Our next Community Catalyst Training is coming up November 24, 7 – 9pm.
The goal of these Community Catalyst events (there are three a year) is to create a space for the WCV community to be encouraged, equipped and envisioned.
To put a finer point on it, we want those involved in the Community Catalyst meetings:
to encourage each other with connection and fun
to equip each other with relevant training
to envision each other to what God is calling us to
Our first training event was held back in May when we had Brady Wilson lead us in some brilliant interactive training around energy. Sherry and Andy reinforced what we learned at that first event on Sunday June 13 (you can review that sermon here.) We learned about our core driving needs and about how in Jesus we have true belonging, freedom, significance, meaning and security.
For this next training we will continue to lean on Brady’s wisdom and input. We are going to continue to look at how to unlock energy in ourselves and those we serve. We will dig deeper on how to connect with others on what matters most in order to accomplish the mission God has given us. We will learn how to apply what we’ve learned in our everyday lives.
Some of the content will be review from our first training session, but we will primarily focus on taking it deeper and application. You can take this training even if you missed the first one. If you were at the first one, this training won’t be redundant (there will be some review).
We are planning on this being an in-person training event. If restrictions change, we will adapt as necessary.
To get a taste of some of Brady’s teaching, you can watch his Ted Talk entitled “How to Fix the Exhausted Brain”:
God is neither confused nor disoriented in these troubled times. If there’s one thing we’ve learned during these last few years it is that God is both faithful and trustworthy. It just might be true that the Holy Spirit is most active in rough times – bringing comfort and strength to the weak and overwhelmed, offering wisdom to those who ask, guiding and nudging, speaking and empowering. God is here – with each of us wherever we are – even right now as you read this. God’s Kingdom is here – at hand – coming – delayed. All of it wrapped up and enacted by feeble hands and knocking knees (Isa 35:3). We’re praying that this reality would be planted deep down in each of our hearts and would produce a rich harvest of hope in due course. We are in this together and God is with us.
Colossians 1:9-12 is a good picture of what the Holy Spirit has been nudging us towards, namely: transformation, connection and activation.
“Since we first heard about you, we’ve kept you always in our prayers that you would receive the perfect knowledge of God’s pleasure over your lives, making you reservoirs of every kind of wisdom and spiritual understanding. We pray that you would walk in the ways of true righteousness, pleasing God in every good thing you do. Then you’ll become fruit-bearing branches, yielding to his life, and maturing in the rich experience of knowing God in his fullness! And we pray that you would be energized with all his explosive power from the realm of his magnificent glory, filling you with great hope.”
– Col 1:9-12 (TPT)
The primary calling of being a disciple of Jesus is to become more and more like Him in our thoughts, habits, and actions – learning to be like Him in every way. Paul says, “all the while you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Col 1:10). This is a life-long process of maturing into Christlikeness – of living more fully into our image-of-God-ness (Gen 1). This must be kept in the forefront. The paradox here is that when we strive for transformation, it becomes elusive. However, when we focus on Jesus – his life, relationships, thoughts, actions, etc. – we become more like Him. We become like what we worship and we reflect what we worship.
Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
1 John 2:6
“When human beings give their heartfelt allegiance to and worship that which is not God, they progressively cease to reflect the image of God. One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around. Those who worship money increasingly define themselves in terms of it and increasingly treat other people as creditors, debtors, partners, or customers rather than as human beings. Those who worship sex define themselves in terms of it (their preferences, their practices, their past histories) and increasingly treat other people as actual or potential sex objects. Those who worship power define themselves in terms of it and treat other people as either collaborators, competitors, or pawns. These and many other forms of idolatry combine in a thousand ways, all of them damaging to the image-bearing quality of the people concerned and of those whose lives they touch.”
N.T. Wright in Surprised by Hope
Being together releases energy. Encouragement happens in community. Covid-19 has restricted relationships and thrust many into survival mode. We’re praying that the varied moments of connection that we do have will be like life-lines that will not just keep us afloat, but actually pull to safety those who feel overwhelmed. This is not a solitary activity. In the Colossian passage above Paul uses a plural “you” (Col 1:9-12). A simple text message to someone can be huge. A phone call, a hand-written note, a hot meal – small gestures like these communicate love and plant seeds of hope. Like Paul, we’re praying that we would all be strengthened with God’s power, have patience to endure, and be filled with energizing joy (selections of Colossians 1:9-12 NLT). The best path to this? Connection.
We are excited by the growth of Home Groups this year. There are also a number of Triads who are meeting regularly and sharing life together and a number of beautiful moments of connection have been catalyzed through CarePortal. These are all parts of the “fruit bearing branches” that comprise WCV. We believe God wants to increase these and actually infuse our community with energy through these growing relationships with each other, and those who are yet to be part of our church!
“So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11
We believe this next year God will lead us into reaffirming who we are and why we are placed at 782 Main St. We don’t want to just do the same old things, but just a little better. There are new expressions of who we are that are going to find fresh legs in this next season. We want to find ways to notice the inner leadings of the Holy Spirit that will result in life and joy – not just another thing to do in an already busy life.
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
As we lean into Jesus, we will be transformed. As we lean into each other, we will be energized and encouraged. As we follow the Spirit’s promptings we will be led outside of ourselves in service of others. Let hope be planted! Let your kingdom come!
We had a great beginning to the EHS Course on Wednesday night. We are super encouraged by the response – 71 people are taking this ground-breaking course! Over the run of 8 sessions, we’ll be exploring the themes of:
The Problem of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality
Know Yourself that you may Know God
Going Back in Order to Go Forward
Journey through the Wall
Enlarge Your Soul through Grief and Loss
Discover the Rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath
Grow into an Emotionally Mature Adult
Go the Next Step to Develop a “Rule of Life”
If you’re taking this course, we’ll be exploring these topics in depth. If you’re not in the course, you can always sign up the next time (if this first round goes well). Also, we’ll be exploring the same themes throughout the Fall on Sunday mornings. The past two Sundays we’ve explored the first two topics and this coming Sunday I’ll be sharing on “Going Back in Order to Go Forward”. We will look at Joseph’s life in Genesis 50 as a template for this important idea.
There sure seems to be a lot of life on this course – let’s pray that God deeply meets each person involved and that we, as a community, will become more grounded, healthy and alive in Jesus as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us this season.
From May 5 – June 30, Flatlanders Inn has partnered with the Multiply’s Central Canada team to host their TREK program’s orientation time. So a handful of people are moving in upstairs for the next two months to learn, prepare and pray towards what God is calling them to. Some of them are heading to Brazil, and some to Japan. Others are staying in the north-end to join in what God has already begun right here in the heart of Winnipeg.
TREK has intentionally chosen to be here with us at this time to pray and worship and create with us and for us and this neighbourhood. To bless what God is doing here and to pray for what is to come. We are already feeling the love!
They are also inviting us to join in on what they are doing. There are weekly teaching sessions that will be happening in the Studio from 9 am – 4 pm. Each module has a small cost of $15 (this covers every day that a speaker is teaching).
May 10, 17: Larry Wilson – “A Path toward Healing & Wholeness”
May 13 – 16: Paul Winter – “Evangelism & Discipleship”
May 21 – 22: Elton Dasilva – “Holy Spirit Partnership”
May 23 -24: Paul Kroeker – “Path of Discipleship”
June 4 – 5: Randy Friesen – “Christ’s Kingdom Authority & Us”
June 10 – 12: Doug Penner – “Multiplying Discipleship Principles”
June 13 – 14: Bill Hogg – “Understanding & Sharing the Gospel”
June 17 – 20: Richard & Hazel Funk – “Healthy Sexuality”
June 24 – 26: Lloyd Letkeman – “Personal Gifting and Team Dynamics”
One of my family’s favourite outings is to pack all six of us into the van and head down to Corydon Ave. We all eagerly race into Nucci’s gelati for a tasty frozen treat – we run because usually it’s raining when we all go – a weird quirk of this particular family tradition. Walking into that little shop and seeing the array of vivid colours lined up side by side fills my heart with love and my tastebuds with anticipation. All those amazing flavours beckoning to be tasted (favourites include Pistachio, Mullberry, and Tartufo Bianco). One delicious frozen treat, many mouth-watering flavours.
When Paul speaks of the work of the spirit in our lives the language he uses is that of fruit. He famously lists what he calls the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5. It’s not a complete list of the Spirit’s work in our lives (scholars agree) – how could the work of God be summed up in a simple list?! However, he is clear that all these various fruit are rooted in one kind of fruit… kind of like a whole bunch of delicious flavours of gelati but it’s all one type of desert. Many flavours – one fruit. The Passion Translation says it like this:
“But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
This summer we’re going to be exploring these and other “flavours” of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Good fruit grows on healthy plants. While the good fruit our lives produce is ultimately a work of the Spirit we can either partner with or work against the Spirit’s work in our lives. How do we “remain in the vine” to use Jesus’ phrase (John 15)? What do these various fruit actually look like on the ground in the dirt of our actual lives? How do we cultivate good soil in which to grow?
We’re going to explore these and other questions as we look at some of the fruit Paul names. We’re going to explore how they are all really many flavours of the one real fruit of the spirit which is love itself. You could say we’re gong to look at nine flavours of love this summer. When we root ourselves deeply into God – that is, when we grow into his very character, we begin to produce beautiful fruit.
To whet your appetite, here are some of the themes we will be exploring:
Cultivating patience in an age of hurry.
Cultivating love in a world of indifference.
Cultivating joy in happyland.
Cultivating peace in a time of disruption
Cultivating self-control in an age of greed.
Cultivating gentleness in an aggressive city.
Cultivating faithfulness in a rootless society.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
“Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.” Matt 7:20
“These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” James 1:15
The inspiration for the Outer Circle was a result of a prophetic word given a number of years ago. It’s the picture of Musk Oxen who form a protective circle around the vulnerable members of the herd in times of trouble. This is a glimpse of the kind of community God has called us to be. This hasn’t changed. However, the Outer Circle has changed over the years. This year we’re doing a complete reboot. Here’s what it’ll look like:
Three simple words: Transformation, Training and Togetherness.
When we gather we will have a short inspirational training and practice on a particular spiritual exercise. It is designed for anyone in a Triad or a House Group, as well as for anyone else who gets together with others for the purpose of pursuing spiritual growth on a regular basis. Everyone is welcome to any of the gatherings.
Everything that was part of the Outer Circle gatherings and process in the past has changed, except the existence of Triads and the actual gatherings, which will be less involved and more focussed on equipping (and dessert) – keep reading!
Being formed in Christlikeness is arguably the primary task (or result) of following Jesus. While it most certainly involves us, this formation is primarily a work of the Holy Spirit. However it isn’t only about our own transformation. As we grow closer to God we get closer to the heart of God which, at its core, is missional. You’ll never catch God navel gazing! The journey inward will always lead outward. The question is, what do I find on the inward journey and what kind of person will I be on the outward journey? How does my world experience me? Do I bring with me the hope, peace, love and joy of the gospel or am I offering something else? In reality we’re all a mix of both – but the point is we bring who we are. The purpose of the Outer Circle is to focus on spiritual transformation so that we can become the kind of people – the kind of community – that God is calling us to become. This means getting in touch with God, our core desires and longings and watching the process unfold!
The purpose of the Outer Circle is to focus on spiritual transformation so that we can become the kind of people – the kind of community – that God is calling us to become.
Some of the most basic building blocks of spiritual transformation are practices that have been around many years. A number of us have been exploring some of these practices as a result of our involvement in the Schools of Spiritual Direction – and we can tell you, they’re transformative! At each Outer Circle gathering we will focus on a particular practice, or exercise. We will teach it and then practice it right there together. The purpose is to expose you to a way of being with God that you may not have experienced before. This will be helpful in the moment but will also prove valuable for House Group leaders, Triads, and for any other groups you may be in. They are tools that can be used in other places. Certainly some of the exercises are meant to be practiced alone. These too will produce fruit and will be useful for sharing in Triads and House Groups. Each Outer Circle gathering will have practical resource to take home (experience & hand-outs).
The Outer Circle is a place of connection. Life isn’t meant to be walked alone. Beyond Sunday mornings, people connect in a number of important and life-giving ways. Triads are small groups of people (usually 2 – 4) who regularly meet together to support, care for, share and pray for one another. House Groups are a little larger but have the same basic reason for being. Some House Groups will have a more specific focus than others, but connection and support for the journey are always key components. There are a variety of other ways people connect in WCV. The Outer Circle is a place for these groups to receive encouragement, training and support. The Outer Circle is meant to serve what’s happening elsewhere.
Less involved gatherings (no more meals with childcare).
More focussed gatherings emphasizing transformation & training.
No more “Prayer, People, Plan process”.
No more annual renewal.
Don’t have to commit to an annual process.
The purpose of Triads is connection and support – not to keep track of each other’s plans.
The time (7pm – 9pm).
>>What stays the same?:
Triads are still an essential and live-giving way to find connection and support in the Vineyard.
Triads and House Groups are still primary ways of belonging in the Vineyard (but not the only ways).
The basic vision of encouraging growth remains the same.
The day (still on Saturdays).
A Word about Membership at the Vineyard
Membership at the Vineyard is spelled out here. In short it means “Belong, Serve, Give”. Participation in a Triad in the Outer Circle process has been one of the markers of belonging (as has being part of a House Group). This isn’t changing.
We’re quickly coming up to the last Outer Circle gathering of 2017 on October 28. If you’re in the OC this year, we trust your Triads have been meeting, sharing, supporting and praying for each other. This is, after all, the whole point of the Outer Circle process – relationship and growth.
None of us can study our way to become more like Jesus – rather we obey our way to become more like Jesus.
If there is one lesson I’ve learned the past few years, it’s that I can’t make myself more like Jesus. There’s nothing I can do to make growth happen inside me. I can set up the conditions, I can learn, I can posture myself for growth, but in the end it is a work of the Holy Spirit. None of us can study our way to become more like Jesus – rather we obey our way to become more like Jesus. In other words, the habits and practices we form in response to the teaching and leading of Jesus will create favourable conditions for becoming more like him. This is the whole point of Triads and the Outer Circle process. It’s simply a track – a way of opening yourself up to God’s leading in the midst of small pockets of community that will encourage, promote and stimulate growth. That work doesn’t happen in meetings (usually). Rather it happens in the coffee shops, pubs, living rooms and wherever else you meet up with your Triad to share areas of strength and growth and the actions (habits) you’ve formed in order to encourage growth and share strength.
If you’re not part of the Outer Circle this year, you’re still welcome to join. Each year begins a new cycle. Being an active participant in the Outer Circle process (not just the meetings but engaging in the process with your Triad) is also one concrete way Membership is expressed in WCV. We always eat together, share with each other and end by celebrating the Lord’s Supper together.
We’ve had an incredible week in Landenburg, PA @ Project Timothy. We’ve grown together with over 100 youth. We’ve worshipped together, absorbed teaching, allowed for personal formational time with God, participated in prayer ministry, small group and outreach. We’ve discovered more about ourselves and become more aware of God’s movement in our lives. We’ve created friendships from all over the US Vineyard to help us forge ahead on this journey we are called to as we go our own ways…until next year!
Thank-you WCV’ers for supporting our youth this year and investing in these young lives. We could not have done this without you!
After a year of fundraising, the youth are finally heading out to Project Timothy! Below are a few prayer requests from Jodi Labun:
“Hey folks, nine of us this week are heading out to Landenberg, PA where Project Timothy (youth discipleship bootcamp) is being held from July 29-Aug 6.
Please pray for our youth as they prepare this week and as they go. Please pray for smooth travels as this group is travelling by air on three different dates on the weekend beginning on Friday. Pray for safety for James as he drives to and from the church and airport over the weekend.
Pray for our youth that the Lord will stir new things and move in ways in our youth that we can’t ask or imagine. Pray that as they are immersed in this environment their love for the Lord would deepen, and the desire and invitation to head into what God has called them to would increase. Pray that this wouldn’t just be an event, but it would be a space where transformation would happen as we are challenged to be great lovers of Jesus and others.
It’s breathtaking to be in an atmosphere where teens are hungry for God. Thanks to all of you at WCV who have supported us on this adventure. There’s been enormous financial support through our fundraising efforts; for this we are so grateful.
Thanks for joining us in prayer over this next week,
What a wonderful time on July 3! We celebrated together as six people followed Jesus into baptism. Congratulations to Shirl, Carolina, Serena, Kayla, Clayton and Lindsay! May you see Jesus more clearly, experience the Father’s love more deeply, and know the Holy Spirit’s presence with you more freely as you walk the journey!
The real Jesus – the one we read about in the bible and not the one whose name is commonly invoked to justify all manner of violence, exclusion and judgement – the real Jesus is winsome. There is something about him that surprises, challenges, comforts and wins people. Even non-religious people love him and more often than not, are surprised by him and what he stood for.
Jesus showed us the way to the Father. John records “the Word was made flesh and dwelled among us” (John 1:14). Later in John’s gospel, Jesus himself says that if we’ve seen him, we’ve seen the Father (14:9). This was his primary mission on earth. As his followers, we are to walk in his footsteps. We are to emulate him. His mission is to become ours. Yet, in general, the church has a bad reputation. If relevant at all, followers of Jesus are typically known for who or what we are against, which may or may not have anything to do with what Jesus stood for.
There is a tremendous disconnect at work. How do we repair the breach between Jesus and our neighbours? How do we introduce our friends to the real Jesus – not the one who hates “the gays”, or bombs “the Muslims”. How do we shed the negative stereotypes of the church? How do we become winsome without being weird? How do we remain faithful to scripture and be relevant to our culture? What does the way Jesus lived his life say to our contemporary situations?
In this series, “The Word Made Fresh”, we will explore these questions and, together, we’ll discover how to connect the dots between the real world’s biggest needs and the real Jesus. We will unpack some of the best known and most misunderstood stories about Jesus and some of the ones he told. By the end of this series, we will fall in love with a Jesus that perhaps we’ve never known before and, in the process, we’ll discover a loving Father through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. As we learn the ins and outs of Jesus’ life, we will get to know him better and we’ll be able to talk about him naturally in the places we go.
We are praying that as we do this, Jesus will come alive to us and our neighbours in new and exciting ways. Jesus – the Word – will become fresh!
Check the website or your email for “The Word for the Week” – our weekly scripture challenge. At the beginning of each week we will send out the Jesus story we will be studying the following Sunday. We will encourage us all to read and meditate on these scriptures. We want to read the stories, live them and be able to share them with those around us!
Read it – Live it – Share it!
You can also listen to the introductory sermons in this series here (March 8th & 22nd).
It’s time to haul out the old metal dunk tank again! On Easter Sunday, April 5, we are going to witness the baptisms of a number of people as they make a public confession of their faith in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus and haven’t yet taken this step, we invite you to think and pray about it.
Jesus said, “believe and be baptized” (Mark 16:16). In other words, believing is never just an internal reality – it always finds expression and is made practical, in our real lives. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward reality and one that followers of Jesus have participated in ever since Jesus himself was baptized by his cousin, John the Baptist.