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. I live in the suburbs*, so it would seem like a good fit. Yet, my heart for Omaha is for the entirety of the city. I grew up in midtown Omaha. I like being in the heart of Omaha and interacting with its people. It's not uncommon for me to meet up with people in midtown or downtown Omaha on a weekly basis.
*Depending on who you ask in west Omaha, my neighborhood may or may not be considered west Omaha. This is funny to me since the neighborhood I live in didn't exist when I graduated from high school. It's west Omaha to me, but to those in my current neighborhood who are moving further west, it is not west Omaha anymore.
Jana and I were talking and praying a lot. Through it I was reminded of my love for the city of Omaha. It is my home, where I was born and raised. I love engaging with people all over the city. I thought I could have more of an impact, and impact more of the city, if I was in an area that was closer to midtown or downtown Omaha. Jana and I talked about how we'd be willing to move into the city if a campus was started in midtown or downtown Omaha.
We were grateful to be considered one of the potential Campus Pastors, and we love being a part of Christ Community Church. I was appreciative of CCC sticking with me and giving me opportunities to lead more and more. It seemed odd to withdraw from consideration for the Campus Pastor position, but after praying and thinking it through I was confident that any role I'd have wasn't suppose to be out in west Omaha.
Back to that December day. I had come by Steve's office to tell him what I was thinking and to not be considered, for the time being, for any potential Campus Pastor position if it was in west Omaha. We talked a bit after I was done sharing, and then I got up to leave.
"What do you know about online churches?"
What did I know? I knew a little bit, and said as much to Steve. I was aware of what Life Church was doing. There were a few people I had connected with on Twitter that were involved with online churches. I knew social media well, and had shown and educated a number of staff about the benefits of using social media in their work. I was always looking for new ways technology could be utilized by churches, but my understanding was limited when it came to details and inner working about online churches. Steve asked if I could gather up some information for him, to give to Mark, because there was an idea about expanding CCC's online presence.
A few hours later I had emailed Steve a list of resources and reached out to some of the online church contacts I had. What did I know about online churches? Not much, but I also knew that my background, experience and skills would work well with any kind of expanded online presence. I also thought about if CCC was to decide upon an Online Campus that it could be something for me to help launch.
On my own time, I started to pursue this possibility of an Online Campus with gusto.