Today we talk with Pastor Harry Demos about CCV’s More That Us Initiative. At CCV, we are a small church with a large vision to reach the entire Phoenix Valley for Jesus Christ. With nearly 4.7 million people in the Valley, many of whom are unchurched, we will not accomplish this goal alone. We will need MORE THAN US. By partnering with other Phoenix Valley Churches, together we will be able to share the love of Jesus more than CCV could do alone.
Christ’s Church of the Valley: https://ccv.church/
CCV Missions: www.ccv.church/missions
Pastor Larrie Fraley: linkedin.com/in/larrie-fraley-53445032
Ashley: [00:00:00] There's 4.7 million people in the valley. Even if God doubled our impact tomorrow and we were reaching over 70,000 people, do you know what percentage of the valley we'd be reaching? 1.5%. Is that big? No..
Larrie: [00:00:51] Welcome to another episode of Let's Go 360, a podcast designed to help you learn what God is doing around the world. And today with us is Harry Demos, a long time friend of mine, and he's been serving at CCV for 15 years now. Most of those years, Harry was the lead pastor of youth sports. And during that time, he took the Stars sports program from a several hundred to over 20,000 participants a year. Harry’s, a winner, which means he is not afraid to take on a new challenge. And recently, Harry has taken on a new role as the pastor of church growth. In other words, Harry gets to work with churches in our valley to come alongside them and do whatever it takes to help them get to the next level. Now today we're going to talk about More Than Us. And before we do, it's best to let our pastor, Ashley Wooldridge, describe what that program was and what happened years ago.
Ashley: [00:01:51] Our vision is to reach the entire valley for Christ. There's 4.7 million people in the valley. Even if God double our impact tomorrow and we were reaching over 70,000 people, do you know what percentage of the valley we'd be reaching? 1.5%. Is that big? No. So this is what I try to tell you all the time. And I just want to keep saying it until I sound like a broken record. We are not a big church. We are a small church with a big vision to reach this valley for Jesus Christ. And we're going to do everything we can to reach this valley. This Christmas, I want to cast a vision of how we can help other churches around us. If we want to reach our city for Jesus, it requires what? More than us? If we want to reach our city for Jesus Christ in our lifetime, it requires that CCV is not the only church that's thriving. It requires that every church in our city, we give an opportunity to thrive and grow and just let Jesus be known across our whole city. It has to require More Than Us. This Christmas, we're going to take up a special offering as a church. And listen to me, 100% of what you give will 100% be given away to churches that we've been working with around all of our campuses to help them grow.
Larrie: [00:03:41] Well, that was Pastor Ashley a few years ago. And now we have been able to see the fruit of what has happened. Listeners, you guys stepped up in a big way, and the result of that More Than Us campaign provided over $6 million to give away. And that's what Harry gets to do. Harry, welcome to the show.
Harry: [00:04:05] Thank you, Pastor. Great to be here with you. Like you said, we worked together now for a long time, and it's been all my pleasure.
Larrie: [00:04:13] Well, we're going to have another episode where you and I are going to get together and perhaps talk about those memories and that journey that we've had together, because it's been amazing. But before we get started with today's episode, tell us a little bit about your family.
Harry: [00:04:27] Yeah, we have five children, we have four biological kids and then we adopted a boy about 11 years ago out of the Stars program. He was an inner city kid, African American, from Liberia. So we have five we had our 12th grandchild just a couple of days ago. So God has blessed us enormously. I was 21 years in the electronics industry through the eighties, nineties and 2000. And I've I was coaxed over to CCV, not knowing what it was or what a Protestant church was. About 17 or 18 years ago when a guy named Larrie Fraley invited me to come over and do a coach's clinic the first year they had a Stars soccer program.
Larrie: [00:05:12] Now, I remember Harry from the days of our soccer coaching time that I did years and years ago. And we were both involved in competitive youth soccer in the Valley. And I knew of Harry and knew what a great coach he was and the results that he was he was having. And so it was an obvious first choice to talk with him about coming on to our program, because we really needed him and he stepped up in a in a really big way. And boy, we had a lot of memories and stuff we could share with the listeners today. But let's try to stay focused on More Than Us and see what God has been doing in this program. Why don't you share with us a little bit more about this guy named Moussa? I want you to share with our audience the time that you went to Africa and was working there. And what his parents did that shocked you?
Harry: [00:06:07] Yeah. Moussa was a refugee that had been brought over here from Liberia via Nigeria and through the sports program, we got to know the family a little bit. Obviously, the boy needed a mom and a dad full time. They were all left behind. And so it was just an awesome opportunity for our family to be able to take on a young man that we really had no intention of ever adopting or fostering. But God had different plans for us. And so when he was 13 years old, he came into our home surprisingly one afternoon when the lady he was staying with suggested that may be better if he stayed with us. And so that's been a blessing. We've learned a lot about mission work and about refugees and about those that don't have the same things we have. And I would just tell you, the blessing has been all ours, although many people say, wow, the many things you've done for him. Honestly, I would say the blessings have been on us more than anything. So it's been great for our family, great for our marriage, and it's helped me to be where I am today, working with churches and helping them grow.
Larrie: [00:07:16] Well, you and Fran should be very proud of Moussa and what you've been able to give into him and to play into his life. He's turned out to be an amazing young man. So tell us a little bit about More Than Us.
Harry: [00:07:32] Well, as you heard from Pastor Ashley, it was an initiative based on this concept of a senior pastor of wanting radical generosity. You know, he lives by Ephesians three, 23:21 that we can do immeasurably more with Christ than by ourselves. And he was just really heartfelt that we weren't moving the needle fast enough in our valley of almost 5 million people, that we had to get more people involved. So after we raised this money on a weekend, as Pastor Larrie said, it was really how do we give it away? And of course, our Missions department did a wonderful job trying to vet who those like-minded churches were that were really aggressively seeking evangelism in our valley. But then we had the pandemic, and then there was a lull. And so we picked this project back up again in the last 6 to 12 months. And what we're trying to do is we're just trying to ignite, we’re trying to be a catalyst in our valley for churches to help them grow. And so whether it's monetary funds, whether it's advice, whether it's praying for them, whether it's getting involved with them and giving them different tools, we want to be that church that helps other churches grow and have an impact on the valley. We are not satisfied with a couple of percent, if you will, of people that know Jesus.
Harry: [00:08:50] And we want 10%. We want 20% to transform our valley. We feel that that's the mark of 20% of believers across a community, that we can make a serious dent in the community and have transformation. So what we're trying to do is we're trying to utilize our More Than Us churches. We had a luncheon the other day. We gathered them all together. We shared a vision with them. And we want to start to do things that can create radical generosity, such things as how do we steward or share the items that we don't need any more? Do we just leave them in a closet or in a warehouse, or do we share them with other churches so that they can spend their time and money on their ministries, not worrying about how to acquire these different items? We want to share our talents, our best practices. We want to meet together. We want to encourage one another, and we want to do it at the grassroots level. Honestly, we're just trying to build unity through a radical generosity model, and we've got a four or five step process and we're very early in that process. But more than anything, we want people to share radically with others. We know that God blesses that.
Larrie: [00:10:00] Now. How many churches did you actually go and visit face to face?
Harry: [00:10:04] 30.
Larrie: [00:10:05] Wow. So you went out to 30 churches that participated in our More than US program. Tell us some highlights or a few stories about a few of those churches.
Harry: [00:10:17] Yeah, I think 100% basically said that they wanted to be part of something bigger than themselves. Many of the larger churches from that group were already involved in different leadership type senior pastor meetings on a monthly or quarterly or annual basis. But honestly, there wasn't very many that were involved in grassroots, day to day helping one another. And so they all wanted to be part of something. They all wanted kind of a church,I call it a big brother and sometimes comes off wrong. But they wanted somebody that can walk with them through these different cycles and seasons of their life. Most churches can get to 100 pretty easy. They can't get to 200. Some can get to 500. They can't get 2000. And they know that we've done that. And so they're looking for us to act as a leader. We don't want to tell churches how to run a church. We want to help those different churches, motivate themselves to be encouraged and have the tools where they can go do it themselves. And then consequently, we want them to lead five more churches or ten more churches in their sphere of influence. So the feedback's been great. They they've loved having us involved. They were a bit surprised. I think at first they thought that we wanted something or that we expected something in return.
Harry: [00:11:36] And I think it's been clear through our actions that that's not the case. And so that has helped to build our credibility and build trust. They really all want to get better, but they're all caught up in the day to day activities of running a church. And most of these senior pastors are of churches of 100 to 200 hundred. Some of them aren't even on payroll. Many of them do five or six jobs. Most of them have their whole family involved, and they're living off whatever is left over at the end for their church. So a lot of them are need that help. They need help in how to build volunteer teams, how to make processes more efficient, how to have better systems. And so part of what we're trying to do is to help them to grow in areas so they can have more time to spend in their congregation. But definitely 100% really want to be a part of something greater. And all of them want to share radically. They just don't feel like they have anything to share, which is totally wrong. And once we start talking about it, they all have something to share.
Larrie: [00:12:38] Yeah. When, when I was listening to a few of the stories there, I could sense that these, these pastors, they were amazed at being able to receive such a gift that they, in turn felt that they needed to go out and actually imitate that and duplicate that. And so what we saw in a couple of these churches is they began to be generous and to adopt this kind of radical generosity. And these small churches who had very little but did have something, was willing to give it away when it could have been just as easy for them to try to sell it and use the money for their for their campuses. But they didn't. They gave it away.
Harry: [00:13:18] Right. Right. I mean, within hours after our luncheon and after the inspiration of Pastor Larrie and Pastor Ashley, we had one church, that heavy Hispanic church in the south part of town. They immediately sent me a picture of trash cans that were new, that had been given to them by a large corporation, but they did not need as many as were given. So immediately they sent a picture, said they would be happy to share it with any of the churches. And within the next day we had other churches going to pick them up or inquiring about the items. We had another church that needed some recording space capacity, and we had provided some funds to one of our medium sized churches in the area who had put a really nice recording studio in. And by connecting the two churches together, one was helping the other do something they couldn't have done before and was with no involvement from CCV.
Larrie: [00:14:16] Yeah, I'm familiar with that church and their studio now is being shared by other churches in the Valley who could not afford to put that nice of a studio which just upped the game of the churches and improved their quality of worship and quality of service and took it to a whole new level. Now, you mentioned something about a luncheon that we just had. Could you share with our listeners what that was all about?
Harry: [00:14:40] Yeah, we simply brought these 30 churches together. We shared a meal together. It was very casual, shared a little bit about the vision of our radical generosity and why we did what we did, but how we need all of them to really get going. We gave a bit of motivation and encouragement to everybody who shared a few stories from each of the churches that had been affected by the initiative. And at the end of the day, we took some input as to what it was that this group wanted from the group and our leadership so that they could do their job better in their churches. And so we've met since then. We're looking to actually build an app that we are now kind of internally calling share by or Move it Forward Marketplace or Bless it Forward Marketplace. We haven't come up with a name, but basically we want a place where each church can virtually put different assets, hard assets, soft assets, services, best practices. We want a marketplace locally, but on an app where we can share all the things we have. So if we can get to the point at every church where whatever we develop or build for ourself, we're constantly thinking about how can we give that away to somebody else? Because that's really what Jesus did, right? Everything He did, he was constantly doing for others so that then they could pass it on. And so that's what we're trying to accomplish. We're trying to build an app, we're trying to establish a conference that we're internally calling unconference because we don't want any monetization on anything we do. So even with this share app, there'll be no money exchange. So if somebody gives somebody 500 shares, there's no money. If somebody gives a microphone, there's no money. If we have a conference, there's no fees. We want to get to the point where everybody is radically generous with everything they have, hard and soft assets and we can share it so people can be more productive, so we can do the kingdom effort of evangelism can go further.
Larrie: [00:16:41] I know when we teach, When Helping Hurts, here in our Missions department, one of the principles that that is taught in thou in more than us programming and training is that every church, every person and every community, every village has assets, no matter how poor they are. And when you sit down with the people that live in these different communities, in this case the church, and just talk about what assets do you have? They sometimes think, well, we don't have any assets, but yet when they really start doing the analysis, you end up with a list of assets on a whiteboard that can easily be shared or given away to someone else. And so every church is faced with a similar problem as new things come into the church, whether, as you said, Harry, like chairs, for example, you may have some older chairs that you'll need to get rid of. Those chairs would then go into this database and be available for other churches to use, right?
Harry: [00:17:41] Correct. Exactly. And we want to evolve that to soft assets. Maybe it's counseling advice. Maybe it's somebody needs a drummer on a weekend, maybe somebody needs some pastoral care that somebody can provide. Maybe it's advice on how to build online streaming, how to program in a Hispanic community. So what we really want is that everything we all either have or are going to develop, we want to share it with other people so that the Kingdom of God can be spread throughout the valley quicker.
Larrie: [00:18:16] And that applies for our listeners as well. There may be professionals who are retired, let's say a retired CPA who is wanting to do a little more and be a little more significant with their life now that they're retired, to be able to offer your services, the CPA services, to one of these churches who can't afford a CPA is maybe an example of how our church listeners could actually get involved. So we're excited to where God is going to take this More Than Us program because it clearly has turned into something more than us. And as Pastor Ashley, so, well articulated, we can't do it alone. We're but a mere sliver of what is really needed just here in our valley. And we're hoping that this model starts at a at a grassroots level right here, and that there's a movement that starts. And this model could be adopted in other cities by other churches across the country and perhaps even the world. Well, Harry, I'm so thankful for you being able to join us today. And we're going to have you back on to talk about where God has taken this, this ministry, this More Than Us, let's say, in another six months, because there are some significant plans that are being made right now and people are excited. I know those churches left…Pastor Ashley I actually saw a tear in his eye as he was listening to the testimony of these churches, of what a difference this gift has made. And those gifts come from one place. Of course it comes from God, but it comes from the listeners of this podcast and so CCV, Thank you. You have made a huge difference in the lives of the churches that we're involved with and will continue to make a difference. Well, Harry, thanks. How can we pray for More Than Us before we close?
Harry: [00:20:13] I think we can pray that all of the churches become more humble, become more God centered, and they put all of their resource toward winning people for Christ.
Larrie: [00:20:25] Well, we'll certainly do that. And thank you for joining us today and thank you listeners for joining another episode of Let's Go 360.