Thursday, April 18, 2013

Confirmation Sunday

I remember the day. Eight of us lined up in the front of the old, historic church. The boys wore ties. The girls wore dresses. We all wore white robes. Our grandparents were so proud. Our parents took pictures with their Kodaks and Polaroids. The preacher tried to tell a few jokes and stumbled through our Scandinavian names the best he could. 

And then it happened: He laid his hands on my head and said: Craig, may the Holy Spirit work within you, that having been born through water and the Spirit, you may live as a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. Remember your baptism and be thankful. Amen.

I’ll say these exact same words this morning—many times. It doesn’t matter if the person saying this blessing is a saint or a scoundrel—it only has to do with God and the one being prayed for. And what a blessing it is. 

I don’t remember much about that day. We had sandwiches and salads for lunch. Those eclectic fruity Jell-O salads with shredded carrots and chopped celery covered with a bizarre blend of cream cheese and Cool-Whip. I didn’t attend church or participate in ministry much the next few years. I remember going four years later on graduation Sunday. Standing up front with the exact same friends and a different preacher stumbling through our last names. 

The next time all of us gathered in the church was about twenty years later. I stood in front of the crowded church wearing a black robe and a stole around my neck. Two of the others sang some of the most heartfelt and compassionate music I remember hearing. At the end of the worship service, I went and laid my hand on the beautiful casket and said a different blessing: May the Lord bless you and keep you; may He make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; may He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace. Nothing quite like the church. It connects us to God who gives us abundant life in this world and eternal life in the world to come. 

Today is a great day at The Water’s Edge: We welcome our second Confirmation Class. These twenty students have learned, worshipped, and served together. They have been equipped with the tools necessary to help them thrive as a disciple of Jesus. Confirmation Sunday isn’t the end of a journey. It is the beginning. We have great big dreams for a student ministry that deeply impacts the lives of our students and students in our community. To the Confirmands: you are not only the future leaders of our church. Your ministry has already started: sharing the grace of Christ with people in your life and in God’s world. 

The best is yet to come…


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Prayer Circles

Last Sunday we began a new series: The Circle Maker. It is about dreaming big, praying hard, and thinking long. Last week’s message was about dreaming big dreams and praying bold prayers—things in our life that can only happen with God’s help. I encourage us to clearly define big dreams in our lives: personally, family, and in ministry to the world.

I want to share a few things I am praying hard for regarding our congregation:

Sunday Evening Worship 

Last week our leadership team and staff unanimously voted to start a Sunday evening worship experience beginning on September 8th. We will worship at Palisades Elementary School on 168th Street between Cornhusker and Giles. This will be one of our biggest endeavors as a congregation so far. Our aim is to reach new people and lead them into a growing relationship with Christ. The message will be the same as Sunday morning, but the worship experience will most likely be different. I ask you to join me in praying for this new service. If you are interested in serving on the leadership team for this service an informational meeting will be this Thursday evening, April 18th. Email if you are interested in attending. 

Leadership Development Academy 

Our Easter attendance was 1,300 people—up 45% from last year. That is great news! During that same time our leadership hasn’t grown 45% so our current leaders are carrying a heavier load. The Leadership Development Academy will train and equip new leaders at The Water’s Edge so that our growth is sustainable, to prevent the burnout of existing leaders, and grow committed followers of Jesus. The Leadership Academy will start in August and I’m already so excited! It will be an 8 month program that meets once or twice a month. Participants will learn about prayer, discipleship, financial and personal stewardship, how to lead small groups and serving teams, how to share our faith in authentic and non-threatening ways, and how to serve outside the church in the larger community. If this is something you are feeling led to participate in, pray about joining us in the fall. If you are ready to register—we will probably limit this to 25 people—you may do so by emailing  

Women’s and Men’s Ministry 

Teams are being created for both men’s and women’s ministry. We have a number of men’s and women’s small groups, but the time has come for encompassing men’s and women’s ministries to enable men and women grow in their faith development, to help men and women deal with issues specific to their gender, and to allow men and women to develop healthy relationships with others. If you are interested in leading or serving in one of these ministries, email (men) or (women). 

The best is yet to come… 


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Recap and Sunday Night Worship: Coming this Fall

Easter Recap 

Earlier this week I was reflecting on our four Easter worship experiences. It was an incredible day that began in the dark on a residential property overlooking our future church campus. Six hours later, the trailer was being pulled away from Millard West. During the morning 1,300 people worshipped God and celebrated that when Jesus touches dead things they become alive again. This is an increase of 46% over last year!

Sunrise over Omaha

Two reasons exist for this: 

1) The Water’s Edge is a church consisting of the most committed, compassionate, and creative people I know. Many people and families volunteered all morning. Others volunteered for an hour. Some played music. Others held babies, passed out bulletins, served donuts, unloaded stuff, loaded stuff, directed traffic, and ran sound and media equipment. Whenever the people of the church have been challenged to rise to the occasion—you all have not only met the challenge—you have exceeded it with excellence. 

2) WE have some great people and WE have an even greater God. His faithfulness and generosity are abundant. His grace is sufficient. And, He has even greater plans for our future together. 

During the sunrise service, I looked over all the people who were singing and watching the sunrise over Omaha. I looked down at our future property and was thinking in a few years it will be Easter. The parking lots will be full of cars, our sanctuary and gathering areas will be full of people, and the property will be full of excitement.

Harpist Kimberly Meyer and bass player Jeff Kahler

Sunday Night Worship – Coming this Fall 

On Monday evening, April 1st, (this isn’t an April Fool’s Day joke!) the leadership team and the staff voted unanimously to start a Sunday evening worship service beginning this fall. Here is what we know: a) We will have the same message on Sunday evening as Sunday morning although the style of worship will mostly likely be a little different, b) We will reach new people who aren’t able or willing to come on Sunday mornings, c) We will be providing another worship option for those have activities or are travelling on Sunday mornings, d) The new worship service will have very little impact on what happens on Sunday mornings, and e) We don’t want this worship service to disrupt any small groups—if your small group meets on Sunday night—keep meeting on Sunday night Sunday works best. 

If you are interested in serving on a leadership team to help launch this service—let us know by emailing Our first meeting is going to be in the next few weeks. You will be on the ground floor of something that is going to be great. 

The best is yet to come…