemy. If someone doesn’t take necessary precaution, they could open themselves, and their family, to unnecessary harm.

One thing I appreciate about working at Christ Community Church is the culture and environment that has been established by Lead Pastor Mark Ashton. Mark has a high standard of excellence he wants the staff to reach. He pushes us to serve and sacrifice. However, he also expects the staff to take Sabbaths. He expects the staff to focus on their marriage and family if they are married and/or have kids. He hopes that staff take time to focus on their own relationship with God, and are plugged into a Journey Group. He schedules times for staff development and has Q&A with the staff. He is leading us in pursuit of God and not in pursuit of keeping the status quo.

When I interact with Mark, or I interact with another leader, like Pastor Steve Walters, those guys are always asking about how I am doing, how my marriage is, and if things are going well with my kids. Of course, they are concerned that I am doing my job and staying on mission with it, but they are more concerned that I, and my family, are mentally/emotionally/physically/spiritually healthy. A few years ago when I backed off some commitments at church, to focus in on my family’s health, I received some criticism for doing so. Mark and Steve encouraged me for making that choice. My family is better off, I am better off, and my work is better off for making that decision.

I think this is one reason why the average length of stay, for a CCC staff member, is five years. While that may not seem like a long time, it is twice the average for a staff person at a church of comparable size. Staff enjoy working here and being a part of what God is doing here. The spiritual health of the staff is important. Are their difficulties here? Of course. Are their conflicts between staff at times? Of course. However, I think staff realize how good it is here. CCC is not perfect, but it is good.

The above statistics are something we must be on guard for at all times. It’s never obvious, it’s a slow drift into depression and burnout. It’s a slow drift into a strained marriage and family. It’s one reason why my wife and I are always militant to make sure we set boundaries. We set boundaries with our Sabbath. We set boundaries for our family. We make sure to have times of prayer, individually and corporately. We make sure we have healthy friendships. We don’t want to fit those things into the rest of our schedule, the rest of our schedule needs to fit around those necessary things.

When we make sure we are centered on Jesus, and we are taking care of our own and family’s spiritual health, it is easier to endure the spiritual warfare that will come. And it will come because the mission of reaching, helping and serving the world around us is great. However, it doesn’t need to defeat us.

It is also easier when your leadership makes sure your spiritual health is a priority. CCC makes sure this is a priority, and the trickle down effect is the people CCC interacts with, and reaches, will reap the benefits of a spiritually healthy leadership.

I want you to know that from the top down, here at CCC, we do our best to make sure we are healthy so we can lead/serve at our optimum best for Jesus.

Mission + Trust = Communitas

Something I’ve been thinking about lately is Alan Hirsch’s concept of communitas. At a recent Emerge leaders’ retreat, Paul Gardner and I shared about the concept. It’s been on my brain that much. Here’s a video where Alan Hirsch summarizes the idea of communitas.

There are a lot of things I like about it. The main concept being mission. We need to be on mission. At Christ Community Church, our mission is:

Making disciples of Jesus for Kingdom impact

Everything we do at CCC is motivated by that mission. We are not here to just be comfortable and escape. We are here, we are called, we are sent by Jesus…to be on mission.

The formula for communitas is something Hirsch developed. Often, we think we need trust before we can have community or go on mission. This is not true. If we have a mission, and others are on that mission as well, we can pursue it together. In that pursuit of mission, we develop trust with those who are on mission with us. And then, communitas forms.

Some of the CCC staff and people I’ve developed good friendships with are people I did not expect to be friends with for whatever reason. We’re good friends because we are on mission together. We are pursuing CCC’s mission together. We are pursuing specific ministry and individual missions together. We have a bond because of it.


Think of a short-term mission trip. When you go on a short-term mission trip you often don’t know fellow participants. Yet, trust is built because you are with them on mission. You share in the highs and lows. You share in the experience of that mission. You are with them to complete the objective of that mission trip. And then communitas happens. There are bonds between you and fellow participants that last a life time because of the mission you were on together.

I think of overcoming my porn addiction. I didn’t have trust with the men in my group when I first started pursuing freedom from addiction. Those other men didn’t trust me either initially. We had a common mission, though. We were going to overcome addiction by God’s grace. We pursued that mission together. We helped each other out during the bad times. We walked with each other during the valley of the shadow of death. We celebrated victories with one another. Trust was developed because we were with each other, through thick and thin, on mission. And what happened? Communitas. Lasting relationships. Do I see these men every day or week? No, but when I do see them there is a bond there that cannot be broken because of the mission we accomplished together.

Does communitas sound good? Do you want it? If so, are you on mission? Are you engaged with CCC’s mission, or are you just wanting to escape and be comfortable?

For more on this topic, check out Alan Hirsch’s book The Forgotten Ways.
This post was adapted from an earlier post on Robert Murphy’s personal blog, RamHatter.

Around Town

Earlier this month, I wrote about the merger of Core and Coram Deo. In this recent video, Bob Thune and Ethan Burmeister share about what brought the two churches together.

It’s another example of churches and people doing something for the greater good of the community. Something that betters the city of Omaha. It’s not about bringing glory to oneself or to a church.

It’s one reason why I like Christ Community Church’s partnership with Bridge Church. It’s helping out another church that already has influence in its community. CCC doesn’t have the influence in North Omaha that Bridge does, but both churches want the same thing. So why not help Bridge out in reaching and serving the people in its area? It strengthens unity amongst area churches and people, it better serves people in the community, and it’s a tremendous reflection of Jesus.

Churches coming together to represent Jesus and advance the Kingdom of God. Brilliant.