loren Eric Swanson: Casey Yorman--Northcoast Community Church

Friday, September 16, 2005

Casey Yorman--Northcoast Community Church

I was in Costa Mesa today to meet with some of the best thinkers and practitioners of externally focused ministry--Started at Starbuck's with Casey Yorman. Casey's doing a great job at Northcoast Community Church in Vista in mobilizing small groups into community ministry. Casey's job is to mobilize small groups in externally focused ministry...starting with attractive and compelling service opportunities. Casey says, "You've got to get them to to it once if you want them to do it twice." They partner with 13 community partners...everything from the Bread of Life Rescue Mission to Green Oak Ranch--a residential Christian drug and alcohol recovery center that also provides emergency foster care, to The Michaelle House--a home for disabled HIV/AIDS patients. Casey finds that human service agencies are great ministry partners. "We don't form a permanent relationship with an organization without a person who wants to run point with that organization." For small groups that want to go beyond their partner ministries, Casey encourages them to come up with their own service projects. Last year 70% of the 200 small groups engaged in some type of service beyond the walls of Northcoast. 800 Katrina victims have come into San Diego area. Casey is asking growth groups to adopt a family to provide the relational support and resources these displaced families will need.

Casey has a knack for linking a person's passions with God's purposes. When we sat down at Starbuck's he was just getting off the phone with Clayton. Clayton is a building contractor who has a passion for...chain saws. And someone in Louisianna had contacted Casey with a need to cut fallen trees. "And if the chainsaw breaks, we'll have another one ready for you." The last time Clayton cut trees, he worked 18 hours straight with only a 10 minute lunch break. The man is passionate about chain saws...and God is using him. To Casey, Clayton is "the man" that folks are following in the chainsaw ministry!

To facilitate small groups engaging with opportunities outside the wall, Casey and a volunteer built a Website that connects small groups with partner organizations. It's a great picture of market efficiencies at work. After meeting with other pastors I dropped by Northcoast for their kickoff event for small group leaders--500 leaders, representing 250 small groups came together around a baseball theme (complete with 3 batting cages, peanuts, Cracker Jacks and the Padres game being played live over the sound system) to be challenged and oriented to this year's small group ministries. Among those present at the kickoff event were eight of their partner ministries.

One person suggested that human service agencies are really "life-change centers." Peter Drucker reminds us that every non-profit exists for one "bottom line"--changed lives. If human service agencies, like the kind Casey is partering with, are "life-change centers, believers make great partners. You can learn more from Casey by contacting him at cyorman@northcoastchurch.com


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