This past year has been really busy with folks at Freedom Vineyard. One of the really cool things about pastoring a small church is that you really get in each others' lives. But when folks are busy, like from the two weddings we did last year, a lot of stuff you want to do get put on hold. Last night I was talking with Christine, she helps me coordinate the theology pubs at Freedom, and looks like we have a few topics for the new year! Book club has been going well, but a lot more sporadic than in the past. I think we are going to be doing Naturally Supernatural next. I can't wait. I think this is an excellent book, but also an essential one for getting a sense of what really is at the heart of the Vineyard - fully embracing the tension of the now-not yet Kingdom that is a reality which breaks into our lives. We are still working through Scot McKnight's Blue Parakeet, which is getting a mixed reaction in the group. What I love about our book club is that they really love to go deep and explore not just what a book says, but what the author is trying to do and how that challenges us. I couldn't ask for a better group to do this project with. The other perk is that both Blue Parakeet and Naturally Supernatural are part of the ThoughtWorks programme - so many of our folks will be doing the assignments that the ThoughtWorks team has put together. This is a great way to implement ThoughtWorks in a local congregation.
We are still struggling with the shape of church, right now we have kinship in two homes (switching each week), and have a third backup home available. I'd like to see the groups growing a bit more numerically, but our strength has always been to build into what God brings and not worry about trying to make Freedom into something other than that. In fact whenever we've tried to push it it seems to not go very well. But as we have tried to be faithful with what we have, God seems to be doing amazing things in peoples lives. And the best part is that I've gotten to be part of that for about ten years now!
If any of this sounds like stuff that you would like to connect with then let me know. We often have people crash what we are doing. Our passion is to build up anyone God sends our way - with no expectations. A big part of this comes from the Vineyard that welcomed me when I couldn't be part of their main congregation (I was on staff at another church) but was hurting from my experience in my home church. They loved me, prayed for me, equipped me (I was a worship leader in the church I was on staff with and the Vineyard folk continually modeled generosity with all that God had blessed them with!), and when it was time for me to move back to Ottawa they blessed my going as if I were completely their own. I think that is why I love the Vineyard so much. But it also is why we really believe in the philosophy of building up the whole body, wherever and however we can, and leave the rest to God.
I'm excited about the new year. Hope that me and my Freedom Vineyard family can be a blessing to you in it.