Dear brothers and sisters,
The Lord seems to have given me a little time to reflect on my time with the Vineyard and I’d like to encourage you to keep on in the work of the Canadian Vineyard Churches. Abba has given us an amazing row to hoe.
We came into the Vineyard in 2002 as we looked for a church that was evangelically orthodox and that had a practice of caring for the poor. We’d been working in an inner-city drop-in centre, living in that community and going to a large suburban church. The way we did church did not translate well to the way we did ministry.
Our second Sunday at Winnipeg Centre Vineyard was the summer of 2002 – 200+ people packed into the ministry centre at Main and Selkirk. The chaos was strangely familiar and I loved that I could see three distinct groups – the highly engaged at the front, the socializers at the back (mixed in too with the street crowd) and the people in the middle were trying to find a safe spot between the flag wavers, arm raisers, sniffers and the socializers. We had intended to shop around for churches but we really didn’t – we found the Vineyard to feel like what we were looking for.
I felt that if our drop-in families came to faith in Jesus, that church would begin to feel like this.
Two years of worship & small groups, two years of serving on the staff and 5 years of church planting with Winnipeg Centre Vineyard has given us many friends across Canada who love the King and enjoy bringing the message and practices of the Kingdom. The past 3 years on staff with Alpha Canada has given me more appreciation for our family of Vineyard churches. We have a precious gift – a message that changes lives and practices that encourage the ways of the King. (As an aside, I think that more of us could use Alpha to help people new to the Vineyard or new to faith understand our theology and practices.)
Over 2 years ago we began to explore a pastoral opportunity with Vineyard Brussels. We’re excited to take the gifts of the Canadian Vineyard with us and invite you to join us any time you’re flying through the great city of Brussels. 100 years after World War 1 Belgium needs another invasion of Canadian troops – Canada’s spiritual destiny depends on it as Belgian law has become the standard for “progressive” euthanasia and the nation is still under the shadow of spiritual dullness. I’d love for us to build a highway between Canada and Belgium.
I have also had the privilege of looking at our Vineyards from the outside both from other Canadian churches and from the global Vineyard perspective. Having only been in the Vineyard since 2002 (we missed Toronto, David Ruis, Mike Bickle and of course John Wimber), your stories are just part of our history.
- I don’t think I fully understand how damaging the exit of the Toronto Airport has been to the Canadian Vineyards but I believe that these wounds will need to be healed as we move forward. May we be one, as Jesus and the Father are one.
- As a Vineyard pastor, I experienced favour in many circles – among Catholics, pentecostals, Charismatics, baptists, Anglicans, Alliance and others. After more than 30 years of influence it has become normal to find God’s people ready to say yes to the Holy Spirit – this is a legacy of the Vineyard. I wonder if this will be a season where we move from being outcastes to peacemakers. The whole of the Canadian church is beginning to experience what we’ve known for our whole history – a prophetic announcement of the Kingdom from the fringe of society.
- I’d also like to encourage us to return to our roots in Church planting. This generation of church planters will need more coaching, more support and more training. And we can’t just let the church planters tell us how to plant a church – we know the essential elements of a Vineyard church and we’re confident that what we’ve got is a gift to be shared with Canadians. Let’s resist our Canadian apologies and be bold with our message and practices.
To close I’d like to pray and call out our gifts in the Canadian Vineyards
- As a prophetic people, King Jesus, let us know your heart, show us your face and keep us knowing the sound of your voice. Let us be the sheep who know the voice of the Shepherd.
- As a church planting people, let us continue to raise up pioneers and trail blazers who will go to the poor and unlikely. Send us to the people that are overlooked by others but are good soil to you. We want to be generous with our message, inviting everyone to meet You, the King.
- As a church for the poor, may we always have room at our tables for the hungry, lonely, broken and lost. Give us hospitality as a mandate and legacy of the Holy Spirit. Give us a salvation message that includes all the shalom of God for our friends.
- As a people who expect the Holy Spirit I ask that you would bring encounter, renewal and revival through our communities. Keep us from being offended at your activity or from growing content with our current experience.
Thank you for being a family we are proud of.