Online Campus: How It All Began (Part 2 / Manifesto)
I don't think my friend has any idea the depth of the "manifesto" I'm about to deliver to him regarding a project we're working on. #crushit -A tweet of mine from February 14, close to midnight
So, the idea/possibility of an online church began to coalesce a number of things within me. While doing some research on the topic, I started to become passionate about the idea. I began to pray about if a role was about to open up that focused on an online church, if it was something I should pursue.
The Christmas holiday was fun for my family and me, but in the back of my mind I was thinking about the possibilities of an online church. When I went back to work, I seemed to have a different perspective with work. A lot was going on inside me, and I was keeping it fairly quiet what I was doing on my own time with regard to researching an online church. It was exciting. I started messaging various people I knew that were involved with online churches. Someone I had connected with over Twitter, earlier in 2010, was Justin Wise. He was the Digital Pastor at his church in Des Moines, IA, and helped launch an Online Campus for his church. We talked quite a bit, and he sent me a number of documents and articles that were helpful and got momentum going for me with this research.
In trying to get online church information I also messaged people I didn't know, but they were involved with online churches. One of those individuals was Brandon Donaldson. He is the Online Pastor for LifeChurch.TV, which is one of the pioneering online churches. Brandon was incredibly gracious with his time as I messaged him question after question relating to an online church. He responded with thorough answers and provided great insight as I was beginning to gather information.
One of the few CCC staff that was aware early on about this research was Micah Yost. He helped me get connected with the church he use to attend in Kansas City. They had just started an Online Campus and he introduced me to the Online Pastor, Jason Morris. Jason was another individual I messaged numerous questions and he answered them patiently and with details. I'm sure at times I sounded ignorant, but Jason, and Brandon, were always gracious with my questions.
While I was messaging these guys, I continued to scour the web for information relating to online churches. I have a folder full of bookmarks, in my Chrome internet browser, that go to all sorts of sites relating to online churches.
Steve Walters and I kept talking about information I was getting. I was forwarding him articles and documents as well. We had a lot compiled, so he thought we should meet with Lead Pastor Mark and update him.
We met with Mark on February 8, and went over the information I had gathered. Mark was interested in the possibilities and about how there were new and expansive ways we could be communicating the gospel message to people. One of the things we wondered was if there'd be any push back with the idea of an Online Campus. Steve didn't think it would be that much of an issue because of Christ Community Church's legacy. The founder of CCC, R.R. Brown, was one of the pioneers of church on the radio. At one point, he had over 500,000 listeners to his services on the radio. Steve said this is the modern day equivalent of the radio ministry. Mark and I thought it was brilliant. A revelation.
Mark asked me to compile some of the information together in a document and get it to him the following week. He knew it would be on my own time, and asked if that was okay, but wanted something he could show to Management Team at an upcoming meeting. I said it wouldn't be a problem. I saw it as an opportunity for me. I also began to realize that if a job was going to happen that dealt with an online church, Steve and Mark saw me as a natural fit for the role.
Throughout this, I had been talking to Jana. Jana realized it was an opportunity as well. More so, we saw it as something God was putting before me to pursue. It was possibly leading to the next stage of life and ministry for us.
While researching and compiling information, I made sure to carve out time for Jana and the boys. I made sure to have time with God. I know there are times we are busy, but I never want that busyness to completely take away from my family or Jesus.
So, the week leading up to when I needed to get Mark his information had lots of late nights. While I was doing this, I was also working on a number of video projects at work. I was tired, but I didn't care. I wanted to seize the moment. I felt like an entrepreneur, working away at their start-up.
As well, I had been praying for an opportunity like this. When I withdrew from consideration for one of the Online Campus Pastor positions, part of me didn't quite get why God was leading me with that. When this opportunity arose, then, I embraced it wholeheartedly. I saw it as an answer to prayer.
The Monday night* before I was to get Mark his information was a late night. As I started writing and compiling the information, the document grew and grew. More importantly, as I wrote it my passion for the project, and the potential with it, began to flow through. I would intermingle my opinions with the information and stats. I talked about my social media work for CCC and the gains that had made. I wrote about my personal experience with blogging, networking and social media and what that had reaped. In the midst of penning this I jokingly saw it as my "manifesto".** It was my passion. It was seemingly the convergence of experiences, dreams, and ideas into a call from God for this specific moment in my life.
*And, God bless Jana. She blessed and encouraged me to finish this on Valentine's Day.
**I'll be posting excerpts and stats from it tomorrow.
The next day I handed off my manifesto to Steve, along with a copy for Mark for their meeting. It was sixteen pages long. Steve laughed, smiled and said he wouldn't have expected anything else from me.
It was enthusiastically received by Mark and Steve, and then when they presented it to Management Team it was embraced by everyone there as well. The next multi-site campus to be pursued was an Online Campus. It was beginning to seem real that this, an Online Campus, was going to be in my immediate future.