Camp Fire Update From Luke Buyert & Chad Fransen

I want to give you an update on our progress in helping Camp Fire survivors and utilizing the resources NextGen and their donors have shared with us. It has truly been a privilege to serve and share God’s love with the people and churches affected by the fire. Our approach to serving has been multifaceted.

I (Luke) am the lead pastor of Lifespring Church, a small but growing NextGen church plant in Chico, our church has been very active in Camp Fire Relief. We have helped over 40 families with financial grants and through the generosity of others. In addition to financial help, we are attempting to build relationships with many of these families. We are starting a second round of reaching out to those families we have helped, checking in to see how we can support and pray for them.

Chad and I will be using some of the NextGen funds to start a Pastor Care Grant. We have been meeting one on one with pastors whose churches and or homes were affected by the fire. We have a list of about 20 pastors with which we need to connect. Some of them we know and some we are just getting to know. As we meet with these pastors, we listen to their stories, pray with them, and we also offer them a grant of $1500 to help them find ways to stay spiritually and emotionally refreshed. In return, we ask them to give us a report of how they used the funds. One example is Alfredo Romero pastor of a church plant near Paradise. Alfredo and his wife lost their home to the fire. When we me with Alfredo, he shared that 8 of the church’s elders lost their homes as well and just a few months before the fire the church lost the only other pastoral staff member to a heart attack. It has been a tough year for them. However, they are staying encouraged and focused on what God is calling them to do. When Alfredo told his wife about the Pastoral Care Grant , she burst into tears and was overwhelmed. She knew they desperately needed this. We are praying God will use this gift to help their family stay encouraged and continue to lead well. Please pray for Alfredo, his family and their church.

I (Chad) am the lead pastor of Orchard Church in Chico and with the funds from NextGen we were able to help Tyler and Dana Mack find a new place to live. Dana is the Director of the youth group at Orchard Church. The Mack’s lost their home in the Camp Fire as did Dana’s parents. Dana and her husband Tyler were on a missions trip to Mexico and returned to find their home completely burned to the ground. This was especially devastating to them because they are foster parents and need permanent housing in order to keep their adorable foster daughter Juniper. With the donations from NextGen, and after months of searching , the Mack family was able to find a house 25 minutes from Chico (A miracle). The beautiful part is the house has a garage where Dana’s parents can live. Since moving into their new home, Dana and Tyler have added four more foster kids to their family. Thank you. this house is a HUGE blessing!

Along with our pastoral duties, Chad and I have joined with four pastor from Paradise and three pastors from Oroville to form the “Camp Fire Pastors Response Team”. We are working together and praying for God’s direction in how our churches and communities can collaborate on Camp Fire recovery work. By working together, I believe we will have a greater impact than anything we could do alone. Some of the projects we are considering are work projects, events, and emotional care efforts. We are seeking God’s wisdom on which ones to pursue.

I (Luke) have taken on the role as a member of the executive board for the Camp Fire Long Term Recovery Group. I am part of a team of 10 people who are leading the community effort to collaborate on the recovery process and plan. The LTRG is a cooperative body that is made up of representatives from faith-based, non-profit government, business and router organizations working within a community to assist individuals and families as they recover from disaster. We have about 75 organizations in our group. I am interacting on a daily basis with leaders from FEMA, CalOES, American Red Cross, local businesses, other faith based groups and churches from the area. We are working on ways to assist the most vulnerable families in recovery. I personally am involved in two additional committees, Spiritual and Emotional Wellness Committee and the Donations Management Committee. To this point it has involved a lot of organization and planning, but in the near future we see real opportunities to help people in big ways.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers as we are just now coming into some of the most difficult seasons in the recovery process. The road ahead is so long and many people in our community are feeling discouraged. Experts tell us this is normal, but that the toughest part is the next few months. Many families face tough decisions about staying in the area or being forced to relocate. There are issues that make their decisions complicated. One issue is clean water, it is estimated that clean water will not be available in Paradise for 2 years. We want to continue to represent Christ well to our community and follow his lead We know that God is doing good things in the midst of tragedy. I met a pastor last Friday who lost his home to the fire and whose church is struggling to make it in Paradise, but they are using their building as a resource center for families to get water and clean up kits. He shared that in the last 4 months they have seen 120 people come to faith in Christ through the resource center. God is at work and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve!

Silver Spur Building Project Update

Despite several weeks of rain and snow, progress continues on Silver Spur’s new 320- seat worship center. The outer shell of the new facility is nearly complete with only porch roofing still needing to be installed. Tradesmen have been working the past two weeks on the rough plumbing, ventilation and electrical with hopes that insulation and drywall can be hung soon.

Outside the building, crews have tapped into the camp’s main water system and will soon be installing a fire hydrant and back-flow prevention system to service the building. Once the ground dries, work will begin on the hardscape around the front and side of the building. John Brawn, a volunteer whose organization has been using Silver’s Spurs facilities for over three decades, has been working with the camp staff on the design of a stage lighting and sound system. The camp hopes to enlist the help of other volunteers to install the system once drywalling and painting have been completed. While there is no date certain as to when the facility will be completed, it is hoped that the camp’s summer groups will be able to enjoy the new facility in air-conditioned comfort.

Currently, $70,000 is still needed to complete and furnish this much anticipated facility. Please consider making a pledge or donation today as we prepare for the next 50 . Donate Here

Thanks for your support.

Vic Connor

Executive Director

A Message From Craig Hardinger, Executive Director

Hello! I know I’m stating the obvious but it must be said - these are exciting times.  Exciting, but not in the way of unicorns and rainbows or another SF Giants’ pennant.  The kind of excitement to which I’m referring has to do with the mission of God.   At the risk of channeling Eeyore, perhaps we could agree that this world appears to be getting darker.  The outrage, vitriol and across-the-board devouring of each other appears to be accelerating at warp speed (yes, I’m a Trekkie).  In view of that trend, would it not stand to reason that the light of Jesus’ followers must be ever brighter? And wouldn’t you agree, the work that must be done in your fellowship can only be enhanced when combined with other like-minded local fellowships?  

 I suppose that’s the primary reason why I am so excited about the association of NextGen Churches.  As the new Regional Executive Director, it is my sincere pleasure to serve the churches of Northern California/Nevada and to carry out the mission God has for us - together.  Our former director, and now President of CBAmerica, Dave Whitaker reestablished for us a network of churches – new and old – that are prepared to take on the next season of church planting and revitalization.  It is my privilege to carry on the work God accomplished through Dave’s leadership.  When you get the chance, please take the time to thank him. Through his influence and pastor’s heart, Dave tilled up a lot of ground that is now Gospel-ready.  

 Fellow NextGeners, we exist to be a pebble in the shoe of our culture.  We may look insignificant -   inconsequential even - kind of like a pebble.  But when God’s people live out the presence of Jesus - individually, locally, regionally and globally - lives change. (Acts 1:8)  The task of being a Christian is growing more difficult. Therefore, as leaders of local churches, it is imperative that we train, equip and encourage our individual congregations to stand firm in the beauty of Jesus Christ and his heart-transforming, mind-blowing Gospel.  I’m thinking we can do that more effectively locally if we band together regionally.    

 Can the work be done as individual churches?  Sure! I think it’s probable that each of us church leaders has a little Lone Ranger just dying to bust out – free from the confines of boards and oversight.  Yes, it’s true we can fulfill whatever God has for us individually. But think of the damage that could be done to the systems that produce nothing but broken lives if we band together for the sake of Christ and his Gospel.  I get absolutely energized to know that such a gospel and the fellowship of the saints serves as a one-two punch to the throat of the kingdom of darkness.   

 I encourage you to join with NextGen Churches.  If you would like to kick the tires a bit and take the association for a test drive, I can’t think of a better place than at our Leadership Gathering May 6-8.   Each year this gathering has become a respite for me along with the staff I lead at Arcade Church. It is also a very active reminder that we are not alone.  I am not waxing hyperbolic when I say, because of the fellowship of NextGen Churches, I am a better equipped pastor and Arcade Church is a far more effective fellowship. 

 Since I’m so new to the role of Director, my goal in the next few months is to get to know you.  Lord willing, I will visit your general community this coming year and would love to spring for a cup of coffee at your favorite spot.   If you’re thinking about partnering with NextGen then I would love to have an initial phone or skype conversation with you.  Please don’t hesitate to call or email.  You can reach me at 916-489-3900, or by email.

I know it’s cliche, but it’s so true - we really are better together.

 Craig Hardinger

Regional Executive Director

Lead Pastor Arcade Church