Outer Circle & Spiritual Formation

Our next instalment of the upgraded version of the Outer Circle (OC 2.0) is Monday, April 30, 7 – 9pm.

The Outer Circle has become a time to focus on training for spiritual transformation together. This means that after beginning with coffee and dessert there will be a short teaching on the spiritual exercise we’re exploring that evening, then we’ll practice it right there together. The purpose is to give practical tools and experiences that we can use to create space for God to meet us.

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.

Transformation isn’t something that results from our own efforts. Neither does Christlikeness just happen. Rather, if we create spaces in our lives – rhythms and practices – that give room for God, transformation will result. A caterpillar does not become a butterfly on their own effort. Rather they submit to the process of metamorphosis. In other words, they set up the necessary conditions for the mystery of transformation then they simply give themselves over to the process. In us, it is a work of divine love that causes change. The practices we’ll be exploring this year are similar to the necessary ingredients that are needed for a caterpillar to create their cocoon. What you do with these tools is between you and God. History proves that if you take them up and learn to use them, great things will happen in your life and in the lives of those around you.

This Monday, Beckie Wood will share how engaging in a few spiritual practices has impacted her life. Then Suhail Stephen will lead us in a short teaching and experience of a way of reading scripture called Lectio Divina. As will become usual, there will be tools you can take home to add to your toolkit.

The Dates and Topics of the Outer Circles for the year are:

  • March 10: Scripture (Gospel Contemplation)
  • April 30: Scripture (Lectio Divina)
  • May 28: Rest (Sabbath)
  • October 1: Prayer (Silence)
  • November 5: Discernment (Examen)

If you missed the first Outer Circle in March, you can access the resource (Gospel Contemplation) here.

>>Mark your calendars.

>>Everyone’s welcome!

Monday, April 30, 7pm


>>What’s Changed in OC 2.0?

  • 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 in OC 2.0?:

  • 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.

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 is one of the markers of belonging (as is being part of a House Group). This isn’t changing.



Outer Circle Reboot & AGM

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.

>>What’s Changed?

  • 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.


>>Saturday, March 10, 7pm – 9pm

  • 6:50pm: dessert & coffee

  • 7pm: AGM – 2017 financial report & 2018 budget

  • 8pm: Outer Circle – Vision and Exercise

NOTE: There will no longer be childcare.





Outer Circle Update

A few quick notes about the Outer Circle:

  • We have postponed the January Outer Circle due to the Hot Button Evenings that are scheduled for Jan and Feb. We didn’t want to overload people’s evenings any more than necessary.
  • The next scheduled Outer Circle is March 10. This is also our Annual General Meeting night.
  • If your are currently in a Triad, please keep meeting, praying for each other, and connecting / encouraging each other as normal!
  • To those who participated in the Outer Circle survey, thanks! We will be in touch regarding 2018 plans for the Outer Circle soon.

Outer Circle Survey

We are in the process of evaluating the Outer Circle process. We do this each year, often adapting based on suggestions we’ve received or in response to other concerns we foresee. This year we’ve developed a short survey (less than 3 minutes to complete) that we hope will help us plan for the future.

We want to keep the main goal of the Outer Circle clearly in focus:

To foster a culture of intentional balanced growth and encouragement that spills out beyond the Outer Circle to influence everyone in WCV and our lives.

In other words – we want everyone who is part of WCV to become more like Jesus in the ways God is inviting them to! The Outer Circle is like a trellis which provides support for plants to grow. It’s a structure that is designed to support growth in us. Sometimes structures need to be renewed, re-worked or dismantled altogether if they are to achieve the goal of growth.

Your voice and input is important in this evaluation effort and we deeply appreciate you taking the time to complete the survey (3 minutes).

>>If you don’t know what the Outer Circle is, or need a refresher, go here.

Being involved in the Outer Circle and, more specifically, being in a Triad is one of the primary ways membership in WCV is determined.

>>For more on Membership in the Vineyard, go here.


>>Complete Short Survey Here.



Outer Circle – obeying our way to becoming more like Jesus

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.

>>Please RSVP to the office regarding your attendance on Oct 28 and if you need childcare.

>>Here’s more info on the Outer Circle process.

>>Here’s more info on WCV Membership.

  • Childcare provided – but you have to sign up with the office.

  • October 28, 5:30pm – 8pm (supper provided)

Do you want to Grow this Year?

screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-1-39-45-pmAdmittedly, this is a bit of a redundant question.  Of course the right answer to the question is, “yes, I want to grow this year!”  Yet conditions for growth require more than a willingness on our part – even if that willingness is full of passion.  Perhaps this is why growth is often difficult to see, even though most of us readily admit we want it.

God is creative.  Ever since he spoke the world into being and ever since he bent down and formed the first humans out of the dirt and breathed into them, he has been creating.  Astronomers understand that the universe is continuously expanding outward – as if the life-giving power of God’s words “Let there be…” haven’t stopped forming.  Creation is ongoing, generating new expanses of space, but also newness in us, should we choose to allow it.  For followers of Jesus, this creative energy is moulding us into being more like him – restoring our image of God-ness.  This is a deep and beautiful task and it is the setting, the backdrop, and the reason we engage in the Outer Circle process each year.

Imagine, getting together regularly with 2 or 3 other people and sharing three areas of growth God has invited you into for the year.  Imagine being honest about your strengths and allowing God to fill you with screen-shot-2016-12-29-at-1-44-20-pmhis laughter and delight.  Picture yourself being prayed for as you posture yourself in deliberate and intentional ways to be formed into Jesus’ likeness.  What growth might be visible in a year from now if you stuck with it?  What might you see formed in those 2 or 3 friends?  What if you tracked your friend’s journeys in specific ways?  What might the Holy Spirit do in you and in them if given the chance?

Do you really want to grow this year?  You might want to consider forming a Triad and being part of the Outer Circle process for 2017.  Our first gathering is on Saturday, January 14, 5:30pm – 8pm.

By then you should have identified your 3 areas of strength (Grace received) and 3 areas of growth for the coming year (Grace needed) and have made a plan.  If this doesn’t make sense to you, read more here.

Contact the office to sign up.  The Outer Circle is one way to be a member in the Vineyard.  For more on membership go here.

For more detailed explanation of the Outer Circle process go here.


Outer Circle 2017 – Posturing for Growth

Our goal is growth.  We want to grow into a rich fertile field that produces a lot of Kingdom fruit.  Ok, ok – so that’s a little vague and is a little heavy with “Christian-ese”!  Let me spell it out like this:

Jesus, in his 3 years on earth, was involved in a number of groups, each with unique strengths and purposes.

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-4-24-00-pmHe had a group of 12 close disciples who lived with him, observed what he did, and ultimately participated in the establishment of the church.  From among those 12 he had 3 who were especially close and were privy to a number of personal and intimate moments with Jesus.  He could share things with them, he couldn’t with the group.  It’s also clear that he had many more than just 12 people who followed him.  There were a number of women (which was quite counter cultural for the time), and others who were impacted and attracted by who he was and what he did.  Finally (for our purposes here at least), Jesus had a mission field – a target group he was aiming to impact.

We can think of WCV in a similar way.  We have some structures set up to help encourage everyone to be involved in at least one of these levels.

The Triads in the Outer Circle process are designed to be an incubator for growth for 2 to 4 people – kind of like Peter, James and John with Jesus.  They provide a venue to be involved in specific and real areas of other member’s lives.  Triads are reminded to keep track of each other, pray for each other, and support each other in the particular areas God is celebrating in each person for the year, as well as the ways he’s inviting growth for the coming year for each member of the Triad.

HouseGroupsCouch copyHouse Groups are also quite intimate, but meet different needs than the Triads in the Outer Circle process.  They are more like Jesus’ 12 disciples – great opportunities to develop community, to share needs and joys, to learn and worship together, and to provide safe places to practice many of the skills and gifts we want to see developed in our church (praying for each other, worshipping authentically, practically supporting each other, and leadership development, to name just a few).

Both the Triads in the Outer Circle Process and House Groups provide opportunities for people in WCV go beyond just meeting together on a Sunday morning (which are essential but can only accomplish so much).  They are invitations to friendship where we can regularly and honestly connect with each other.  For both the goal is to provide a place for spiritual growth in the context of community.  Of course there are other ways this can happen outside of WCV’s structure – and we encourage that too!

Jesus also had crowds of followers (until he ended up on the cross, but that’s another story and is also where this metaphor breaks down a bit… ).  These crowds provided many opportunities for the Kingdom to advance and for Jesus to pursue his mission.  Our Sunday gatherings and our weekly Drop-ins are great spots for this kind of activity.  They have advantages of feeling part of something bigger, preaching the gospel and instruction, public celebration, worship, etc.

And finally, we have our mission field.  Our goal is to create a opportunities for growth at every sphere of interaction.  We want to cultivate a rich environment for each person who calls WCV home to grow in their relationship with God and with each other – and we want to grow to see more people come to know Jesus in real and life-changing ways.

Because of their emphasis on personal growth and discipleship, we’ve identified the first two areas, Triads in the Outer Circle, and House Groups as a requirement for membership in WCV (Outer Circle or a Similar Group – like a House Group).

For those who are looking to be part of a Triad in the Outer Circle process for 2017, now is the time to be preparing for it.  Go here, or grab a booklet from the info table for more.


Outer Circle & Financial Info Night

On March 19 we are having a special Outer Circle evening.  It will include our usual great supper together and sharing in our Triads, however we’re also going to present our budget for 2016 and hear from our BOD about some new initiatives and posture regarding the finances and assets of WCV.

Everyone is welcome for this evening.  If you are not part of the Outer Circle, you are welcome to come and check out what our gatherings are like.  We promise not to make it awkward for you!  We will have information available the Sunday beforehand for you to digest.

Saturday, March 19, 5:30 – 8pm.

Supper – Financial Info – Triad Sharing – Ending in Communion.

A reminder that if you have not yet put your name in for the Outer Circle, or an equivalent for 2016, please do so before this meeting so we can have an accurate WCV Membership list.  For more about membership at WCV go here.  Please contact the office to sign up.


If you are coming, please contact the office so we know how much food to prepare.

Also, if you require childcare, please contact the office to sign up.

WCV Membership – Tag, you’re it!

If you’ve been following along on our communication about the Outer Circle Process, you’ll have picked up that those who are part of the Outer Circle are also formal members of WCV.  However, there is another way to be a formal member.  If you are not part of the Outer Circle this year, yet still doing something similar, you can put your name forward to be a formal member of WCV.  This is an annual process, so even if you put your name forward last year, you’ll need to do it again this year.  So the ball is in your court, so to speak… tag, you’re it!

OC Logo 2016We’ve explained what we mean by “an equivalent” of the Outer Circle here.  Formal members of every charity in Canada have the opportunity to vote.  This is true for us, but we also use it as a way to see with who is tracking with our call as a church.

Membership is not the same as belonging.  Everyone is loved and valued.  Everyone and anyone can belong here at the Vineyard and can take it at their own pace.  However, only formal members can vote.  We will be voting on new elders at our Outer Circle gathering in June.

>> More info on WCV Membership here.

>> Contact the Office to sign-up.


First 2016 Outer Circle Gathering is Today!

The 2016 Outer Circle process kicks off tonight (Saturday, Jan 16) at 5:30pm.  We will eat together, be encouraged and celebrate communion.  We will also be updating our list of OC participants for 2016 – including Triads. If you haven’t yet signed up with the office, no problem for this time – just come!  Also, we will have an Open Table for anyone who has not yet found a Triad, or for those who simply don’t know who to ask to be in a Triad.  You are Welcome!

5:30pm – 8pm.

>>More info about the Outer Circle process.


Why You Should Join the Outer Circle Too!

Here are a few short stories from people in the Outer Circle process.  They each share about the significance of the Outer Circle in their particular journeys.  If you’re inspired to join go here to find out more about the Outer Circle for 2016!

Here’s Chloe Bishop:

Here’s Melody Schellenberg:

Here’s Jodi Labun:

Here’s Suhail Stephen:

Here’s Jessica Williams:

Here’s Cliff Heide:

>>More Outer Circle info here.

OC Logo 2016

Outer Circle Orientation

The Outer Circle is one of our primary discipleship tools at WCV.  It’s our attempt to create just enough structure while leaving room for plenty of flexibility to help us on our journey towards being like Jesus.  It’s the task of discipleship.  It’s the joy and the work of submitting our wills, habits, desires, our very lives to God, who takes them and forms us into the likeness of his Son.

If you are interested in joining the Outer Circle process, the time to join is between our October and January gatherings.  Everyone is welcome, but you have to commit to the process.  Read more about it here or pick up a copy of the Outer Circle manual at the info table.  Also, we are hosting an Outer Circle Orientation lunch right after church on Sunday, December 6th. If you are interested in coming to the orientation, please let us know by calling or emailing the office.

The first Outer Circle gathering of the new year is Saturday, January 16 at 5:30pm.

Outer Circle & Membership

We’re postured for another great year with the Outer Circle process.   63 people were involved in 2014.  If you were one of these, please let the office know if you will be in again for 2015.  If you are just joining the Outer Circle for the first time, please let us know.  We’ll need to know if you’re going to be at the first gathering on Jan 17 and who is in your Triad for the year as well.  We need to keep accurate records for a two reasons:

Keeping Track & Planning

We want to know who is participating in the OC so we can plan the gatherings.  But even if you don’t come to the OC gatherings and you are still meeting regularly in a Triad and doing the process, it is still helpful for us to know what’s going on with everyone who calls the Vineyard home.  We are about discipleship and the OC is one of the primary tools we’re using.

By the way, it’s fine if you are part of the OC and don’t come to the OC gatherings for whatever reason (it’s about the relational process and not primarily about the gatherings!).  Just make sure your Triad is meeting together regularly.

WCV’s Formal Membership

The second reason is that the OC (or an equivalent) is WCV’s legal membership.  Every charity in Canada is required to have a membership roster and we’ve chosen to make the Outer Circle ours.  This means that every year, all the “members” need to let us know if they are in for another year or not.  This allows us to keep fresh and updated records of who is tracking with the vision of WCV.  This applies to everyone in the OC.

We have also specified “an equivalent” to WCV’s membership to give room for flexibility to those who are intentionally gathering, getting into each other’s lives and engaging actively in spiritual growth but who aren’t committed to the OC process.  Let us know if this is your case.  You can still be a formal member.

Membership vs Belonging

A quick note about membership – formal membership is a governmental distinction and if you’re not a formal member (participation for this year in the Outer Circle process or an equivalent), then you are still part of WCV.  We hope that’s clear, but we just want to make it very obvious!  Everyone can belong!  (only formal members can vote).

You can contact us with the form below, or just email the office.  If you want a refresher on the Outer Circle Process, go here.



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Outer Circle Logo 2013 copy