Technical Arts Pastor
It's easy to forget how quickly the world is changing. A few days ago I was reminded that September will mark just the 20th anniversary of the launch of the first website. Yep, before September 1994 there were no web sites to surf and no web browsers to surf them with. And even then, those first websites were nothing like what we browse today, a relatively short 20 years later. Check out for instance this image of what Yahoo looked like when it first launched in 1994 versus what it looks like today.
The technology that powers the web has come a long way in its brief existence, and in that time the Church (big "C") has continually strived to understand and effectively harness this fast-moving, ever changing technology in ways that allow those who are far from God to be exposed to the message of Jesus and to empower those who have already placed their faith in Jesus to be equipped, encouraged and connected with meaningful opportunities to transform their lives and reshape their world. Taking the things of the world and reimagining what they could do for the cause of Christ is woven into the very fabric of the Church. To take things, no matter how badly broken or perverted and transform them to be used to bring God's light and truth to broken, hurting people is to participate with Jesus in the work of redemption.
I consider myself incredibly privileged to be able to dedicate my energies to redeeming technology within the local congregation, and excited to be part of a church that is passionate about making the best use of the ever-increasing capacities made possible by those technologies currently available. So as I write, I want to share just two of the exciting things that we're doing here at Victor Valley to redeem technology in general, and the internet in particular for the cause of Christ.
The first of those things, I've shared about before, so for some of you this may be a reminder about something we introduced at the end of last year called RightNow Media. One of the more awesome aspects of RightNow Media is that it is completely FREE to everyone who calls VVCC home. RightNow Media takes the power of the internet to transmit video (ala Youtube or Netflix) and pairs it with the very best communicators and teachers of God's Word to offer a vast library of videos focused on helping believers grow at every step of their walk with God. This tool allows you and I to access a huge library of videos that spans across a huge range of topics right from home.
If you haven't been making use of this resource, you really need to check it out. Even if you commit to watching just one 10-minute video each week you will be amazed at the impact that those 10 minutes can make, both in your knowledge of God's Word and your enthusiasm to pursue Him. There are videos for your kids, videos about different books of the bible, videos about the struggles that arise in our lives. There are literally thousands of videos at your fingertips, each there to nurture your relationship with God. Check it out at rightnowmedia.org, and if for some reason you lost your invite or never received one, email me and we will get you set up.
If RightNow Media is about helping the people of VVCC connect with God's Word, then this second item is about helping the people of VVCC connect with one another. When we launched the new design for vvcc.com back in April, we had 2 goals in mind, to make the experience of finding information on the site easier, and to help those people who weren't already connected with VVCC get a better idea of what the church was about by seeing how they might find a home at VVCC. But in those early discussions about what we could do to improve the website there was a third string of ideas that at the time we didn't quite have the ability to make a reality— to create something that supported and encouraged the connection between the people who call VVCC "their church". This is exactly what our most recent work in the technology area is allowing us to do. This new system is called Church Community Builder, although around the office we just called it CCB, and I'm incredibly excited about the possibilities it allows for building community and effective communication among the VVCC community.
At its heart, CCB is an organizational tool for those folks who call VVCC home. It is by far the easiest and quickest way to:
Tammy was out running an errand and wanted to stop by the home of a member who has been dealing with some medical issues. In the past this would have meant a call into the office and dealing with taking down numbers, and then putting those numbers back into her phone to call the house, look up the address and then finally map the address. But instead Tammy was able to call the house and map the address directly from CCB running on her phone.
As much as CCB is helping the staff, it also has great features for non-staff leaders. Tammy's been meeting with LifeGroup leaders to show them CCB and the ways they will be able to use it to interact and communicate with the members of their LifeGroup, schedule events, post messages to their group, post if/when someone in the group has a need that others in the group might be able to meet. We are working to make sure that ministry leaders are able to have the information they need to best serve those they minister to while at the same time guaranteeing that people's privacy and information is protected.
On the note of privacy, we are all concerned about how much and what kind of information is available on the internet. I want you to be assured we take guarding your information seriously and without spending too much time explaining the intricacies of how CCB works, know that:
We've really just getting started with CCB, in the next couple of days we will be training our BASECAMP Check-In team on how to use CCB so that beginning Sunday, August 3rd when you go to check your child into either BASECAMP or BASECAMP jr., you will have a much quicker and easier experience using a new Check-In system, powered by CCB. Here's just a tiny sneak peak at what CCB Check-In looks like...
Much like the internet, CCB is constantly changing and adding new functionality, as it does I will be letting you know about the awesome new opportunities that it will make possible for us to connect with one another.
If the church had a current email address on file, you should have already received your invite to join CCB and begin exploring all that it allows you to do. If for some reason you didn't receive that email or if we didn't have your current email address, email me or talk to me at church on a Sunday morning and I would love to help you get started using CCB.
It's an exciting time to be part of Christ's church and I look forward to discovering what the weeks, months, and years have in store for all of us at Victor Valley as we grow together through our commitment to Christ, as we build community and as we unleash compassion!
For over 15 years Tammy Grebel has been a friendly, welcoming, and familiar face through the many manifestations of the VVCC Children’s Ministry. At the time she agreed to provide regular leadership to the ministry Tammy’s own children were well involved. She enjoyed “learning on the job,” growing in her faith and dependence upon God, and creativity while seeing her girls, as well as a host of other children, participate in BASECAMP and eventually graduate toward junior high, high school, and beyond. Tammy and her incredibly talented and committed army of BASECAMP team members have invested in many a child’s foundation of faith; a foundation from which I believe those children will never waver.
This June has seen a transition in leadership in BASECAMP. The entire month of June, Tammy has expeditiously handed the reins of a ministry she’s developed and nurtured to the more than capable hands of Shane Cottrell. Like Tammy, Shane joins the VVCC staff from within the congregation. Shane has been a member of VVCC for several years and was originally introduced to the church through former member and elder, Mike Rader. Shane met Mike while a student at Hesperia High School (graduating in 2004) where Mike served as Music/Choir Teacher.
I met Shane years ago and really got to know him as we worked on a few VVCC sermon videos together, you may remember him from our videos spoofing "The Office". I immediately found him to be confident, talented, and hilarious…occasionally all at the same time! When it came time to prayerfully consider who might take those reins from Tammy, Shane quickly came to my mind (even if he happens to root for the Angels). After months of talking and praying with staff and elders he was affirmed. June 1st Shane Cottrell joined the VVCC staff as Children’s Ministry Director on a part-time basis with the plan being to transition him to full-time in the early Spring of 2015. In the meantime he and his wife, Marissa, are getting accustomed to a new normal; that of being a church staff member and/or spouse.
This is not Shane’s first foray into educating young children. Shane has taught music and directed plays and dramas for youngsters in the high desert for years now. He is currently finishing his Bachelor’s Degree in education.
I trust that those of you with children in first through sixth grade will find Shane to be a wonderful leader for our BASECAMP ministry and team. He is incredibly charismatic and creative and while he, too, will be “learning on the job” I am confident that God will lead him to continue the legacy of love, commitment, service, and fun that Tammy developed before him.
So what about Tammy, you ask? Tammy Grebel will now serve VVCC as the Connections Pastor. She will be providing vision and leadership over our Life Groups and First Impressions ministries while developing a much needed plan to get members and guests alike connected to service and one another. I can assure you Tammy is excited for and up to the new challenge before her.
With Shane’s addition to the staff and Tammy’s transition to her new ministry I believe VVCC is now well staffed to make great strides toward transforming families that are far from God. I happen to believe that although VVCC has been around for almost 45 years her best years are ahead of her. I ask you to greet Shane and welcome him aboard. I ask you to thank Tammy for all her years of dedicated leadership to BASECAMP. Finally, I also ask that you join the staff and elders alike in praying for the future of VVCC and the Victor Valley. There is such a great need for our friends in this community to know Jesus and to experience the preferred life, the life lived in relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ and in community with like-minded believers. As Jesus once told his followers when looking upon the needs of his community, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.” There is much to do in and for our local community; join us in exhausting every measure to love the people God puts before us and leading them to Jesus.
From upcoming events to random thoughts, each week this is the place to hear from a staff member or guest writer.