Team’s efforts help provide growth opportunities for CCC

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

Congregational VitalityThe Strategic Ministry Planning Team has been meeting since May and has been working hard to use the information gathered by the Internal and External assessment teams and the PULSE assessment to help Community Covenant grow as a healthy missional church.

Some 199 people participated in PULSE in April, which gathered feedback on how those 12 and older perceived the church is doing on implementing the 10 Healthy Missional Markers.

The SMPT began meeting shortly after the assessment results were received and includes Lead Pastor Todd Michero, Kevin Halvorsen, Dave Wille, Denise Smith, Stephanie Eklund Stockhouse, Cary Moore and Mission and Discipleship Pastor Erika Whittington.

PULSE noted that Life Transforming Walk with Jesus, Centrality of the Word of God, Culture of Godly Leadership and Heartfelt Worship were among CCC’s strongest Healthy Missional Markers, Dave said.

“PULSE indicated we have a lot of people praying for their friends and neighbors, so this is a growth opportunity,” Dave said, relating prayer to the Intentional Evangelism Healthy Missional Marker. “We didn’t score high in that, but since we’re praying for others, we are one step away from reaching out to people who may be missing out on the hope and love we’ve found in Christ and at our church.”

According to Stephanie, PULSE also identified communication and small group ministries as areas in which CCC could further develop.

“Community Covenant Church has tried to increase the amount of information available to members of the congregation and visitors alike,” Stephanie said, noting that publishing The Community Covenant Calling is a new way for the church to tell its story. “There are also attempts to increase the information in the worship guide and eNews.”

The Vitality Pathways that offer small groups in both host homes and in class environments at CCC are yet another growth opportunity that’s developed through the discernment the Holy Spirit has provided the SMPT.

“The small group initiative that took place this fall was an attempt to provide more opportunities for people to get involved in homes for discussion and fellowship,” Stephanie said. “As we keep going in this process, the leadership of the church continues to look for ways to respond to ideas and needs that were expressed in the assessment.”

Dave said every member of the church can contribute to the team’s process of developing healthy missional ministries by being positive, being willing, being genuine and by showing they care.

“We need to invite the Lord to be part of the process—every moment—and wait, watch and listen. The Lord has so much to say in our hearts and through other people,” Dave said. “If we take our time and let the Lord guide us, we can’t help but get it right. And what we miss or mess up, the Lord is big enough and good enough to make the adjustments that are needed.

While improving church communications and establishing Vitality Pathways have made a difference, Stephanie said the team continues to prayerfully discern and act upon what the Holy Spirit communicates to its members.

“One of the things that has become increasingly obvious during the whole process of the Vitality Pathway is the importance of prayer. I used to consider prayer as something I did after I had tried to work things out on my own, or at best ask God to bless whatever it was that I or the church were planning to do,” Stephanie said. “Now I see the importance of prayer as crucial to the beginning, middle and end of any program or initiative. It’s truly the only way I can “keep my eyes on Jesus” as we learned in our biblical story in Matthew 14.”

According to Dave, some of the next steps for the team include developing Community Covenant’s mission and vision.

“We used assessments to objectively evaluate them and collect feedback so we could gauge support and refine them into statements we could all own together,” Dave said. “Next, we’ll be finding the words to articulate our values, and then we’ll develop church wide objectives that guide each ministry toward our goal of being a healthy missional church.”

Stephanie said she tries to keep the church’s past, present and future in mind as a team member.

“I’m the member of the group who has attended the church the longest, and I absolutely want to honor the commitment and vision that our ‘founders’ had 20-plus years ago,” she said. “However, I also think that God is calling us to go deeper in to our community, and we don’t want to stay where we are.”

Being a part of the team has been a memorable experience for Dave, who’s experienced and observed more than growth in the church.

“I’ve gained six friends that I love. I want to give them a hug when I see them, and I’m not normally a hugger,” Dave said. “My experience with the SMPT has been awesome. It’s amazing to see and hear the Holy Spirit at work.”

Although Stephanie mentioned nothing about hugging, she did say she’s found the experience of being on the SMPT rewarding.

“I’ve really enjoyed being part of this process and getting to sift through all the information brought forward to the church,” Stephanie said. “I love CCC, and I really do think we are ‘shifting’ into a deeper knowledge and relationship with God and His mission in Eagle River and beyond.”

Dave added that God has helped him see that Community Covenant is indeed part of His design for the world.

“I know God has got big plans for us. He’s given us a glimpse,” he said. “I can’t wait to hear about and see the things God does in and through our church. It will be great. We’ll get a glimpse of His glory, and get to feel life as it’s meant to be.”

More information on the Healthy Missional Markers is available at https://communitycovenant.net/church-vitality.

CCC achieves notable firsts along the Vitality Pathway

Workshops wrap with One, launch of Strategic Ministry Planning Team

By Mary M. Rall
Community Covenant Church

John Wenrich

Evangelical Covenant Church Congregational Vitality Director John Wenrich leads the One workshop April 11 at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. The workshop was the last of three the congregation attended as part of their walk along the Vitality Pathway. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

EAGLE RIVER, Alaska – Community Covenant Church isn’t the first to walk along the Vitality Pathway, but the congregation’s involvement in its workshops and the PULSE assessment have set it apart from all previously participating churches.

John Wenrich, the Evangelical Covenant Church’s Congregational Vitality director, said CCC is the first church in his nine years of teaching Congregational Vitality to have almost 40 percent of its regularly attending parishioners participate in the PULSE assessment, adding average participation is about 10 percent.

CCC had 199 people participate in the assessment, which gathered feedback on how those 12 and older perceived the church is doing on implementing the 10 Healthy Missional Markers, said Vitality Team Facilitator Debbie Bogart. The results of the assessment are being compiled by the ECC and will be provided to CCC in the upcoming weeks.

Wenrich said the church also stood out in the manner in which high schooler Nathaniel Swanberg participated in the Congregational Vitality process, as he’s the only teenager to ever attend all three local Vitality workshops.

“I want to know what’s going on,” Swanberg said of his workshop attendance, which included Veritas, EPIC and One. “I know what’s going on, so I can help with it and be involved with it instead of just seeing what’s going on.”

John Wenrich and Nathaniel Swanberg

Evangelical Covenant Church Congregational Vitality Director John Wenrich shares a moment with high schooler Nathaniel Swanberg during a break at the One workshop April 11 at Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. Swanberg is the only teenager to ever attend all three local workshops in the nine years Covenant churches have been walking the path toward Congregational Vitality. (Photo by Mary M. Rall/Community Covenant Church)

About 38 people attended the One workshop April 11 at CCC, which focused on unifying the congregation with one plan, as one people and with one language as the Strategic Ministry Planning Team prepares to discern how the Holy Spirit will help them interpret the results of the information gathered by the Internal and External assessment teams and the PULSE assessment.

“There’s something very endearing to the heart of God. He loves it when His people are one,” Wenrich said. “That brings a lot of glory to God when a church is united around a common language and a common plan.”

Lead Pastor Todd Michero said the selection of the team was determined following several months of independent prayer by himself, Bogart and Worship Arts Pastor Tyler Shaw to determine who God would have serve on the team.

“It was amazing – the unity – how the same names came forth,” Michero said. “Every single person who God spoke to us in unity about said ‘yes.’”

The Strategic Ministry Planning Team will be comprised of Michero, Kevin Halvorsen, Dave Wille, Denise Smith, Stephanie Stockhouse, Cary Moore and Prayer and Missions Pastor Erika Whittington, Michero said.

Denise Smith of Eagle River said she committed to participating, because she trusted what God communicated to those who prayed about who should serve on the team.

“I trusted that the Spirit worked through them, so I said ‘yes,’” Smith said. “Saying ‘no’ to them would have been saying ‘no’ to the Spirit.’”

Wenrich has been CCC’s main resource for understanding the Vitality Pathway, but he admits he doesn’t know what the SMPT will encounter over the next couple of months.

“The answers are in the conversations you’ll have as the Holy Spirit works and guides,” Wenrich said, adding that having a Strategic Ministry Plan is biblical and is exemplified in God’s perfect plan for creation, which includes the sacrifice of Christ for our sins, His return and the eternal salvation of His people becoming a reality.

Although One was the last workshop Wenrich will lead at CCC, he said Covenant churches in Fairbanks, Nome and the state village communities will soon begin their own walks along the Vitality Pathway.

Bogart has volunteered to help the Nome and Fairbanks churches facilitate their journey toward Congregational Vitality, Wenrich said, and Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska Associate Regional Field Director James Barefoot will be working with the village churches.

“The Vitality movement is literally moving throughout the state,” Michero said. “We’re on the forefront, and I’m just excited about that.”

More information on Congregational Vitality and the 10 Healthy Missional Markers on our Congregational Vitality webpage.

Take One significant step toward congregational vitality

We’ve made great progress along the Vitality Pathway and now find ourselves at a significant mile-marker in our walk as we prepare to participate in the One workshop Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CCC.  Learn More »

Our Biblical Story

On Sunday, February 15, we “unveiled” the story we chose to represent our church at this juncture. It is found in Matthew 14:22-33 – the story of Jesus in the storm, walking on the water.   Learn More »

External Assessment Team (EAT) dines on the mission field of Eagle River.

For months now Community Covenant Church has been on an adventure to becoming a more healthy and missional family. The External Assessment Team (EAT) has been honored to be part of that process.   Learn More »

November Update from the Vitality Team

“A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

Here at Community Covenant Church, we are in the process of encouraging Healthy Missional momentum as we learn how to “pursue Christ and His priorities in the world.”   Learn More »