Christ Community Church in Greeley
I'm passing on a couple of updates from friends of mine at Christ Community Church in Greeley Colorado. CCC is a great model of an externally focused church. When Alan Kraft graduated seminary he wanted to be a senior pastor in a college town. Only one church was willing to give him a chance--a landbound church in Greeley with a mere 75 aging people. From the beginning Alan and his people began serving the community around them--shoveling snow and raking leaves...not for any reason other than to let neighbors know that they too were good neighbors and God loves them. They sent scores of people every week to help tutor kids at the elementary school. They started a hot lunch program, run by the youth pastor on Thursdays for the high school with 200 kids coming into the church each week. As the church grew to over a thousand, they had to decide to relocate to the suburbs or buy up old houses to have the land to build. The neighbors intervened at the city council meetings. "Don't let this church leave!" The city waved the parking spots / attendees rule and now CCC sits a few blocks from the University of Northern Colorado and is thriving. Recently this church of 1,500 raised $4m--half of which will go to projects outside the church through their ammended PEACE plan. I'm just amazed at what God does through ordinary people.
Here are a couple of notes I've gotten from them:
Thanks for the update. One of our experiments coming up this holiday season is what we’re calling YuleFest Parties. For the past two years, we’ve had “YuleFest” at our church, which has just been a huge Christmas party for “us”: a talent (that’s probably being generous, considering some of the acts!) show, food and eggnog, gigantic jumpy-things for the kids to play on, an art show, music, and a card decorating/cookie exchange center where a person could design a card and put a plate of cookies together to give to neighbors around the church on the way home. It’s been cool and a lot of fun, but pretty much just about us. And we felt God leading us to do something different.
So this year, instead of having a centralized party for us, we’re hoping to launch 200 decentralized Christmas parties designed to mobilize our people to build intentional relationships with people in our community. In order to do that, we’re putting together “YuleFest Kits” full of everything someone might need to host a great party: booklet that includes recipes, service project suggestions (coat drive, canned food drive, gift boxes for military, etc.), childcare suggestions, conversation tips, icebreakers, activities, etc.; kid games; CD of holiday music; 20 copies of Christmas carols; a candle with holder (to light in order to remind the host that they are the “light of the world”); and a disposable camera.
All someone has to do is sign up, host a party, invite neighbors, co-workers, family, whoever to the party, then return the camera and a story about the party so we have tales of what went on in our community. The cool thing is that the parties are so non-directive and decentralized that everything the church provides in the kit is nothing more than suggestions. They can use the material or scrap everything in order to conform that party to the context of the people invited. We’re pumped, excited, and can’t wait to see what God is going to do through this simple tool! It’s really helping our people move out into our community, instead of staying huddle in a fruitcake-like mass!
Christ Community Church
Lots of cool things are going on. It’d be fun to do lunch with you and perhaps Steve Oeffling on our staff. He was just telling me about some of the missional things happening here. Two groups have now started meeting at a Hoopa bar in Ft. Collins, plus more kids are coming to a skate/snowboard park missional community thing…so it’s fun. We did a 5 dollar Starbuck gift card distribution to about 1100 teachers two weeks ago and continue to receive thank you notes. I was going to email you a letter to the editor written by the Central High School principal, Mary Lauer, last week. The whole thing was about how Christ Community Church is making a difference in the lives of their kids. It about brought me to tears, and I thought about your comment about “would the neighborhood notice if the church wasn’t there.”