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A Creative Missions Side Story

Two days before everyone was to arrive in Albany, NY for the very first Creative Missions trip, an overwhelming feeling of sadness hit me.

Relationships built over the past 8 months with the churches and association we’d be serving would soon come to a halt to make room for next year’s focus area, if the trip was successful.

These guys had been a part of my daily thoughts and prayers. We got to know their families, personality types, quirks, sense of humor, the areas they served, etc.

Teaming with Churches

See, long before any teams set foot in the area, Creative Missions was already teaming with the churches to gain their trust. In fact, several core leaders visited the area when we first targeted Albany – Phil Bowdle, Michael Buckingham, Andy Burns, and I.

Once we all agreed this was an area that needed our help, Andy and I went on a separate trip to visit 17 churches on their turf during a 3 day weekend. If you’re familiar with the movie Tommy Boy, then you have a good visual of the trip, minus the break pad demonstration.

Seeing the church leadership at their wits end, and in some cases in tears, just fueled fire on the God-given passion to help churches communicate better.

We played “good cop, good cop,” made new friends, and ultimately accessed initial needs for each church.

Earned Trust = Success

Looking back, those first two trips were critical to the success of Creative Missions – like a one-two punch. The relationships we built early on with pastors helped to earn their trust. When their team showed up to serve last week, trust wasn’t an issue because it had already been gained through an 8 month relationship. They trusted we weren’t going to set them up with a bunch of yahoos .

The pastors were eagerly awaiting their team’s arrival, and were ready to get to work when we got to Albany. Everyone was set up to win.

A quick snapshot…

I already had high expectations for the Creative Missionaries, but I was blown away by how much everyone poured into helping churches in such a small amount of time.

  • Almost 700 hours worked between all Creative Missionaries
  • 6 websites built
  • 3 church logos created
  • Most of the churches are now able to record and post their sermons
  • Two churches had worship presentation software installed – thanks to EasyWorship and ProPresenter
  • At least one awesome invite video was made
  • 5+ churches now have Facebook Pages (Eric Murrell was a rockstar with getting churches excited about using Facebook)
  • Lots of other goodies including invite cards, signs, tech setups, etc.

We did it!

Jeff LeMaster “The Pastor of Disaster” (nothing bad, just a nickname given to him by another area pastor), walked through the door during the last night of workshops we offered.

He made a b-line towards me. Jeff had the biggest grin I’d ever seen on his face (and he smiles all of the time). I could tell he was very happy. In fact, all of the pastors that night had a different countenance about them.

He immediately poured his heart out about how the Creative Missions team serving his church had huge servant hearts and had gone above and beyond, working hard to complete their daunting wish list. He went on to say how he added up an estimate of what that would have costs if they had to pay someone. Jeff was blown away by how much we gave away.

It was a high-five moment.

In the end, what I heard was, “We did it… together” because that’s really what it was – The trifecta of 8 months of building a relationship, their passion for their community, and our team’s passion to help them communicate their passion, better.

I’m definitely going to miss those guys, but between Facebook, a successful inaugural trip, and discernment our paths will again cross someday, it’s definitely easier to focus on how God will use this experience to impact other churches inside and outside Albany, NY.

* Post photo – left to right: Sean Pierce (Director, Hudson Baptist Association), Andy Burns (Video Director, The Chapel and my “wing man”), and me.
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  1. Chuck Scoggins (Reply) on June 2nd, 2011

    Great recap, Cleve! Thanks for going ahead of us and establishing the trust-relationship. It certainly made all the difference as we were able to walk in and get right to work.

    It made me think about how I serve the members of our staff (and non-paid ministry leaders) at our church. It was a great reminder that they need to feel secure in the fact that I’m their biggest fan before we can begin to work on their communications needs. It’s always easier to walk in and give (often un-solicited) advice when I already have a relationship of mutual-trust with them.

    This might be one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a leader and as a departmental director. Thanks again for the reminder, and thanks again for all you’ve done with and thru this trip!

  2. Danielle Hartland (Reply) on June 2nd, 2011

    That picture rocks!

    You guys truly did set the stage for us to come and serve these churches. I could tell that they already trusted us by the way they were willing to just jump right in and get working. We had nothing to prove and didn’t need to argue them into anything. It was incredible.

    They trusted us because they trusted you.

    Thanks for being an incredible leader, Cleve.


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