Email number 3

This is the third email in our series:

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I have been trying to figure out how to explain the connection between the last email (about community) with this one (about New Life Ranch). A long time family friend, Boxley, pointed me to a very elegant way of explaining this. Boxley works for an organization called CrossWorld. These ideas are straight from their web site. They have three core values: We Worship, We Love, We Go.

So, first we must worship God in full dependence on him. We Love is where community come in; “Godly worship spills over into a life of caring community. We show and tell each other the love of Christ. Mutual care means servant leadership – eagerness for accountability in holiness – carrying one another’s burdens.” We Go is ministry; “Godly worship and mutual care spill over in mission. So we enter into ministering relationships with the people we serve and to whom we preach Christ. Because God loves us, we pursue the hearts of the world.”

So at New Life Ranch our community’s “go” is this: “To proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to equip believers for ministry.” This is the mission of New Life Ranch, and it is the reason this community of people exists, it is the thing we have in common and all work toward. NLR accomplishes this in several specific ways. The attached pdf explains the seven areas of ministry that we engage in, and the web site (www.newliferanch.com) has even more info. Our big distinctive is that we concentrate on relationships. Summer Camp is a lot of fun, but it is really designed to allow counselors to develop meaningful relationships with campers, and ultimately we want these relationships to point to Jesus. Our Retreats ministry focuses on developing relationships and partnerships with group leaders so they can minister to their participants.

Right now this all sounds to good to be true. Sometimes this stuff works really well. Sometimes we are really all humble and fully dependent on God, fully engaged in His work in this world, we really do support each other, and great ministry happens. Other times we act like the fallen people we are. We are selfish, lazy, gossipy, whatever, people. Most of the time there is a big mix of the two. In the end its not up to us anyway. It is God who will glorify Himself through the ministry of New Life Ranch.

CrossWold has one more part to their values: “Then we rejoice together as they worship, they love, and they go” This is the fun part! To celebrate the lives that have been changed by Jesus Christ though the ministry at NLR. It is an honor to be a small part of all of this.

Ben and Beth
http://www.benandbethwest.com

email number 2

This is the second email we sent out…enjoy!

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We want to let you know what NLR does, and what our specific roles are in this ministry. But that’s for next time. First, we want to talk a bit about an underlying idea that affects everything NLR does. This is the idea of community (sort of a buzz word right now…but it is still important!).

People talk about community a lot. Churches, schools, Starbucks and New Life Ranch all want to, and some times do, have a strong sense of community. We are not sure exactly what community means, but we are learning. We are part of several groups of people who call ourselves comminutes. Beth is part of the counseling program at JBU. We are part of our church, The Grove, and we are part of the full time staff of New Life Ranch.

It might be tempting to think of community as a neighborhood. A lot of people who live in the same area and may occasionally hang out and share their tools. But it is more than that. Community is lived out through sharing cars, early morning bike rides, hosting summer staff in our homes, mowing each others yards, shared meals. It is not uncommon for us to be in somebody’s house hanging out when the family that lives there is not even home.

But in some ways these are the superficial results of community. It comes from having a boss who is our friend, who invests in us on a personal level, who wants to see us succeed. It is the result of being willing to drop what we are doing to help somebody in their job. It is the result of meeting together to pray and study God’s Word, of sharing our successes, joy, sorrows, struggles, and failures with each other. Even these things though are only the result of something deeper, something bigger. We are connected by Jesus Christ, by our commitment to see God glorified on Earth. It happens that God is using us for a season at New Life Ranch to accomplish his work. These are the things that truly connect us.

The community of New Life Ranch is small. There are around 50 people that live at camp. These fifty people are the full time staff and their families, and form the core of our family here. The community is also huge, there are thousands of people who come through the Ranch every year. We send the New Life News (the camp newsletter) to over 11,000 people. We want campers to feel like they are a part of this place, we want summer staff to know that they have a second home here that they can always return to. We want youth pastors who bring their churches here to know that we are partnering with them in ministry, and that they are an integral part of what we do. This extended community is made up of the campers, staff, pastors, supporters, volunteers, mentors, and families who are connected to New Life Ranch. While they do not come into our homes (at least not often…) they are the extended family of New Life Ranch.

This community is foundational to how we do ministry at NLR. We feel like it is important for you to understand this idea before we get into what NLR does, and what we do at NLR. In our next email we will get into more specifics about our roles in the community of NLR.

Updates

We are trying to be more intentional about updating people on what is going on in our lives, instead of the usual one page newsletter we thought we would just send out a bunch of emails. We will post them here as well if your interested. Here is the first one:

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Hello All (no hiding it, this is a mass email to lots of people!),

We wanted to spend some time updating you on our lives. The challenge of telling you about everything that is going on in a single email is a bit daunting, so we though we would break it up. Over the next several weeks we are going to send out a few emails to give you an idea of what we are doing at NLR, our church, with school (for Beth), and life in general.

There are a few reasons we want people to know what is going on with us. First, you are friends and family, so we thought we would fill you in on what we have been up to. Our second reason is centered around our jobs and ministry. We want people to know what is going on at New Life Ranch, and what roles we play in that ministry. We are excited about what is going on here and we want to share that with you! We want you to pray for us and this place, perhaps you might even decide to come to Family Camp or send your kids to Summer Camp. We also want to be open and transparent about our needs and struggles as members of our community, and as missionaries who ask people to give us part of our salary.

We want to respect your inbox space, so if you would rather not get these emails just let us know (really, we won’t be offended or have our feelings hurt!), otherwise, we look forward to filling you in on what is going on in our lives. If you want to read about some of what has been going on with us recently we keep a website with occasional updates at http://www.benandbethwest.com.

Ben and Beth