This morning I got a call from a band member who had a question about tomorrow’s worship. Somehow we strayed into talking about personality types, and I shared a philosophy I hold: that your strength is also your weakness. Then I shared a sudden thought: God designed us that way on purpose, so that we would need each other and complement each other.
This person then said, “You know what my problem is? I don’t trust God enough.” This is the kind of honesty that excites me. It’s the kind of thing I look forward to seeing in our home group — people being real with each other, and God’s power flowing to them through the others. “And I’m not doing anything about it, I mean, I’m not in a home group or anything.” Well that’s an invitation if there ever was one. I said, “Funny you should say that… would you be interested in a new home group that’s starting soon?”
Well, then I got The Question: “So how is your group different?” And golly, Kay & I haven’t worked out a concise (but accurate) answer yet. So I winged it: “You know what I was saying about how we need each other? I think that in order to do what the Bible says, the Book of Acts stuff, you don’t need an organization. You need a group of people who are going to hang together.”
…Not bad for winging it.
As Kay & I have started bouncing around ideas of how to express our vision, it’s been kind of frustrating, because the vision is so large and multi-faceted, but combines into a coherent whole that we have trouble expressing. “Our group is going to be a jewel with many facets. It’s about… everything!” Yeah. Here, how about this: “It will be relational, and organic.” Uh-huh, organic like vegan? It’s funny, but some of the best expressions we’ve found are old Wimberisms: We want to do the stuff. Everyone gets to play. …But even those don’t have any meaning for most people.
One thing we don’t want is a “hospital” group. We’ll have a lot of prophetic ministry, and everyone is hurting in some way (and some way more than others), but the group isn’t about “poor old hurting me.” A purely inward focus will eventually suffocate any group. One of the best things we learned at the Champaign Vineyard was, if you want to be healed, get out and serve. And I think that applies not just to individuals, but also to groups. Our group needs to exist for the sake of others, or we will grow stagnant and die.
And if it’s organic, it can’t sit still. If it’s healthy, it will grow and multiply. Growth is usually slow, at first. That’s OK. Here’s Jesus talking about multipication of groups: “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows — he has no idea how it happens.” (Mark 4:26-27) But this idea that it’s OK for groups not to grow is a crock. I mean, the Vineyard is a church-planting movement because starting churches from other churches is effective, right? It’s painful and requires sacrifice, but we do it because it’s healthy and fruitful, right? Then why shouldn’t the same hold true for micro-churches? People resist multiplying a group into two because “it will split us up.” As Kevin Rains writes in an Allelon article, “When we sacrifice mission by clinging at all costs to community we’ve maligned both community and mission.” Churches press through this to plant other churches. How? By making it a clear priority from the beginning. (Have you noticed that churches that quickly plant other churches continue to do so, while those that “wait until everything is ready” never do?) This simply needs to be made the genetic code (another Wimberism!) of micro-churches: it’s not about being comfortable, it’s about the kingdom of God. It’s hard, but it’s fun and worth it. Keeping all the good stuff to ourselves is selfish.
At the same time, Kay & I have a stubborn faith that everything that happens in the kingdom of God happens relationally. And when I say relationally, I mean as friends, not as colleagues and associates. I mean as brothers and sisters, as family. (Memories come back of me & Kay in tears in a Vineyard pastor’s office, complaining that no one was looking out for us. His response was to say that leadership is lonely, and it just gets lonelier, and we had just better get used to it. What a crock! I refuse to accept other people’s failed realities as my own.) …I’m not really ranting here, just giving a picture of past frustrations. Mainly, I am very excited about what lies ahead. It’s funny, here we are in a church that is the least cell-church oriented of the Vineyards we’ve been in, but we feel like we’re being given greater latitude to pursue our passion than ever before.