Part I: Make It All about God

Last Sunday, I believe, could be a “turning point” day for Vine Street Christian Church, if we let it. We must nurture the spirit and cultivate the soil that is being tilled in our church, and in our own hearts.  With all the “digging” going on right now, I think the most important thing for us to do is keep everyone safe and secure within the “boat” – the Jesus boat. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself. The potential for what is beginning to happen in our midst is life- and church- changing. But it must be all about God — God’s plans, God’s timing, and God’s Spirit. Therefore, the most critical decision we have to make as a congregation right now is to let God have this … to relinquish our need for some control and comfort in this … to support each other in a firm and embracing Christ-like manner … and to surrender the need for change on our terms and in our time, and instead let God rule and allow Jesus to be our Lord. 

Part II: No Turning Back

This week’s “good News” for me is that I have begun to sense that WE CAN DO THIS! Because GOD IS DOING IT! The call to ministry that I have is to be here, in a small but mighty congregation that is hungry for more Jesus and at least open-minded enough to listen to things that are foolish in the eyes of the world. After more than 2 years, I can tell you that this call is being affirmed by God. And now, today, we are in a tenuous position as a small-town, mainstream, denominational church. You see, normally churches don’t do what we’re doing! Most churches prefer, indeed they even excel in, NOT rocking the boat. The best change is no change. They like to come together once a week in a joyous spirit to receive the good news about themselves and their church, which affirms that they are right where they are supposed to be in God’s eyes.  And, as we all know, that is a warm and comforting feeling! And so even now, in our own hearts, we are wondering, why. “Why, for God’s sake, would we do something different?” And the answer to that is in the question: FOR GOD’S SAKE! 

Part III: Let’s Think About This …

I know that it’s hard for many of you to see that our church, along with most other American Christian churches, have strayed from the “way of Jesus” over the last century, and way before that. And unless we become willing to put our lives and our church in front of a “Gospel-reflecting mirror,” then we would probably never “see” the gap between where we are today and where Jesus is today. 

But the “churches” that are willing to do something like that – to reflect in a serious way about the way of Jesus, and then apply it to their own church – they will become the 21st century Jesus communities. And those “communities” will be the “churches” that redefine the Christian landscape in our land, and join the Jesus movement that is emerging all across the globe in so many shapes and forms. In the glory of their vast diversity, those church communities will all have one thing in common … Jesus Christ and His Gospels in the center of everything. They will come to believe and know that their future is already in the hands of God, and to join God in that kingdom-building mission means to put Jesus above all, Lord of all, in front of everything in their lives … including, significantly, even this wondrous creation we are all part of called “our church.” 

Yes, of course, without a doubt, we have a great church today, and our future looks brighter than many others. But though being a “great church” is a wonderful thing, being a “Jesus community” is beyond comparison.  I believe God is moving here at Vine Street because we are a great church, poised to take that fateful leap into the unknown to realize all that God has to offer us.     

Part IV: It’s Worth It 

People of God — Keep the Faith! 

What is going on here is too rare and precious to miss, to not be a part of. The 1st century Jesus movement never relied on “bigger is better” theories. Everything Jesus did was “small” and “intimate,” like us. His ministry was mostly one-on-one, and his gatherings were often small groups of neighbors and friends, like us. His whole strategy to change the world started in the hearts of ordinary pilgrims, like us, and in the hearts of whoever else was willing to deny themselves, take up their cross, and commit their remaining time on earth to follow His ways.

When that actually happens in a group of people, large numbers are not necessary; just a small group of dedicated selfless servants banding together to be led by the Holy Spirit. There is no more “abundant life” than that! And life is never the same. 

Part V: It’s a Generational Thing

So, you’re thinking: What can we be? Well, here’s where I think we are today: one small but powerful local church that is facing a “turning point” in its life together, and is seeking with God a new way of being church that we can “pay forward” to the young people and children among us, who will then take it to the next level with Jesus. And if you haven’t noticed, our young people and children are already doing that, in their innocence — and it seems completely natural to them! Go ahead – this Sunday ask one of them about the love of Jesus. 

As adults, we must learn from them … we must pray to become more like them (as Jesus said) … and then, soon, we will start to look more and more like Jesus in the world today. Just like they do.

Pastor Bob