Exciting News From Our Friends At Core And Coram Deo

This past Sunday, it was announced that Core Community Church would be merging with Coram Deo Community Church. Christ Community Church has a shared history with both of these churches, and we are excited to see what God will be doing in and through them in the future. A brief history and then some personal thoughts...

If you've been attending CCC for awhile, you know there have been a number of direct and indirect church plants that have come from CCC. Indirect church plants can sometimes be a nice way of saying there was a church split, or conflict, that caused a group of people to leave a church and start a new one. For instance, this was the case with CCC and Lifegate Church (formerly Trinity Interdenominational). What's cool, though, is how God restored the relationship between CCC and Lifegate, over time, and now what the enemy intended for evil has been a blessing to thousands of people in the community.

(In case you missed it, here is the video of the public reconciliation between CCC and Lifegate.)

In 2000, Ethan Burmeister was the College Pastor at CCC. After a number of events, he left CCC and started Core Community Church, later that year, in downtown Omaha. The break between CCC and Ethan wasn't ideal, and there were some hard feelings on both sides. It was one of those indirect church plants. However, over time, God healed the tension and awkwardness between CCC and Core, and it's great to be working alongside them in Omaha. Core has been key to a lot of gospel transformation in the lives of people who primarily live in downtown and midtown Omaha. Ethan continues to be at the forefront of God's work here, and has a keen understanding of how the timeless message of the Gospel should be adapted and taught in the context of Omaha.

The pastor who took over for Ethan at CCC? Bob Thune. Bob faithfully served the college ministry, and also did a lot of teaching in Access. In 2005, CCC sent out Bob, along with a contingent of CCC members and attenders, to plant Coram Deo. It's been cool to see the Kingdom impact they've had in Omaha. Well, it's not limited to Omaha. Coram Deo has also planted churches in South Africa and Austin, TX.

When Coram Deo started, Ethan was right alongside Bob to help serve Coram Deo in any way he could. Both churches were involved with the Acts 29 Network and had strong commitments to the city of Omaha. Over the past six years, a strong bond has formed between the two churches as they lived and served here in the community. So it came as no surprise when I heard the news the two churches were merging.

That's the brief history. Now, my thoughts.

When my wife and I moved to Omaha in 2004, one of the first couples we connected with at CCC was Paul and Michelle Gardner. We were in a journey group together, and had a wonderful time being a part of each other's lives in a small group community. I always enjoyed talking with them about Jesus, life, politics, family, raising kids, Huskers and more. They always opened their home to us. Paul would be out in the backyard grilling, and Michelle would be prepping stuff in the kitchen. They served Jana and I, which we appreciated since we were in a one bedroom apartment at the time. They were always authentic with us about where they were in life, which made it easier for Jana and I to share with them about what we were going through.

Paul and Michelle were a part of the team that was sent out, from CCC, to help Bob plant Coram Deo. While my wife and I were sad to no longer be a part of a small group with them, we were excited to see them be a part of what God was doing with Coram Deo. Six years later, they are key leaders at Coram Deo. Having experienced community with them, I know they are great example of Jesus to people. God is going to use them to minister to people, particularly families.

I had the joy of working with Dusty White for almost three years. He was refreshing. I appreciated how real he was, and how he wouldn't be soft in holding you, or someone else, accountable. Dusty expected you to do the same with him. He was also gracious to lend you any of his ministry resources, which I've definitely used over the years when doing baby dedications and pre-marital counseling. When he left CCC to go work at Coram Deo, it made complete sense. Obviously, CCC (especially staff) was sad to see him go, but Coram Deo seemed like the right fit for him, and his family, in this current stage of life.

Last year, I started to get to know the pastors at Core really well. We interacted a lot at Big Omaha, and shared a lot of our dreams and passions for Omaha. We started getting together to talk over coffee. We'd meet with each other's staff to help each other out with various aspects of ministry life. They invited me to be a part of their quarterly meetings where area church planters come together for food, fellowship and teaching. Doug Stevens and I even got together to watch the U.S. Men's Team play in last summer's World Cup. (GOOOOOOAL!) It was wonderful when Ethan and Matthew Smith joined the CCC staff for staff prayer, in June of 2010, so we could pray for them and other area churches. Ethan, Doug, and Matthew are friends who encourage and challenge me in life.

I say all that because I know these individuals. I know the love they have for Jesus, for their families and for the city of Omaha. I know how my life has benefitted in knowing them, so I can only imagine the kind of impact they will have when they join forces. I can't wait to see what happens next, and I'm glad CCC has strong ties with them.

Please join me in praying for the leadership and members of Core and Coram Deo as they start a new chapter.