December 10, 2008
We (The Vineyard and Turning Point) help host a holiday party for a low-income apartment community that is over 80% immigrants. It is like a mini United Nations, so much color, difference and beauty all in one room. This was our fourth year helping serve some pretty incredible folks. This really is my favorite holiday party.
November 6, 2008
How does the Church witness to Christ in the world? First and foremost by giving visibility to Jesus’ love for the poor and the weak. In a world so hungry for healing, forgiveness, reconciliation, and most of all unconditional love, the Church must alleviate that hunger through its ministry. Wherever we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the lonely, listen to those who are rejected, and bring unity and peace to those who are divided, we proclaim the living Christ, whether we speak about him or not.
It is important that whatever we do and wherever we go, we remain in the Name of Jesus, who sent us. Outside his Name our ministry will lose its divine energy. – Henri Nouwen
I think Henri Nouwen may have been meditating on Matthew 25 when he wrote this.
September 19, 2008
Just started reading Phyllis Tickle’s latest book, The Great Emergence. Another must read for anyone wanting to understand the back drop for where the Christian church in North America currently finds herself and where we are more than likely heading.
September 9, 2008
Check out this new video Brian did on Hope here
Short and to the point. When he talks about the Muslims in the first part of the video it made me think, this is exactly why the youth initiative TNT is an important experience for young people to learn about and from one another.
September 5, 2008
I am looking forward to the annual OTM party! That’s what usually happens. You will have a bunch of fun getting to know tons of interesting people, stories that stretch your thinking about God, Church, Christianity, the Culture and this year will not be a disappointment. Check out the website for Seattle’s event…and keep checking because they will be adding more daily!
Did you know:
“Younger adults and those Americans who live in the Western part of the United States are much less likely to believe in God than are those living elsewhere…
The highest number of atheists and agnostics live in the western USA… One quarter of western U.S. adults claim no religious affiliation” (Pew & Gallup, 2008)
This startling statistic tells us why we need to focus on reaching young people with the message of Jesus
We happen to live in the section of the nation with the largest number of unreached young people
Not only that – this number is growing – non believers are the fastest growing faith segment in the US
And some of them are coming right out of our churches
We need to turn this around
Come to The Born Again Church Tour in Seattle October 10-11
Hundreds of people like you have already signed up because they believe that the church can be better – the kingdom can be expanded and young people can find a spiritual home as followers of Jesus.
Learn how at The Born Again Church Tour in Seattle October 10-11
Get your tickets (Groups only $79)
September 3, 2008
Turning Point, (a mission group of VCC) gets press in the local paper. Our youth initiatives are designed to provide fun, safe space for kids during OST (out of school time). Young people learning to be with each other when they come from diverse ethic, religious, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds is vital for today’s world. If the newspaper link does not work copy and paste this to your browser:
August 27, 2008
David Ruis is blogging and has a message he gave to area Vineyard leaders in LA in June that is totally worth a listen if you find yourself wrestling with the tension of living out life in the Kingdom of God. If you are in Seattle September 7th David will be with us at the Vineyard so come on over.
August 26, 2008
From “Knowing the Holy Spirit Through the Old Testament” by Chris Wright
Power. The word, like the thing itself, is much abused…
Power, basically is neutral. It simply means the ability to do things. Power is needed if you are going to do anything good, as well as if it is used for evil. Power is the capacity to accomplish goals, or to influence the outcome of events and processes…
Power, then, is effective action, making a difference, influencing events, changing the way things are or will be.
What if we began to use our power to do good? What if we intentionally used our power to accomplish goals of making a difference in Jesus’ Name? What if we used our power to influence the outcome of events and processes that marginalize people, any people?
He goes on:
It is not surprising, then, that the Spirit of God in the Old Testament is commonly linked with power, for the biblical God is nothing if not effective in action in bringing about change! Indeed, when the Israelites spoke of the Spirit of Yahweh, it was often simply a way of saying that God himself was exercising his power on the earth, either directly or, more commonly, through human agents. The Spirit of God is God’s power at work–either in direct action or in empowering people to do what God wants done.
At VCC we are looking at the person of the Holy Spirit. Wrestling with what it means to be entrusted with the empowerment of the Spirit in our everyday life. With all the hoopla going on in the internet over Lakeland, what I don’t want to do is throw the baby out with the bath water. The power of the Holy Spirit has been life changing for me. The different expressions of a “Spirit filled” life is multi-dimensional. We would not be able to do the work we do without the empowerment, grace and life the Spirit gives.
If you want to assess whether your life or your faith community is living out a Spirit filled life, read and reflect on Luke 4.
August 8, 2008
Within the first few months of stepping into the function of Co-Pastors at VCC, Rich and I had a strong sense that one of the primary spiritual practices we must have in place was that of prayer. We began a prayer group that meets once per week. We have continued that practice and have found that prayer has laid the ground work for much of who we are becoming and where we are supposed to be going. This became an important point of discernment as to whether we were to pursue leasing a building.
After much prayer, discussion and processing with the congregation we made the decision as a community that our next step was to lease a space. We found a potential place. The entire congregation did a walk through, we consistently prayed, we crunched the numbers, negotiated a lease and began a renovation. We leased the largest of three spaces in the facility. There are two businesses that lease smaller spaces.
We envisioned the building as a “community center” with VCC as the primary tenant. Our plan was to make the inside welcoming yet versatile so that any organization or group would be comfortable using the facility. Our dream captivated our imagination to wonder, how can we serve this community, how can we make the facility a welcoming place to use for people not interested or even hostile toward the Church.
One morning after our weekly prayer meeting, I told the group that some of us had been brainstorming and we wanted to call the facility The Vineyard. We would put in the largest and main sign holder out front “The Vineyard” and then have a banner hanging from the building with the VCC logo that read, Vineyard Community Church, Sunday’s 10:30. I saw people look at one another in that sort of look that says, “You tell her.” Finally, one brave soul spoke up and said, “We know you guys think that is a good idea, but we think it’s not such a great idea. It feels like we would be baiting and switching people and besides that we are not embarrassed to be a church.” This began of a series of (sometimes intense) discussions about what we were trying to communicate and why. Changing paradigms about the use of the building in relation to serving a host community did not come easy. One year after we were in the building I received a memo from the property manager that was sent to all three tenants in the building. The memo began with: To: The Tenants of Vineyard Square…mission somewhat accomplished, we were entering the world of being a “third space”.
Another issue that came up almost immediately was in how we would design and decorate the inside of the space. Some folks wanted to do stencil different scriptures on the walls, while others wanted to paint murals depicting Christian symbols and characters on the walls. Then there were those of us that felt like we might be turning into unchristian people but thought it was important to put anything with religious overtones up as completely portable so that literally any group could come in and feel comfortable using the building. We had no less intense dialogue, eyes rolling and hard feelings about this as well. Some felt we were selling out to the culture trying to be “seeker sensitive”. Others felt we were being too accommodating to unchristian people and betraying our basic freedom of religion. Still others, thought we were acting ashamed of the gospel. We had to have many conversations with people that could not “see’ where we felt we were supposed to be going. By the way, our facility has no lack of art and color depicting our faith, it is all easily movable. In a later post I will write about the various groups that have and continue to use the building and how they have responded to Christian art in the space.
All in all the debates, the disagreements, the long conversations helped us form a philosophy that we are still working out today on why we view our building as a gift to the host community it is located in as well as one of the gathering places for the church to worship, to train and to party.
July 29, 2008
How can people engage the culture we presently live in without seeing themselves as an ongoing learner? The world is changing, the church (people of God) must change to be faithful to the message of Jesus. The default mode of “doing church” that we have been handed is clearly in need of rethinking, re-envisioning and every other “re” word that’s out there. How do we get an imagination for continuing to look at what it means first to “be” the church, discovering the essence and nature of the church to then organizing how we “do” church in our specific communities? We live in a time of seismic change and every devoted follower of Christ needs to be asking the question, “what does it mean to be faithful to the Message in our time?”
I am constantly amazed when I hear people talk about the current conversation regarding the tectonic changes that are occurring in theology, church, and what it means to be a follower of Christ today in our changing world and think that they get it “let’s move on”. All through the Scripture we see the motif of God’s faithfulness, rescuing humanity, Israel from exile, unfaithfulness in one form or another. Why, because we forget our story. We don’t remember the real story. We think we know it but we get to places where we are handed a story that we think is the biblical story but it is just one piece of it, or because of context and history it got off course and we don’t even know it.
There are a plethora of prophetic voices today calling the Church in North America back from mission drift, calling for a course correction, to remember our Story. The missiologists, Michael Frost, Alan Hirsch, George Hunsberger, are brilliantly helping us recover our roots, our story and a way forward.
I am 51 years old and in the last four years have probably learned more about God, church, culture than I have in my entire life and I have realized that I have so much more to learn in this journey of faith. It will be a life long process and that notion is exciting to me. Rich and I were talking last night about different ways to create learning opportunities for people to continue to learn while the reality is that most people we know have very full lives. One opportunity that we didn’t create but are very excited about is Missio Dei Learning Community. The emphasis for Missio Dei LC will be on Kingdom, Spirit and Mission.
This learning opportunity if for anyone wanting to engage and learn in an online community around recovering our Story, learning to be authentic real Christ followers, the implications and adventure of the journey and what it means to “be’ the Church.
From the website:
The church exists because there is a mission. The Triune God is the center of the mission, the church is the agent. In an ever changing culture, God is going before us and preparing our way for his mission. Missio Dei Learning Community is focused on helping its students comprehend the Missio Dei within the Grand Narrative of Scripture so they can more effectively work as the agents of God for the recreation of his creation.
This Learning Community is sponsored by the Vineyard Northwest Region and will be led by Winn Griffin, author of God’s Epic Adventure. Winn holds several degrees including a D.Min in Biblical Studies and most recently a D.Min in Leadership in the Emerging Culture from George Fox University.
The first two courses will be centered around the books, Missional Church and The Shaping of Things to Come. I hope you will check out the website and consider enrolling. It is a wonderful opportunity to continue growing and learning in what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world.