Got an interesting email asking us about our church today. Seems blogworthy so I offer it here:
Hi, I visited your website and was interested in learning more about your church.
Do you teach directly from the bible and encourage people to bring their bibles to church.?
Is your church an extension of the toronto vineyard or part of that organization?
i.e. the “toronto blessing” in the early 1990s?
do you have altar calls each week and offer to pray over people to receive the holy spirit? and consider the holy spirit to be active in your church.
does your church believe in the rapture and that we are in the end times as evidenced by the the re-establishment of israel as a nation?
thanks for your time and god bless.
Here’s my answer:
Thanks for the interest!
Your’s is the first such line of questioning like this I’ve received! I hope the answers come across well in email!
In addition, I’d strongly encourage you to listen to the sermons. We’ve got sermons for the last few years right on the church site. That will give you the best flavor. You’ll see it’s pretty hard to pigeon-hole us.
1. Yes. And we even offer Bibles for people to take with them.
2. No. The Toronto Blessing was a blessing to many, myself included. But the Vineyard (our denomination) determined that although it was a God-thing, it wasn’t “Vineyard.” We’re not about “bless me” conferences. We’re about reaching the lost, healing the sick, and serving the poor. That Toronto church ended up leaving our denomination over a decade ago.
3. Yep. The Holy Spirit is very active in our church. And I’m quite intentional about inviting people to join the journey of following Jesus. But this is where we get “hard to pigeon-hole.” Active Holy Spirit presence in the Vineyard isn’t hyped up and emotional. It’s often laid back. He’s always working, we get to participate.
4. We’re all over the map with end-times. Personally, I believe we’re in the end-times…and have been since the resurrection 2,000 years ago. Pre-trib, Post-trib, millenial, like the 12 disciples of Jesus, we’re all over the map with our views.
But we’re far more interested in being overwhelmed by Him and by “doin’ the stuff” (seeing people healed, demons cast out, prophetic words given, people drawn to intimacy with God, etc) than in nit-picking about our end times view. We’re amazed that He was able to pull together tax collectors and people that killed tax collectors…even in his inner circle. He didn’t spend the majority of his 3 years of ministry teaching on “end times” so we don’t either.
Another way we’re hard to pigeon-hole: we are open to anyone visiting BEFORE their life is perfect and cleaned up. Gay, straight, alcholic, non-alcoholic, gossip, busy-body, we’re open to them hanging out with us.
I don’t rant about sin. Sin is real and we need to confess sin as sin and get in line with God. But to focus solely on sin is to focus on the weeds rather than on producing the fruit. The only way we can be so sold on grace and mercy is that we know that sin is very real. Real enough that Jesus had to die.
But no one sin is “worse” than any other. Homosexual lifestyle is no worse than gossiping. Alcoholism is no worse than an addiction to pleasing people. I’m annoyed by churches that focus solely on the “gospel of sin management.” Generally, the sins that are seen as “really bad” are just the ones that “we’re not doing.” I may be a gossip and dishonest, but at least I’m not a _________________ (fill in the blank).
While hanging out with us, people bump into Jesus. Some sooner; some later. The Holy Spirit guides them to changing lifestyles. And we’re here to help. But whenever I try to be the Holy Spirit and convict people of sin, I invariably screw it up.
While I’m at it, we’re pretty pysched to be living in the 21st century and aren’t afraid of our culture. I love history and our present culture is no more or less depraved than ancient Rome (or any number of other cultures). So we experiment with Facebook and the web and podcasting. And seek out ways to interact pro-actively with our community.
Finally, as you can hopefully see from our website, our big focus is on showing God’s love to the community He’s called us too. Most everyone in our region has heard that God loves them. But precious few have seen Christians being loving. We’re out to change that!
I hope that helps give you a feel from where we’re coming from! We’d love to have you check us out.