I believe that the Church is God’s great plan to embody His Love and Message. To be effective the church must be contextual to its time in history and its cultural context, location. I also believe, we in North America are in the midst of a great cultural shift that must be met with a new Reformation. If you are located in a rural area, the urgency for change is not as great. However, culture change in our cities demands a new demonstration of what Christian community is intended to be. Because of the availability of rapid communication don’t be surprised when urban culture invades the small town. I hope we all can join in a conversation about how all of our church communities can be more effective in our own context. What’s making a difference in your community?
This Summer we (VCC) are reading through Mark Scandrette’s book, “Practicing The Way of Jesus” in order to guide our faith community into imagining more and more ways in which we can live into our faith.
We want to provide a space here for discussion around the book’s ideas. So, with that in mind let’s begin with thoughts, inspiration, questions about Chapter 1, “An Invitation to Experiment.”
Some of my thoughts:
1. I love the language of “experiment.” A friend of mine once said that when he meets Jesus he hopes Jesus will say, “Good try!” It suggests that formation happens both in the wins, the losses and the simple attempts we make.
2. I was inspired by the Have2Give1 experiment. I actually could see Leslie leading some folks from VCC in this type of experiment! I liked that it was time-bound (8 weeks) and I really liked how it led those that participated into asking deeper questions about their heart posture toward money, possessions, and consumption (pg 12). The idea being as we participate in these practices it leads us to the heart of the formation questions. I also love that they gave thousands of dollars to benefit others out of what was clutter in their lives. Beautiful!
3. The idea of doing tangible experiments taking us out our heads and into our bodies with a group of others wanting to change and grow by exploring how to integrate the teachings of Jesus into our everyday lives is very, very appealing to me. How about you?
4. “Through surrender and practice, Jesus expected his apprentices to be like him.” (pg 16) – I want VCC to be a community of practice that can experiment, will be inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus, that will commit time and energy to practices that can form us in this way of life, and will have the courge to reflect on what it means to be a counterculture community that is finding a new way to be human – together.
5. We are invited to live into the Kingdom of Love, a kingdom characterized by love that is both present and progressing. I like the idea of our church community gathering in small groups to imagine how they are being invited to experiment together practices that could actually make a positive difference in bringing a holistic view of what it means to be truly human.
What are your thoughts, questions, inspirations?
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.
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.
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.
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)
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:
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.