At the end of 2010, I implemented the Hatter’s Dozen. It’s a list I created of the twelve best of something, within a topic, over the course of a year. As the Online Campus becomes a reality tomorrow, I thought it would be fun to look back on some of the work projects I’ve been a part of and list a few. It’s a mix of favorites and those that have had an impact. I’ll also note within projects those that were key in prepping me for my current Online Campus Pastor role.
As well, I thought this list might help those who don’t know me at all and are wondering who this guy is that’s leading the Online Campus.
Some of the numbered items on the list link to past blog posts which provide more detail.
12. Defining Moments // Summer/Fall 2008
This was a message series based on the lives of the prophets Elijah and Elisha. I wrote and storyboarded comics and tv commercials, authored four devotionals for a study guide, and produced a devotional podcast. Part of the fun was being able to work with Greg Nunamaker on the comics and commercials. We laughed when we made research trips to local comic book stores.
It was fun to figure out how to make some of the ideas I came up with a reality. This was one of the first times trying to be multi-faceted in communicating and connecting people with a particular message series. Some hits and misses, but learned a lot that I’d apply to future projects. Like an online campus.
This was one of my favorite days of work. Actually, it was an interesting 24 hours. The night before the interview, I had dinner with Roddy Chong and Lead Pastor Mark. We talked life and ministry. The next morning, I hosted Omaha Mayor Jim Suttle during the services. Then, it was on to Gathering, where I’d interview Roddy.
I really don’t remember too many specifics from the talk, but for over an hour I was able to engage Roddy in a conversation that resonated with the people in attendance. We had a lot of fun. I heard a lot of great feedback about my performance, which was another step toward my new role.
I’m guessing this will be the one surprise on the list for people that read this and attend Christ Community Church. There are probably better videos I’ve produced, but this is still one of my favorites. It was one of those ideas where I pitched it and then was given the freedom to make it happen.*
*My bosses gave me room to succeed when it came to my Communication Team role.
I liked the juxtaposition of the stereotypical suburban family, which is a sizeable percentage of CCC attendees, with Omaha’s violence statistics. This was intentional so people would not think the issue of violence is an urban issue only. Hopefully, it also sheds light on the ugly truth with some families in the suburbs. It’s not all perfect, no matter how it may look on the outside.
I was in a Message Team meeting when I first pitched this idea. I wasn’t expecting to produce it, but because of my passion in pushing for it Mark basically told me to make it happen. So I did.
One of the goals with the video was to fool people into thinking they were watching Lead Pastor Mark preaching live. We have two venues at our Old Mill Campus, so routinely he will preach live in one venue and we’ll stream it to the other venue for people to watch live. So, when the video went dark, it got really quiet with people wondering what to do. Then the music kicked in and the stats came up on the screen.
This was another piece that helped others realize the depth of social media use amongst Millenials.
Afterward, people mainly wanted to talk about the music that was used. That made me smile.
A fun animation I created in Keynote. A mix of fun, interesting and serious facts about the Bible. I put a Radiohead song to it as well, and that would end up being a bridge for a number of people to check out the video that normally wouldn’t.
I originally did this for the series God Made You For This, in spring of 2009, but it was reused earlier this year for the message God Speaks Through Scripture.
While I had edited and produced a few videos before that showed I could do an adequate job, this video hit a home run with people. This was also one of the first video projects where I handled almost everything from beginning to end.
This project also afforded me the chance to fully exploit Keynote, something that has led to people inquiring how I do it.*
*Number one blog post from last year? How To Animate With Keynote.
6. Easter 2008 // February through April 2008
Lead Pastor Mark asked me to write part of the Easter message in 2008. I had written a number of posts that poked fun at the staff, and myself, when staff had filled out March Madness brackets. He liked what I wrote and thought I should be writing more stuff for Sundays.
I was asked to write a piece that touched on the infinite of the universe, creation and time, and how it relates to God and his relationship with us. Simple stuff. One of the scenes we shot at University of Nebraska at Omaha. A professor was there to monitor the proceedings, but also to fact check the script I wrote. If there were any issues with it, he was going to nix us filming there. It all worked out.
This Easter piece was one of the first major projects I can remember that involved everyone on the Communications Team. It was a lot of fun. While the subsequent Easters we’d work together on some video project, and improve upon the quality, the first video we did holds sentimental value to me.
This was an enlightening project. When I consider the journey God took me on last year, with regard to social justice (Part 1 and Part 2), some of the early steps of that journey happened with this project.
I was able to meet and talk with some wonderful people who are/were doing amazing things to help serve the city and reconcile the racial divide in Omaha. (R.I.P. Larry Menyweather-Woods)
Looking back on it, I’m amazed how quickly we were able to execute this project from beginning to end. It was originally suppose to be thirty seconds long, but I didn’t heed that and instead created what I had in my mind’s eye. When people saw the finished product, no one complained.
This was the first time I worked with Greg on a project, and it was a lot of fun. He pulled a lot of late nights making the animation work, and his wife gave birth to their second child in the midst of producing the four animations. Good times.
3. Pastoral Care // January 2008 to present
When I was first asked to help with pastoral care, the number one response seemed to be, “You’re a pastor?”* Why yes, yes I am.
*This happens a lot on hospital visitations.
This biggest thing with this responsibility has been doing baby dedications the past year. I thoroughly enjoy being able to serve young families with those dedications, and appreciate being a part of a moment that is special to a number of families.
Another one of the joys I have with this is being an on-call pastor. Whenever the phone call comes that a pastor is needed, it promises to be an adventure. The calls are usually things you have no preparation for. I think of the weird calls first. The people who give tall tales as to why they need money. The individual who got out of my moving car, before I stopped it, because I had just told him I didn’t have cash as I was driving him to the bus stop. The person who called me up and used X-Men and March Madness’ Sweet Sixteen as examples of confirmation as to why I needed to act on what God was calling this individual to. The person who wanted the Bible verse that talked about skin melting from the bones of people because he was talking to someone about Iran and nuclear war.
After the silliness, though, I think of the people that are in real need. The individual at the halfway house who came looking for prayer. The veteran who was looking for hope while contemplating his life. The individual in need of their next meal. The parent that needed someone to listen when their child was going through a struggle. The single mom that needed a lifeline. It’s those moments where I am beyond grateful I can serve in such a capacity.
2. Social Media // Spring 2006 to present
It started off with the podcast. I kept pushing the idea of a podcast for CCC. Most staff didn’t care. It wasn’t a part of my work responsibilities at the time. So, I made it happen in 2006. A few missteps early on, but we had a message podcast up and running. Soon, others saw the benefit of it and it became a part of my work responsibilities.
This theme would happen with a number of social media projects. They started because I initiated them on my own time. I don’t say that to highlight me, but rather highlight “the hustle”. If you believe in something, then you need to make it happen. People have all sorts of ideas, but rarely make them come to fruition. I saw how social media could be used for CCC. If I was going to get others to see it, I needed to make it happen. So I did.
The podcasts were the first thing, and a MySpace page followed, but it really took root when I started the CCC Facebook Group on May 13, 2008.
It took time to convince staff about how social media could be beneficial to their work. I can still remember talking to various staff about the benefits of the web, blogs and Facebook and the condescending responses I received for wasting away my work day. Social media was for students and not adults was another excuse.* One former pastor didn’t like the idea of a blog because it would be public and people would hold him to his words.**
*The church isn’t known to be forward-thinking.
**Is it just me that finds that funny?
Over time, though, the staff have seen the benefits of social media. They interact with people on Facebook, tweet with contacts around the world, and can publish more content than can fit during a service. Visitors have come to the church because of the online presence we’ve established. Estimates are that 50% of attendees at the Sarpy Campus are there because of our online presence.
When I started producing the podcasts, it was something in addition to my normal work responsibilities. Now, social media dominates my work. I never would’ve guessed that when I started these projects.
1. China // January 2006
When I set up the meeting with my China contacts and the CCC pastor that handled missions (Ian Vickers), I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had done missionary work in China before coming to Omaha. I knew CCC was looking at China as a potential partnership, but not sure how. I had talked to various CCC leaders about my work, and contacts, from China and thought it would be a great partnership between the two. Still, I wasn’t part of CCC’s denomination, and my contacts weren’t either. I was worried that might be a hindrance.
Ian, my contacts and I met at Starbucks, in January 2006. Ian and my contact did most of the talking. After it ended, Ian looked at me and said he knew he was getting himself into something big. A partnership was starting.
Since then, there have been numerous people that have gone from CCC to serve in China on short-term trips, and have had their worldview radically altered for the better. A handful of families have adopted orphans from the orphanage one of my contacts founded. Young Chinese leaders have been mentored by leaders from CCC. People have given thousands of dollars to help with causes in China. Countless lives have been changed because of this partnership.
(And there you have it!)