Core Connection Course

We are going to be hosting four evenings of storytelling and teaching designed to connect you with the heart, vision and practices of WCV. Sometimes we all need a reminder of why we’re here, what God wants to do among us and through us, and what kind of community we are becoming. These evenings will do just that.

They are for newcomers to the community, old-timers who’ve been around forever, and anyone in between.

Connect to:

  • Our Vision,
  • WCV’s Core Practices & Vineyard Values,
  • Where we’ve come from and where we’re going,
  • The kind of community God is calling us to become, 
  • Each other!

Four Thursday Evenings at 7pm.

Feb 11, 18, 25 & Mar 4.

Via Zoom (register to get the link).

Register here. Registered participants will receive a package in the mail.  Be sure to register early to allow time for snail mail!

 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.

John 15:16 (Msg)

Transformed, Connected & Activated – the kind of people we want to become

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)

Transformation

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

“You should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:1

Connection

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

Activation

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.” 

Hebrews 10:24-25

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!

Community Update: Summer 2019

Dear WCV Community,

We want to take this opportunity, mid-way through summer and mid-way through the year, to update you on a few items of importance pertaining to the life of our community as we evaluate the past six months and look forward to the rest of 2019 and beyond. It’s a fairly extensive note, so sit down somewhere sunny and dig in… 😉

Leadership Team:

The Leadership Team has been meeting monthly to worship, pray, discuss the current issues, make decisions and plan for the future. The Board of Directors, with input from the rest of the team, has begun a number of initiatives. The BOD is ultimately responsible for staffing, financial and governance related issues, among other areas of responsibility. Each of these areas has some momentum which is outlined below. As a whole team, we’re tackling these and other issues in sequence – one step at a time – bathed in prayer. Please continue to pray for us as we seek to follow Jesus, our goal, guide and our source.

The leadership team consists of the Board of Directors and the Pastoral and Lay Elders.

  • Board of Directors: Ben Kelly (Chairperson), Cornelius Martens, Andrew Chan, Paul Ansloos, Marlese Hazeu, Steve Fligg, John Rademaker.
  • Pastoral Elders: Andy (Pastoral Executive) and Beckie (non-staff) Wood, John and Violet Rademaker.
  • Lay Elders: Krista (Elder Point Person) and Cliff Heide, Rod and Elisa Jersak, and Paul and Sherry Ansloos (until Aug 31). We are currently in a new elder process which will see the Lay Elder team expand.

Here is what we’ve been up to:

Staffing:

We have three job postings out there for our Kids and Youth ministries. These portfolios will be filled by one or two people – either one person filling the Director of Kids and Youth ministries role, or one person taking the Kids and someone else taking the Youth. Cornelius, Stephen, Jodi and Andy have been working on this. We value our next generations and want to ensure as little disruption as possible with Jodi’s transition.

Second, we have a clear need to increase our team’s capacity in the area of pastoral care. Over the past year our Pastoral Elder team has been significantly reduced while the needs have increased. We are working on a few ways to address this challenge. 

  • We want to see more House Groups develop. Being a member of a small group like this has many positive benefits – one primary benefit being a space for people to be cared for pastorally. 
  • However, we are still keenly aware of the need for more trained and experienced pastoral help. We are exploring various interim options. Andy and John are working on this.

Vision:

There are three documents that are influential in our understanding of who we are, and what kind of community we are to be. At our latest Leadership Team meeting we agreed that our own WCV Core Practices, Vineyard Canada’s “Why Vineyard” material, as well as Vineyard USA’s Core Values documents are central to our own understanding of who and what WCV is to be. This decision was unanimous. Vineyard Canada’s “Why Vineyard” is still in draft form but will be ready for distribution soon. Our own Core Practices can be found here, and Vineyard USA’s Core Values can be found here. 

WCV’s Core Practices

Financial:

Our 6 month actual results indicate that our 2019 budget was accurate and our income is reduced by 14% from 2018. The most significant news is that we have no deficit and a surplus of $2,140! This is a major departure from years past where at this point in the annual cycle we would be carrying a significant deficit. Vanessa and Andrew have administered every expense item to ensure no deficit spending through prioritizing expenditures with the relevant parties.

We know that with this posture and the decrease in the Pastoral staff team that we haven’t been able to accomplish everything that needs to be done. This will continue until we engage new interim staff and have the ability to afford more permanent staff.

Our estimates for the next six months include increasing income with a total annual budget somewhat higher than $360,000. We continue to exercise a posture of prudent stewardship of what we have and trusting in God’s provision. We are grateful.

Constitution:

Having good structure is important, especially in times of crisis and transition. It allows for common understanding, good governance, clear lines of authority and decision-making processes as well as articulating an organization’s purpose. We’ve begun a constitutional revision that will address our structure and mission. This will include a complete rewrite with legal input to address any areas that are unclear or deficient. The BOD has struck a committee for this and has invited a representative from the Elder team as well. Cornelius, Stephen and Beckie will be working on this. There will be input from the membership as appropriate. All changes will be subject to membership ratification.

Communication:

We are aware of the need to keep everyone in the loop as things develop. We also know that you care deeply about WCV and what’s going on at a leadership level. Thank you for this concern and thank you for the times you’ve reached out to any of the Leadership Team for clarification, suggestions, etc. Please keep doing this! We also recognize that our efforts at communication have been imperfect and have caused pain – we apologize for this and will keep trying to communicate regularly and clearly.

Nathan:

We know we haven’t said much about Nathan recently. This isn’t because it’s a taboo subject but rather because there isn’t much to say. Legally, he is a former employee which does play a factor in what we can say. Emotionally, he is a former pastor – this hits each of us differently. 

We do want to take this opportunity to reiterate a few things we’ve said before. The Pastoral Elders and others continue to walk individuals through the significant challenges they continue to face while dealing with this situation. There are some who have only recently been able to talk about their sense of betrayal. There are others who are well beyond that. From a leadership perspective this highlights the need for grace and sensitivity for each other. Thank you for the ways you’ve shown this to us and to each other. We continue to lean into pursuing healing through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

We also want you to know that we as a Leadership Team forgive Nathan. Forgiveness does not excuse or justify behaviour, nor is it a one time deal. It takes time, effort and intention. Scripture is clear though – we are called to forgive and we want to lean into that.

We also recognize that WCV must be a safe place and we take seriously the mandate to provide care and protection of the vulnerable among us who have been traumatized by this situation and it’s fall-out. For these reasons, like we’ve said previously, Nathan won’t be returning to WCV. Forgiveness and reconciliation don’t mean that things return to the way they were.

A last note on this subject, we’ve reviewed our whole safety protocol, and have solicited outside input. Our Plan to Protect policy, which has been in place for a number of years, is robust and necessary updates are under way. The policy’s purpose is to provide a comprehensive level of safety to all vulnerable people in the church while they are engaged in church ministries. For people working with our kids and youth there has been one Plan to Protect training this past Spring. Everyone involved in volunteering with our Kids and Youth must take this training. There will be another training this Fall for those who need to complete the training. Cornelius Martens and Jeff Leighton have been working on this (alongside Jodi while she was here). Additionally, our Kid Check system and on-the-ground security in the hallway provide other layers of safety for our kids and youth and our leaders and volunteers. 

Channels for reporting any abuse, allegations, disclosures or incidents are to report to the leader of the ministry involved, or to any member of the Leadership team. They would then communicate directly with Andy who takes all concerns to Ben as the BOD chair. Everything is documented. If there is ever any suspected criminal behaviour, the appropriate law enforcement is involved and should be accessed by any party.

Street Parish / Mercy Reset:

“Food and New Friends” BBQ Lunch

We are currently following through on our decisions to act on the recommendations from the Spring meetings we held with the folks from the Street Parish and the Drop-In. Here’s what’s up:

  • In late June we held a “Food and New Friends” Lunch Barbecue in the Greenspace which was attended by about 150 folks from all over. The intention was to interact with those we didn’t have a relationship with and set up a plan to stay connected. There was good focus on this but we decided not to monitor or survey the results. We know of some activity here and want to see it continue informally. Please feel free to share any new stories with the leadership.
  • Every summer we have “Farm Days”. These outings have become a huge blessing for those seeking a chance to flee the city on a hot day with their families and friends. The food is plentiful but the highlight is the lake – swimming, kayaking, canoeing and water-sliding. LBE freely shares their camp with us and it’s become a much better venue than the farm. In July we had 65 people out. It was more of an “only Street Parish focus” which was one of the requests from the community meetings. We got a cheer from all when we underscored this thought at the lunch. We will do it again August 25 and will be ready for even more people. This is a great place to come, help serve the food, and just be with everyone on the sand beach or in the water. 
  • Regarding Drop-in, there have been no further developments for the Fall. The core of our Street Parish are still with us. It’s not as simple as just starting up where we left off. Our creativity will be tested as we seek the Lord’s provision for helpers. If you have any thoughts, please contact John Rademaker. 

The ongoing blending of people from different lifestyles within WCV is about strengthening personal relationships and sharing in each other’s lives. The commitments to regular friendship connections at the moment seems to be a direction that the Lord is pointing us to. As we taught this past Spring, there is a huge opportunity here for mutual strengthening. We all are needy, poor and ready for encouragement from each other. As scripture teaches, seeing Jesus in each other’s needs is a spiritual lifestyle we all need. Perhaps a combination of already happening connections and periodic meetings that target food, spiritual growth (videos), and fun could propel us into a new dimension of community life.

Conclusion:

We have come through a difficult time in our history. We see the Lord’s hand evident in both shaking up and building up. Even across the country, there are a number of communities, while not sharing our experience, are going through times of shaking. God is taking seriously Vineyard Canada’s initiative of “Health begets Health” (recognizing when we are in a healthy place it will create more health around us – and the opposite also being true) and leading us with grace in order for our communities to be more healthy and effective for his Kingdom. The Spirit is with us, and in us, and won’t leave us! As a leadership team we hold on to this and will continue to seek and follow Jesus one step at a time. At times it feels slow and imperfect. But we trust Jesus and his plans for WCV as we rebuild and re-envision for the future.

With love and gratitude,

The Leadership Team

 

 

One Step at a Time – AGM & other meetings

The past season has been quite a season – an understatement perhaps, but good to acknowledge nonetheless. It has been complicated and difficult in many ways.

Throughout this time I’ve often been reminded of the passage in Hebrews that says of Jesus, “for the joy set before him, he endured the cross.” There was a grit to Jesus’ path to the cross – a dogged “just keep putting one foot in front of the other” kind of determination that I see in him. But there was also something beyond the cross that seemed to impel him forward – something that held his vision. He both worked with what was right in front of him – “one step at a time” as Alcoholics Anonymous wisdom recommends, and he kept his “eye on the prize”, so to speak. I believe the same is to be true of us in this complex time. We need to keep our eyes on Jesus, and be obedient to the small steps along the way – one step at a time – a “long obedience in the same direction” as Eugene Peterson famously put it.

We do have a few steps laid out for us in the coming months. These plans will simply help us be together as a community in a way that we haven’t been able to be for the past little while. This means, getting together, talking about where we’re at and where we’re going as well as hearing what is stirring amongst each other. It means praying together and asking questions of each other. We know there are many conversations happening amongst the community – working through the continued implications of Nathan’s arrest, trial, conviction and recent sentencing, questions about leadership in WCV, the 2019 budget, opinions about where we are heading, where we should be heading and what God is calling us to – these and others are all relevant topics for discussion and prayer. We need to hear each other, and in the midst of it, we need to hear God. This kind of conversation and dialogue together will be healing in many ways, and will also help us discern where we’re at, and where we need to be heading. But it begins, like Jesus, with one step at a time.

Here are a few of the next steps:

Our Annual General Meeting will be Monday, March 11, 7pm. At this meeting we will review our finances (as is required by the Charities Act) as well as provide lots of space for questions and dialogue. Additionally, we’ll have some clarity about leadership roles and responsibilities in WCV.

Secondly, we’re going to be having Community Meetings at which we can further our discussions as well as get some helpful input from you. These will be times to hear each other, hear God, and provide the leadership with a venue for community discernment. We are working on getting some input and inspiration from David and Anita Ruis who will help us unpack what leadership looks like in a Kingdom of God context. Watch for the exact dates of these Community Meetings but the first one will be during the last week in April, and we will likely have another in May.

…we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God!

 

Hebrews 12:2 (TPT)

 

 

 

When the Church Seeks First the Kingdom

Here is an important message given by David Ruis at our National Gathering in Montreal this past summer. Situating us as a Vineyard movement in Canada in the context of where we’re coming from and where God is leading us. It’s an inspired talk. Please take the time to listen – especially in this time of shaking.

>>Click here to download the talk and to view the speaking notes.

 

The end game was never to be signs and wonders. The end game was never to be the published song. The end game was to be “Jesus getting his church back.”

 

Zeus. Poseidon. Aphrodite. Mammon. Consumerism. Racism. Privilege. Abusive power. Lust. Rage. Insanity. Greed. The Lamb has disarmed you, making a public spectacle of you at the cross. We will not bow. We will not submit.

 

“The other really disarming thing for me was the current fruit of a Quaker branch, this capacity to wait. To rest. To not hype or coerce not only the work of the Spirit, but our engagement in the church. All of this impacted the worship. Not only the songs themselves, which reached for a level of intimacy and authenticity like I had never experienced but “why” the songs were not only sung, but set in this certain sacramental way full of expectation and hope, yet not afraid of an almost uncomfortable ease with the place of brokenness.

 

“Oh Lord, have mercy on me. And heal me.
Oh Lord, have mercy on me. And free me.
Place my feet upon a rock.
Put a new song in my heart. In my heart.
Oh Lord. Have mercy on me.”

We were to continue to grow up and into these aspects of “our lane.” Peter Davids, I think, nailed it in 2004.  We were not to camp here. The racial middle of 2018 is not perhaps the radical middle of 1987.”

 

You’re part of something that is in motion and will not stop in its violent commitment to reach, to dream, to prophetically embody and cooperate with, surrender to and engage in in the transforming power of this kingdom coming. This kingdom here.

Repent.

Think again.

Reach again.

Believe again.

Dream again.

The kingdom is upon us. It is here, now, and yet with still a whole lot more to come.

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus. The Spirit and the Bride cry out. Creation groans. Can you hear the cries of the oppressed? The hurting? The dying? Those entangled by the power of their greed? Their need to consume? Their need to belong? To be something?

The endless cycle of the oppressor and the oppressed. The relentless whirlpool of wounding and revenge. The crippling disease of a consumerism that will never. Never. Be enough.

Come. Come all who thirst. Come all who bleed. Come out all who are hiding. Come all who long.