In a few days I will be posting a final message on this blog and moving everything over to a fancy new National blog. I've already set up the domain vineyardthoughtworks.org. The exciting thing is that we now have a national writing team. We'll still aim for a blog post each week, at least until the writers group grows. If you are interested in joining us fire me off an email - the more the merrier!
Thanks for staying tuned during our transition. I am excited about the broader opportunity to serve the whole Vineyard in Canada.
Frank Emanuel for the National ThoughtWorks Team
Just a heads up, cause I know you've probably missed seeing weekly posts here. That will resume shortly.
In the meantime I wanted to let you know that I am recruiting a team of Vineyard folk who are interested in keeping the content flowing. This will correspond to a move from this blog being the Ontario regional blog to the National ThoughtWorks blog. So far I have a good representation from the East lined up and am working on some Ontario folk. If you are interested in being part of the team contact me so that I can share some of the details with you. As always, any one off contributions you wish to submit will be joyfully received.
On another note, I am wondering about how helpful it would be to have a closed forum for preachers and teachers to interact with Vineyard theologians for the purpose of offering constructive critique on sermons and messages? I think it would be mutually beneficial as theologians need to have that interface with what people are actually wrestling with in our movement and often working pastors do not have the same opportunity to research their sermons as they would like. I am thinking that messages and sermons could be given feedback post congregational delivery (so if you record your messages we'd have a place for you to submit that) or pre-delivery if you put it up on the forum a week or so before you were planning on sharing. I think it could also be a good and safe place for teachers and preachers to wrestle through theological implications with like-minded theologians.
This idea came from an email conversation with a pastor who joined the Society of Vineyard Scholars facebook page to ask for just such help. If there is enough interest in the Canadian context then I will pursue trying to develop something to meet this need, possibly as a project that taps into the theological wealth of the SVS as well as our own ThoughtWorks network. What I need to know is if this seems like a good allocation of our resources (time mainly) in providing theological mentoring for our churches in Canada? You tell me.
As always the ThoughtWorks team is here to help our congregations grow in faithfulness to God and to equip the saints for all that our great God desires for us to accomplish.
I would like to post a series of reflections on the intersection of theology with other aspects of our faith lives: worship, mission, service, discipleship, etc. You are invited to join in with a post or two of your own by sending an email to Frank Emanuel. As always, comments are most welcome.
I have been thinking about worship a fair bit lately for two reasons. First I've been asked to write an article on emerging church worship for an academic journal. But, more importantly, we are about to launch a new Worship and Listening group at our church. We've done these groups in the past, the format is simple but often the experience is profound: we gather to sing our worship to God then we wait and see what God might have to say. Even when we do not get anything specific - this act of waiting is often quite significant.
When we wait, especially in silence, we are going against a culture that defines everything by utility, by doing and worse by accomplishing something. To wait on God like this, is to risk not hearing. Instead of focusing on doing it directs us to simply 'being'. God wants us to be still and know that God is God. The theology of this is one of recognizing that God is not something we do. Nor is God is something we accomplish. God is something other than that, and we can completely miss God in all our busyness.
To say this about utility is not meant to devalue doing, or even accomplishing things. The activist aspect of our culture is what is responsible for so many of the awesome advances we all enjoy. Even from a faith perspective, faith without works is indeed dead. However, the mistake of our culture is that the doing is what gets us closer to God, and worse the doing is sometimes mistaken for God. Is it any wonder that our culture is so full of tired, burned out people when we have placed doing above hearing?
How often have you been caught up in doing, doing, doing? How often do you miss God when you do not pause and listen for what God is actually saying. I know that I tend to miss God's affirmations of me when I get busy. No wonder I often get overwhelmed when I let the busyness of life take over. It is when I stop and turn my attention to that still small voice that I hear God say how much I am valued and loved regardless of anything I can do. I am convinced that in that recognition is the rest in which we find salvation - not the busyness of our works, even our most important works.
This reflection is just one aspect of the intersection of theology (what we think and say about God) and worship. As we head into this new year, I hope that you will think deeply on the theology of all that you do as a people of faith. But most of all, I hope this encourages you to stop, wait, and listen to what God is saying.
Frank Emanuel, Freedom Vineyard, Ottawa
Unfortunately things have been a bit busy around here to keep up with any of the blogs I work on. I will be working hard over the next few weeks to get some content in the queue for the ThoughtWorks blog. As always I am awaiting content from Vineyards and friends of the Vineyard. Just send it on to me. This can be as simple as a pointer to something helpful on the web to an article which you have written. Together we can make this resource better and better.
In the meantime I trust that preparing for Christmas celebrations with your church families is going well. Personally, we have been using the advent candles and gospel readings to augment our own family celebration of the season. The kids love it and my youngest has jumped up to do readings. Just as important as it is to develop good traditions within our churches, it is also good as parents to do the same in our homes. We impoverish our family's faith life when we expect religious education to be someone else's job. I pray that you will all find special and memorable moments throughout this season of expectation and longing. May Christ be renewed in all our lives this Christmas season.
Frank Emanuel for the National ThoughtWorks team!
I've been part of discussions recently about the term evangelical. As in who is this term appropriate for. But it gets me thinking about the various titles we use to describe ourselves today. In particular, what does it mean to be a Vineyard person?
Vineyard, as a label, shares a lot of similarities with evangelical. Hopefully everyone who would call themselves a Vineyard person in some way find a great attraction in what they have experienced of the values and practices of the Vineyard. But when you get to know this large family to which us Vineyard folk belong, well you realize that there are a lot of different aspects of these Vineyard values that people gravitate towards. In fact sometimes there are aspects of the Vineyard family that folks find not so attractive. If calling myself evangelical meant that I affirmed everything every evangelical did and stood for then I'd be in trouble (probably having narrowed the definition to one particular branch or manifestation of evangelical). Likewise, it isn't everything the Vineyard does that makes us go 'yay Vineyard'. Rather it is the overall ethos, the community and the family that grabs our hearts so strongly.
It is also the quality of people that Vineyard seems to attract. (At least for the most part.) Those dyed in the wool Vineyard folk, even when they have different ways of interpreting various Vineyard values, are in my opinion quality people. Passionate about what they believe in. Confident in God's character and activity. Committed to the whole Body of Christ. Good people. Maybe it is the fact that we value family so much, we realize that the bonds that hold us together deserve the willingness to hear each other fully and to not feel like being family means we all need to believe things exactly the same way. This is the strength of a movement based on values rather than a statement of faith. It is also what I believe will help the Vineyard carve out her place in the future as a family that faithfully proclaims the gospel of our great Savior. Evangelicals, at their core, have this same desire to proclaim the gospel - even though there is a wide variety of ways that gospel is understood (both in proclamation and enactment). It isn't the little things that are important, it is the commitment to being faithful to God that makes both groups dear to my heart.