The longer you’re involved with Christian Encounter, the more you see the lasting results of the Ranch ministry: lives changed and hope restored. Student stories fill our minds and impact our hearts, and each one affirms that what happens here yields eternal and incalculable benefits.
Now it’s time to reinvest in how we do this great work. Over the past year we’ve been gearing up for a significant push to overhaul the CEM property and facilities. Our goals include lowering overheads, displaying exceptional stewardship, and of course enhancing the experience of every young person who comes on property.
...we’ve broken down a number of the projects in the Master Plan that we’re currently working toward. This is a time of important and strategic investment--and it’s fun, too! It’s fun to see the small army of volunteers and donors that have already come together to accomplish big jobs. It’s also fun to anticipate the ways these projects can benefit the Ranch many years into the future.
Each project takes multiple pieces coming together, including planning, finances, and manpower. Our prayer is God would put the puzzle together in the way He knows will best accomplish His plans for the CEM community.
Nate Boyd, Executive Director
Will you consider joining this endeavor?
Whether or not I can believe it, it’s already been a year since Chuck Boatman retired as CEM’s Executive Director and the baton was handed to me. The completion of the year has felt like a significant personal milestone, so I took some time to reflect on the lessons, victories, and hard times the Lord led us through over the course of this year. One particular theme of memories and thoughts has sifted out: overwhelming gratitude.
It starts with the simple reality that there’s something so very special about the Ranch. I still have a hard time describing the depth of this place, but I do know for certain it’s an honor to be part of it, and especially to know the people here. Each different group involved in this community contributes so much.
Over the past few months I’ve mentioned a number of ways we’re working to update CEM, from policies to procedures to facilities. Today I’m happy to announce another step forward and introduce our new mission and vision statements! The format is new, but the content is not: you’ll immediately recognize the same heart and focus behind our new formulations.
For over a year we’ve recognized the need to do this. Organizations have moved toward succinct mission and vision statements, with the benchmark being 3-22 words. This is a widely-held standard for a number of reasons, including ease in communicating these crucial ideas with external constituencies, as well as helping to maintain a precise, crystalized internal focus.
For decades the Ranch has had a purpose document that has underpinned what we do as a ministry and why, and we’ve also had a motto. The purpose statement is useful for internal discussions and guiding the Board of Directors in making decisions, but it’s not suited for communicating the heart of CEM to the outside world.
In March, we shared about the completion of the first phase of the strategic plan, which entailed reallocating resources to best meet the current needs of the ministry. We paid off our debt, began increasing our web presence, and reassessed our recruitment strategy. Our next step is beginning the long-term project of renovating our facilities
“There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.” This quote by the hero of faith Hudson Taylor sits at the top of CEM’s Strategic Plan. It is an encouragement but also an exhortation: inasmuch as we’re confident in God’s leading, we must not back away from a single challenge that comes our way.
After a season with several transitions, we’ve completed a phase of hiring and have a full, strong staff team lined up. It’s fun to see evidence that the Lord knows what gifts and abilities are needed for the unique work of CEM, and we’re grateful He’s brought us the people we need. Over the coming months we’ll introduce our new team members to you.
Last month I discussed our need to step into the next phase of growth as a ministry and our excitement to do so. I’m happy to say that since then the first two steps forward are completed!
Step one: dealing with debt. We’re thrilled to announce the Ranch is now 100% debt-free! Ten years ago CEM purchased the house and property of our closest neighbor on a 15-year loan. This purchase has provided crucial staff housing, enabling another family to live on property and provide community, safety, and support for our students. Housing is often essential for staff to afford to serve here, so this investment will be a key longterm benefit to CEM. Thanks to the last two record-breaking Agony rides covering much more of the burden of student sponsorships than usual, we were able to use general fund money to pay off the house five years early! This is a tremendous victory and a crucial first step in our plans. Please join us in thanking God! Now we can use those resources to tackle other hurdles we face.
In 2014 CEM entered a time of great change. Several long-term Ranch leaders began to reach retirement age and transition out, beginning with Jim and Marion Parker. Mike Petrillo followed shortly after, and a couple of staff changes have happened each year since. Late last year, our beloved Counseling Director, John Cox, announced his imminent retirement in June of this year. Mike Petrillo has written a beautiful and spot-on article about John and his impact on the Ranch family featured in this issue.
Personally, back in 2014 I wondered how CEM as an organization would handle the retirements of these key leaders. Losing them was a huge blow to the ministry! But the Lord has clearly not withdrawn His blessing and provision from CEM: He has been calling talented, committed, high-integrity, and creative new people to come join our ministry team.
Sordid scandals of leaders who abuse their power saturate the news these days. Some use power to manipulate, take advantage of, or abuse people they are responsible to care for; some even use it to criminal ends. Money, sex, and power all entice, and leaders who hunger for these can sabotage their souls, organizations, and even countries. Salacious misdeeds are not the only danger, though: leadership is often isolating and treacherous in much more subtle and ordinary ways as well. Leadership transitions are often particularly difficult—those involved seem extra prone to missteps and damaging relationships, and the tenor can quickly become hostile, either visibly or beneath the surface.
I am deeply grateful to God that the story of CEM has been so remarkably different. The accompanying photo represents 38 years of Ranch directorship and several leadership transitions. It also represents five friends from five different decades.
BY: Churck Boatman
CEM's Executive Director
“Seasons” is a term I hear in Christian conversation these days. As we read in Genesis 8:2, it’s a very biblical concept: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” This was God’s promise of faithfulness to Noah after the great flood. It should be no surprise, then, that our spirits should seek to order the elements of our lives according to the principle of seasons.
In the natural world, each season has its own kind of weather. In the Midwest and South, springtime often comes with powerful tornadoes that leave a trail of destruction behind them. The young people whom God sends to CEM come to us in the springtime of their lives, most of them having already experienced some devastating blows that threatened to destroy them.
by: Chuck Boatman
CEM's Executive Director
Seeing lives change is one of the primary joys we experience in being a part of CEM. Sometimes the change happens slowly in the form of steady growth. More often, the growth comes in spurts, with occasional setbacks requiring the change process to begin again.
I was reminded of this recently as I was reading Jeremiah. In chapter 18, God told the prophet Jeremiah to visit a potter and observe him at work. The vessel the potter was creating developed a flaw, so he made it a lump of clay again and formed a new vessel on the wheel.
by: chuck boatman
CEM's Executive Director
Refreshing rain...in abundance! Several major storms brought much needed precipitation to most of California in the early days of 2017. Our ponds here at the Ranch were overflowing. Wolf Creek—which we have to cross on a primitive bridge to get out to “civilization”—flowed fast and deep.
Fortunately, at the Ranch we had no weather-related troubles. However, in many places, floods washed out roads, traffic accidents multiplied, and several people lost their lives. A restaurant in Nevada City was flooded out, and a 100’ wide by 75’ deep sinkhole developed in a Grass Valley parking lot.