5 Ways to Support Church Planting

If you’ve spent any time at Clear Creek Community Church you’ve probably noticed the commitment to launching new campuses and building new buildings. For some people, this is confusing. Why put forth so much effort and time and money just so people don’t have to drive as far to go to church? It’s a valid question, but one Clear Creek leaders answered a long time ago.

The mission of Clear Creek is to lead unchurched people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

There a few problems this mission focuses on. One is that the church’s aim is to reach unchurched people. Unchurched is, as you might surmise, defined as people who do not go to church. The second problem being addressed in this statement is to lead people to full devotion to Jesus. It’s not just about a decision or a good attendance record, but the heart and soul of a person. Clear Creek is intent on walking with people for the long haul.

Alright so, why the multi-campus approach?

Well, Clear Creek seeks not only to be a place people can come on the weekends to worship Jesus, but a community of believers that never turns off.

So, the strategy became creating opportunities; opportunities to come to church at a convenient location, where a family wouldn’t have to drive across town just to get to church; opportunities to join a small group in your own neighborhood; opportunities to be part of a visible impact in the surrounding area by meeting needs, showing support, and caring for people.

But what if we could see that happen, not just southeast of Houston, but beyond? What if we could see that same strategy for expansion all over the world?

I have good news: we can and we are!

On top of its commitment to reach the 4B Area (from the beltway to the beach, from the bay to Brazoria County) Clear Creek Community Church is committed to planting new churches.

In fact, Clear Creek has been directly involved in planting over 50 churches throughout greater Houston in the last 10 years in partnership with an organization it started for just such work, the Houston Church Planting Network (HCPN).

Clear Creek started HCPN to help train church planters as well as partner with other churches in the city that had a heart for church planting.

But maybe you have the same questions about planting churches as some people do about Clear Creek’s multi-campus strategy. You should know, Clear Creek’s commitment is to be a church that is committed to the great commission. To learn more about why Clear Creek plants churches, read the article “Why Plant Churches?” by Tim Keller.

But, this isn’t just something other people are doing, it’s something you can take part in as well.

Here are 5 ways you can personally support church planting:

1. Pick

Clear Creek works with a large number of church planters here in Houston and around the world. Consider picking one out to learn more about and discover ways to engage with the church planter and the new church. Read more about some of our current church planters we are working alongside here: 2020-2021 cohorts & 2019-2020 finishing residents.

2. Pray

After you pick a church planter to support, consider making them a regular part of your prayer life. Most church planters send out a regular church plant update with prayer requests. You can get on the distribution list for one of these planters so you know how to pray specifically for their church.

3. Partner

One of the greatest tangible needs of a church plant is resources to help get the new church launched. Consider coming alongside a church plant with a special gift or becoming a monthly supporter for a season. This greatly helps a church that is reaching new people with the gospel as it often could take multiple years for a new church to become financially self-sustaining.

Not sure of a specific plant to help support? Consider giving to the Clear Creek First Gifts Church Planting & Mission Fund (link to giving fund on clearcreek.org) which helps support church planters in Houston and around the world.

4. Promote 

A key component of church planting is meeting people. The church planter is always looking to meet new people and find ways to get word out about the new plant. Consider promoting the church to people you may know who live in that specific area, especially those that don’t know Jesus. Your social media promotion or call to a friend could go a long way in helping the plant form a community.

5. Participate

Consider actively participating in a new church plant. You could be part of a new church plant team. You could attend for a season, perhaps the first 6-12 months of a new church to help get it off the ground. Some people have gifts that would be especially helpful in the start-up stage.

Maybe it’s just showing up to serve on Sunday’s for a season to assist in a specific Sunday ministry area such as set-up and teardown, children’s ministry, or the worship team. It takes time for new plant to identify and develop people who will serve.

 

To advance the kingdom of God in our area and around the globe, church planting is vital. Grow your heart for church planting by getting involved with the church planting work here at Clear Creek Community Church.

If you’d like to get connected to any Houston church planters you can contact Chad Clarkson (cclarkson@clearcreek.org) or to find out more about some of our global church planters contact Kari Wilson (kwilson@clearcreek.org).


 

Serving in the Church: The Rachel Chester Story

“The thing is, even when volunteering doesn’t end up being the perfect fit, it is still a gift to serve Jesus and his people in any way. God is always, always, faithful to us when we walk through doors he opens.”

As told by Rachel Chester

Once upon a time I went to law school.

I had always known that this was the plan; this is what I was going to do. I really liked law school. I did well, and so I was recruited by some big law firms who offered some big salaries.

When I actually started practicing law, however, I realized that aptitude and vocation aren’t necessarily the same. I just didn’t feel like I was a part of something that matters. Eventually, I walked away from my legal job and decided to reevaluate my career path while my husband and I started our family.

A couple of years later, while staying home with my kids, I increasingly felt God was calling me into ministry. That felt strange to say, and sometimes still does. After all, what does that even mean? How did I know? Well, I didn’t have a lot of answers. All I knew was that the church, the body of Christ, and theology was all I thought about.

But, I am a woman, and honestly, I didn’t know what the possibilities were. I was not looking to become the next Beth Moore (as if I could), and outside of that, I didn’t know what it meant to be a woman and be in ministry.

So when I heard Bruce talking about developing a marriage and family ministry with counselors, I immediately thought, This! This is something I can do! This is a way to love and serve people and use the gifts God has given me for something that really matters.

I applied and began taking classes at Dallas Theological Seminary in the biblical counseling department. I loved every second of it. I loved learning more about theology and counseling, but the thought of actually getting my license and counseling clients all day began to make me nervous.

All the time I was surer of God’s call to be in ministry, but less sure of what exactly that was supposed to look like. The closer I got to finishing, the more frustrating this became. The truth was, I just wasn’t sure I would be good at counseling, despite my belief in the importance of Christian counseling and the insights the program was teaching me.

About a year ago, I asked one of our pastors to help me think through what ministry could look like for me. And, boy, did he! He made me list my gifts and strengths on his whiteboard and then sat down with me to discuss what this meant I should pursue. While we were talking, he described a position the church might need someone for eventually: a person who would manage content that the church was putting out. For instance, every article someone wrote for the church would go through this person. I honestly remember thinking, I hope he’s not looking at me right now because that seriously sounds like the worst. I don’t want to manage anything, but definitely not documents other people are putting together. Yuck, boring, and no. He moved on quickly and I forgot about it. It was a generous, intentional conversation and I was grateful for his time.

I thought that was that.

But it was just the beginning.

A couple of days later, I got an email from another one of our pastors saying he’d heard I might be interested in volunteering and that he had some ideas of how I could help.

So, I went in to meet with him, and he talked to me about this new ministry they were kicking off called Clear Creek Resources. Their hope was to have different types of resources available so that church at Clear Creek was more than just a conversation on Sunday; it would be a conversation that continued throughout the entire week and involved current events, deeper theological dives, marriage, family, devotionals – every aspect of our lives!

He said he needed help getting articles and podcasts going. It still seemed like a weird fit for me, more like organization (which I am terrible at), but, I said I would give it a try. I had decided a few years ago that when God opened a door, I would walk through it, regardless of whether I felt equipped for that particular door or not.

So, I did.

I did the best I could to generate ideas for podcasts and articles, to find people around the church who would lend their gifts, expertise, and stories for the benefit of the church, and to think of new ways to serve our church through this ministry. I wrote a few articles myself and was convinced to start hosting podcasts too, despite my hesitation.

It turns out, the door God opened was a really great fit. It was not easy immediately. It took patience and humility and second starts, but soon enough I realized that God had known where I was going even when I felt like I was walking blind.

So much of how God created me, the gifts he has given me, the experiences of my life, even my varied education, have equipped me for this particular ministry. Clear Creek Resources is everything I am passionate about: celebrating the beautiful diversity of Jesus’s church, collaboration and relationship between devoted believers, deep discipleship that affects every aspect of life, and compelling engagement with the world in the name of Jesus. I love that I get to work with so many people, I love encouraging others to use their gifts, and I love being a small part of something that builds the kingdom of Jesus.

I’m still learning. I’m still trying to find my way as I serve my family and our King. But serving in Clear Creek Resources is a great gift and I’m so glad I said “yes.” I am grateful to be part of this team, and even more, I am grateful for God’s abundant personal care and faithfulness in my life.

The thing is, even when volunteering doesn’t end up being the perfect fit, it is still a gift to serve Jesus and his people in any way. God is always, always, faithful to us when we walk through doors he opens.

I also serve in First Impressions – I have for many years now – and it still is not a perfect fit for me. I get nervous about meeting strangers, I’m not great at remembering names, and I’m pretty introverted. But, the people I serve with are great friends – family even – whom I treasure walking through life with. I love serving with them, and I also love that I get to see every person’s face who walks in the door to worship.

The fact that I’m not necessarily great at it?

Well, it’s just a reminder that God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness; that when I surrender to him and serve despite my shortcomings, he will use my meager offerings for his glory and the good of others, because of who he is, not because of who I am.

That’s what serving really is at the end of the day: an opportunity. An opportunity to play a small role in what he is doing; to surrender to him and then watch him work; where everything, our gifts and our weakness, are used as part of his great story.


God uses us all in different ways.

How can God use you to serve in the church?

Go to https://www.clearcreek.org/next-steps/serve/ to check out all of the serving opportunities.

You can also follow @clearcreekresources on Facebook and Instagram!

5 Ways to Love Teachers

Teaching is one of the most stressful jobs in the best of times. Teachers have to meet high expectations, often provide their own supplies, work early, and stay late. They love and counsel kids in addition to instructing them.

 

The restrictions and changes wrought by the pandemic have created an even more challenging and stressful environment for teachers. Many feel overwhelmed and under-supported. Class lists and rules are constantly changing, they are expected to fill even more roles, and many end up staying up late each night just to figure out how to adequately serve their students and meet expectations.

 

Teachers love what they do, but many are hurting, discouraged, and tired, especially right now. So, how can we come alongside them? How can we show them the patience and love of Christ when they are struggling?

 

I spoke with some of our teachers and they shared a few ways we can love and serve the teachers in our community today:

 

  1. Empathize

 

Teachers are trying to stay positive and make the best out of challenging circumstances, but things really are difficult and your empathy can go a long way. Know they are working more than they ever have, and believe that they care about your kids more than they can say. A simple way to show you understand their situation is to keep your kids at home if they are sick. Many teachers are worried about their own health, and showing them that you understand and appreciate their position is a simple and powerful display of empathy.

 

  1. Support

 

Teachers can always use help with school supplies, but right now that need is even greater. Ask your teachers if they have a wish list and then send them something with a supportive note. If you don’t have children in school, call a Title 1 school and find out what their needs are right now. Many schools and teachers are constantly running low on PPE and other pandemic supplies like hand sanitizer and Ziploc bags. Sending these necessities can ease one burden your teacher is facing this week.

 

  1. Stay Positive

 

Whether you are a parent, teacher, or  student, there is no doubt you will experience your own disappointment this fall. However, despite your frustrations, please do not post negative comments on social media. Before you post, or send an email, take time to think about the content and your tone. An angry or accusatory email can truly ruin a teacher’s week. It is always okay to try to make changes or ask for clarification, but just be careful and kind with your words.

 

  1. Encourage

 

Sharing a little love and appreciation will always encourage your teachers, and there are so many ways to do it. You can show your appreciation for their hard work by sending a coffee or lunch. Or maybe craft a quick email to acknowledge who they are and the great job they are doing. Little things matter: cookies, flowers, cards, or simply an encouraging word can change your teacher’s day.

 

  1. Pray

 

Teachers need our prayers now more than ever, so let’s cover them with constant prayer. Let’s pray for their safety and health. Let’s pray that they can find joy in their work. Let’s pray that they will learn to give themselves grace when they make mistakes and cannot do it all. Let’s pray that they find time for rest and fun. Let’s pray that they would know Jesus and rely on him now as they never have before.

 

 

Father, would you help us to love and serve our teachers well. We pray that they experience your love and protection during this season through our church community. We pray that they remember why they love to teach and that it would sustain them when teaching is really difficult. We also pray that they would be surrounded by encouragement and support as they navigate these uncertain and stressful times. Open our eyes to see opportunities to love and serve them daily. We pray that they would experience your presence and your peace, and find rest in your Son.

 

**Thank you to teachers, Sarah Paulk, Jennefer Arrington, Kirstyn Bullington, and Dalena Ryskoski for their contributions to this article.

Air Support

If you want to join the ongoing Hurricane Laura relief effort, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse to find more information and ways to get involved.


“I think God was telling me, ‘Hey, you have the ability, and you have the resources. You need to go do something.’”

– John Williams

On Sundays that aren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, you might find John Williams behind a camera during services at Clear Creek Community Church’s Egret Bay Campus.

Last Sunday, he was behind a different kind of service: helping deliver over 4,000 pounds of supplies to the people of Westlake in the wake of Hurricane Laura… via airplane.

 

 

 

 

John, a former Air Force pilot, co-owns and operates Flying Tigers Flight School at Ellington Airport, and says he got the idea on his way to work last week.

“I remember after Harvey, all the Cajun Navy guys showed up to help us out,” John said. “I’m driving to work, and I’m like, I’ve got nine airplanes. How about I load ‘em up and take them some stuff?

So, John and a few friends blasted out a request for supplies on Facebook, Instagram, and Nextdoor. And then the donations started coming in.

“Those donations came in from total strangers,” John said. “Random people would show up, and just be like, ‘I don’t know you, but here’s some stuff.’ People just came out of everywhere.”

A friend of a friend even got John connected to a lady who had volunteered to set up a distribution center for supplies and aid in Westlake and the surrounding area near Lake Charles.

On Sunday morning, John, his friend and neighbor, Warren, and flight instructors from Flying Tigers loaded up the five available planes, and flew the cargo to Westlake.

“When we got there, they met us with pickup trucks,” John said. “By the next day it was all delivered, it was all handed out. They said it was gone.”

But that wasn’t all.

While John and his team were there, they asked if there was anything else they could do to help.

“She said, ‘People haven’t had a hot meal here in a week.’” John relayed. “So we decided we’re going to do a little hot meal coming up this Saturday, the twelfth. It started as this small conversation, and then my buddy Warren says, ‘You know, Jesus fed 5,000. Let’s do that.’ I said, ‘You’re crazy. That was Jesus.’ He said, ‘No, let’s do it.’ So bottom line, we’ve been planning all this week and we’re feeding 5,000 people on Saturday in Westlake.”

John and his army of cooks and volunteers will leave the planes in the hangar this time around, hauling 450 pounds of meat and 400 pounds of noodles down I-10 and preparing the meal on site.

“God provides everything we have. It’s all his. So how do we use his resources that he’s given us?”

– John Williams

If you want to join the ongoing Hurricane Laura relief effort, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse to find more information and ways to get involved.


 

4 Hours in Orange

Like many others in the League City area, Jason and Melissa Davidson kept close tabs on updates on Hurricane Laura as it prepared to make landfall last week.

The Davidsons, who live in Friendswood and attend Clear Creek Community Church’s West Campus, had experienced the horrors of Harvey three years ago (almost to the day), and were preparing again for what they knew no could ever really prepare for.

But that was all before Laura spun away from Galveston and crashed into the Texas-Louisiana border as a Category 4 hurricane.

The Davidsons were left feeling relieved for their own home, family, and community, but knew that just a few hours away people were hurting and would need help.

 

“I kept seeing all my old Facebook posts of our house under water,” Melissa said. “[During Harvey] we had all of these people show up at our house, and 80 percent of them I didn’t even know their name. I don’t know what we would’ve done without that. What a blessing it was for our family.”

“Whether it’s a hurricane and someone’s house has four feet of water in it, or it’s a tornado and their house is obliterated, for everybody it’s kind of the same feeling, like, Whoa! What I’ve known for so long is now gone, and, Who is going to help me get through this? knowing very well that you can’t do it on your own,” Jason said. “A lot of times there’s remorse of not being in a situation to help them. But this being a little closer to home makes it easier to do, and to give the resources that I do have.”

So at 5 a.m. on Sunday, August 30, the Davidsons, along with their two boys (ages 11 and 8) loaded up the car, and drove to meet a few other families from Clear Creek at the Chick-Fil-A on I-45 and El Dorado, and then headed out to go try to help where they could in Orange, TX.

Once they arrived in Orange, the Davidsons and the rest of their crew met up with a friend from a church in nearby Beaumont who set them to work removing trees and debris from the roads.

Because many homes are still without power, the removal of fallen tree debris is one of the biggest current needs in the community so that electricians and other specialists can get to where they need to go in order to do their work.

“For them this wasn’t a flooding event,” Jason said. “They had a ton of high wind, so they had a tremendous amount of tree damage. I mean, huge, huge trees just toppled over with the roots and everything.”

In total, the Davidsons and company spent about four hours working on a five-block stretch of road in one neighborhood, enduring hot sun and a short rain shower.

They hopped in the car around noon and headed home, exhausted, but glad to have gone.

“These are our neighbors as the Bible refers to them,” Melissa said. “It’s difficult to put into words what it’s like when someone does something for you in a sacrificial way – time, money, sweat. They do that for you, and they don’t even know you.”

“I’m not just going there to help clear a tree or help someone move a piece of furniture or something like that. But, hopefully in the area we’re going into, the people go, ‘Wait a minute, these people don’t even live here. They don’t have a stake in this community. But they came all the way out here to help.’” Jason added. “For me, I care less about how much work I actually get done, and more about am I potentially helping to change someone’s heart?”

(Swipe to see more photos →)

The Davidsons were adamant that the work is not finished in Orange, Lake Charles, and the surrounding area, and that the opportunity will remain open for the foreseeable future as those affected by Laura begin to move forward.

“Don’t think this is just going to be a one or two-week thing,” Melissa urged. “If you couldn’t make it out there last weekend or can’t this coming weekend, I guarantee you in five weeks there will still be work to do.”

If you want to get involved, visit clearcreek.org/disasterresponse for a list of opportunities to serve including trips with Eight Days of Hope, ways to pray and give, and a list of needed supplies and where you can drop them off.

“I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they don’t have a skillset that’s not good enough,” Melissa said. “We’re not electricians or contractors or anything like that. But we do have hands and when people break stuff down, we can shovel, we can sweep, and we can help carry it away. There’s always something you can do… if you’re willing to sweat.”

041: The Sanctuary – Hope and Healing in Foster Care

God calls on his people throughout Scripture to protect the vulnerable and care for orphans. The Sanctuary offers a new kind of foster care service, designed to create healing, hope, and permanency for children and families.

Resources:

www.sanctuaryfostercare.org

Harding Adoption Story Podcast

Clear Creek Care & Support

039: How Songwriters Write Songs

Ever wonder how your favorite song came to be? On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with worship leaders Aric Harding and Tanner Smith about collaboration and the creative process that goes into writing a song. They also discuss the story behind Clear Creek Community Church’s latest song “Fighting Words.”

RESOURCES:

Fighting Words Music Video

Clear Creek Community Church Music

033: Loving Your Neighbor During a Stay-at-Home Order

Driven by the desire to love their neighbors with the love they’ve received in the gospel, many people are asking how they can serve the community during this season. Obviously, the answer to question isn’t so straight forward during a stay-at-home order. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen talks with Chris and Amy Alston about ways people are loving their neighbors already and how you can too.

RESOURCES:

Clearcreek.org/covid19

The Violin Boys: How Four Brothers are Spreading Joy Amidst COVID-19

It feels like the world has come to a screeching halt. People are stuck inside, left to mine the tumultuous caverns of social media and the bleak news on TV. Some without a source of income. Some with an ever-present fear of the virus making its way around the globe.

It’s scary.

It’s tedious.

It’s boring.

But, for four brothers on the west side of League City, it’s been an opportunity for them to use their gifts in a way they never expected.

“I told the boys I wanted them to do some kind of community service to help encourage people with everything that is going on,” Jennifer Keown said about her conversation with her four sons: Micah (15 years old) – a freshmen at Clear Springs High School – Caleb (12), Joshua (12) – who actually plays the viola – and Andrew (9).

The proposal: play violin driveway concerts for families in the community.

“They were agreeable to it,” Jennifer said. “But with teenage boys, you know, it can be hard.”

The boys felt a little shy about getting started, thinking most people probably wouldn’t want to listen to classical violin music, especially in the current state of things. So Jennifer posted about it on Facebook to gauge interest.

It didn’t take long for the responses to start rolling in.

“They were still unsure,” Jennifer said. “But then they actually played for people, and they started getting comments of just how thankful people were… And at the various places we would go, there might be other people we didn’t know who were around. You know, some neighbors, or some guys who were out mowing lawns or whatever that would end up listening to them, too. So that was kind of fun.”

They even got to play for a family friend with a daughter who has medical needs that put her in a high risk group for COVID-19. As a bonus, she is really interested in playing the violin.

The Keowns have now played at six different homes, and say they aren’t planning on stopping anytime soon.

“I just think it gives people a chance to see a familiar face, and someone smiling, and doing something besides thinking about this virus for just a few minutes,” Jennifer said. “So I think it’s just a way to spread joy, and to spread God’s love to other people. And to say, Hey, you don’t have to just sit at home and be afraid all the time. We can still do things that are fun and joyful and bring a smile to people’s faces.

“I think for kids, sometimes it’s harder for them. Because, even though they are kids, if they’re going to help somebody, they don’t want to do something that’s not actually helpful. I mean even real little kids, they realize the difference between doing something that’s actually helpful and doing something somebody says is helpful, because they’re a little kid.

“So, I think it’s been cool for the boys to be able to do something that’s actually brought joy to someone else. It’s real! It’s not something other people can easily do, because not everybody has that skillset. And so it’s been a good lesson for them, to just realize, Okay, I do have the ability to serve others in this. And it doesn’t have to look a certain way. It can be the thing that I’m good at.

After a day of playing violin in people’s driveways when they would have normally been at school or chosen to relax, Micah summed it all up in his own way.

“My oldest son always says, ‘Anytime Mom says, “Hey I’ve got a great idea!” that’s when you know it’s going to be a bad idea,’” Jennifer laughs. “But, on the way home, he said, ‘But this really was a great idea!’”

029: Serving in the Local Church – An Interview with Brad and Amy Thompson

Hundreds of volunteers serve each week at Clear Creek Community Church to help make ministries and services happen. Serving in a ministry area is a great way to connect with people around the church while using your skills and talents for others. Rachel Chester talked with Brad and Amy Thompson on the ups and downs of serving in a local church, discussing how serving has led them to a deeper faith in Christ and fuller understanding of what it means to be a part of community.

RESOURCES:

Find a place to serve!