Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Branches- A deeper Explanation

I have had a couple of people in the past few weeks ask me to further explain what it would look like to be in a Branch on a day to day basis.

I can explain it like this.

We are all busy and lead lives that have many activities pressing on our time daily.  It gets very difficult and overwhelming to balance work, family, relationships, sports, hobbies, etc.

Now, a typical “church” thing is to saddle people with more activities onto these already busy schedules.  Be in a Bible Study, mid-week prayer meeting, Women’s ministries, Men’s breakfasts, etc.  Lately, you are expected to “be in community together”, or “do life together”, so that just adds to the busyness.  There is a pressure and expectation that you need to be involved and if you are not, your commitment to serving the Lord and the “church” is questioned.

At the Vine and the Branches, we have seen this as a hopeless situation, and a failure of the modern church.  It burns people out, makes you feel guilty for not doing more, makes serving a burden rather than a joy, and cuts you off from having any real impact in your community.

As a solution to this, the Branches will be operating in the Community that you are in.  Remember, we are defining community as the place you physically live, or the place you live your life.  There are all kinds of people in these communities we are connected to, and all have the same need:  to know Jesus and His revolutionary Gospel.  It does not matter if they are following Him or not, we all need the Gospel to transform our lives.

In light of this, a Branch will be someone (or more) from the VnB engaging in their Communities, intentionally bringing the Gospel according to their passion and gifting.  It will not be adding another activity to your schedule.  Rather, it will be incorporating Jesus and the Gospel into what you are already doing.  It will not be forcing you to be somebody you are not, or make you do something you are not interested in being a part of.  You are who God has made you to be, and He has placed you in the Community you are to introduce Jesus into it.

Therefore, the ministry of the Branches will be very flexible, very fluid.  It will look different from place to place, and Branch to Branch because we are all different in gifting, personalities and passions.  There might be other Christians in your Branch, and their might not be.  It doesn’t matter if they go to another church or not, nor does it matter if they choose to be a part of the VnB at our Sunday gathering or not.

We will all be working for the same goal, to introduce Jesus and His Gospel to people. 

For those of you reading this who like the idea, but feel like you are not equipped to do this, I will post another time about the role of Sunday teaching and Leaders in the ministry of the VnB.  

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Post Migration

Hey all-

We have shifted the posts for this site over to the FB page as this seems to be a good place for the most people to hear about what we are doing:


You can also become a follower of our Main Page on Facebook here:


The ultimate goal is to get our website up and running and have that replace our blog entirely.

I will post some of the items from the Facebook page over to this blog, but not every time.

Thanks for all the prayers and support you guys and gals have been giving to this point!  God is moving and it is exciting to see where he will go in the future with this church!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back in the Saddle....


It has been a challenging, faith stretching past few weeks.  Whoever thinks the life of a disciple is tame or boring needs to check their pulse! Or maybe read their bibles... There has been so much going on sometimes I forget to breathe... welcome to church planting!

God has been revealing so much of Himself to our family, and me in particular.  He is teaching me about the nature of discipleship, what it means and the cost of following Him.  He is reassuring me that He desires fruit to be born through us so that His glory can be made known to the world; however, He is a master gardener and knows when His branches need to be pruned to bear the fruit that He desires.

I know many of you have been asking how the process is going and what you can be praying for.  These requests are in no particular order....

That our house would sell.  
 In our limited perspective, a lot of Spokane related stuff  is hinging upon what will happen with our house over here.  It makes us feel a bit in limbo. This past month we lowered the price a bit, repainted the upstairs, and pulled all the carpet to reveal the hardwoods.  It looks like a totally different house.  Now we need someone to fall in love with it like we did!

Lack of fundraising.  
Many of our readers have seen the letter we sent out about why we are trying to get some planting money lined up.  We have truly been "blindside blessed" by some of you.  That said, we are not getting much response at all to this point.  Faith stretching and humbling, especially since we are 5 weeks out from not having income.

If you are not at a place to chip in here, perhaps you can pass the blog on to others who might share in our common vision? 

That God would continue to move in the hearts of His people in Spokane.  
God spoke to Paul in Corinth (Acts 18) and told him to keep proclaiming the Gospel with confidence because He had many people there.  Both saved and yet to be.  How exciting and motivating to know that God is moving and the body of Christ connected to us is a part of that, for His Glory!

Amy and I can get some quality time.  
Life has been so busy these past few weeks, we are needing to take advantage of the limited times we have to connect.  I mean, she is totally awesome, magically babelicious, and wonderful to be around.  I would be a fool not too!!

Our girls would be comforted.  
The reality of moving is setting in for them.  It is my desire to help them be a part of what we are doing, to own the process according to their passions and gifting.  We are a planting family, not individuals.  Pray that Amy and I can be sensitive to them in the middle of the stress and that God can reveal to us how we can include them in the mission.

I will post again shortly some thoughts about how God desires fruit for His glory.  It has really been transforming my understanding of serving him, how it plays out in ministry, and what that would look like for a church.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Mission Part 2: The Branches

The Vine will most certainly be an important piece to our passion to proclaim the Gospel and see disciples commit to Jesus.

I will say this right now, however.  We are not interested in just starting another "church".  A Sunday event where people show up, punch their spiritual time card and leave for their weeks.  A place with every conceivable program driven to satisfy all the consumers and the potential "felt needs" they might have.  There are plenty of these kinds of churches in Spokane, and they are fulfilling what God is calling them to do.  I am not knocking them, just saying that we are not interested in that model of "church".

Most of our ministry will take place in The Branches.  Here is our passion for what this vital aspect of our ministry is:

Because of Jesus' love for us, the branches grow from the Vine into our communities through the diversity of gifts God has given His people.

So lets unpack this idea a bit.

Again, first and foremost, it is the great love that Jesus has for us that compels us to love others for His sake and His glory.  Without loving people, we are not ministering or communicating the transforming message of the Gospel.

What we envision with the Branches are community specific, community driven ministries.  "Community" can be a misunderstood term in Christian circles.  At The Vine and the Branches, we view community from 2 angles: the place where you physically live and the place(s) where you live out your life.  With this definition in mind, a Branch grows from the Vine into the area you live, bringing the life-giving Gospel of Jesus to everyone who shares in that community with us.  

The main "Branch" will grow into the communities where our people live.  From there, offshoots will grow into other communities  (where we live out our life); each one tied into the Branch for nourishment, which in turn is connected to the Vine.

The forms that these Branches take on will vary from community to community.  There is no "one size fits all" approach to this.  That is because as ministers of  Jesus, He has uniquely gifted us to serve the people around us and to share with them the Gospel. 

Here is what we mean:

A branch grows from the Vine into the Manito area (a community in Spokane).  God's people in Manito unite together to minister to this unique community.  This could take on many forms based on the passions/gifting of the people there, balanced with the needs of the community around them.  Those are the offshoots.  They are still connected to the Manito branch, which is still connected to the Vine; but the ministry is focused on where they live, and the areas they live out their lives.  

The really cool thing about this is that because we are all connected to the same Vine, each Branch is very much tied into each other, modeling what believe the Body of Christ should be doing.

I will flesh this out more in another post for sure, but hopefully this gives you all some more understanding of what we are trying to do.

God is Good!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Method Part 1: The Vine

Our mission at The Vine and the Branches will play out in two arenas.  Our "hub" of ministry will be called the Vine.  Our outreach into the communities of Spokane will be called The Branches.  Both locations are intentional in their focus of introducing people to Jesus and teaching them the nature of discipleship.

The Vine will function as the place where we will gather together for corporate worship.  Here is our Mission Statement for the Vine:

With Jesus’ love as our source, the Vine exists to be a place where people gather together for Worship, Teaching, and Training

In breaking this down, here is what we intend:

First and foremost, Jesus is the reason for all that we do.  The life and vitality of our entire ministry is due to the fact that we are rooted and attached to Him.  If we were to separate ourselves from total dependence on Jesus, we would wither and die just like a branch that is removed from a tree.  Moreover, it is because of Jesus' great love for us that we are compelled to love others and introduce them to Him.

So The Vine will be a place that is drawing its strength, mission, vitality, and passion from Jesus.  He is the whole reason we exist.

Now, when we gather at the Vine as a community of people, it will be for 3 primary reasons.  These will be broken down in more detail in the posts to come, but here are some initial thoughts:

Gather to Worship together 

We all worship something.  It is how our Maker created us.  Even those of us who are still rebels worship, it is just not God.  We want the Vine to be a place where all people can be introduced to the majesty of our King.  A place where all people can experience their Creator and have their minds and hearts touched by the "eternal" that has been placed there by God Himself.  He has truly set eternity on our hearts, and when we worship together, the seeker and the disciple both can and will have their minds and hearts touched by God.

Gather for Teaching

Our primary goal in our teaching/preaching at the Vine is to proclaim the Gospel.  The Gospel is not simply the "Romans Road to Salvation" or the 4 Spiritual Laws. Nor is it purely knowledge.  It is the glorious Good News of God's story enfolding from Creation to Restoration.  It should challenge our thinking, touch our emotions, capture our imaginations, convict us of our sins, and encourage us in our hearts.  We need to see how the Gospel intersects with our daily lives and those around us.

Gather for Training

We also need to be trained in how to follow Jesus.  Our nature as fallen rebels makes the way of Discipleship foreign to our thinking.  Now, in our opinion, Sunday morning sermons are not effective for training people to follow Jesus.  A central ministry of The Vine will be training people to walk with Jesus outside of Sunday.  This will happen in The Branches.  It will also happen in The Vine.  This process will be very dependent on the needs of the people God has given us.  It could be training sessions at The Vine during the week.  It could be one of The Branches hosting something at The Vine.  Very flexible.

In reality, much of our ministry will take place in The Branches....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Mission

Mission statements all seem to sound kind of the same. Because in reality, we are all shooting for the same target. Well, usually.

We thought and prayed about how we can summarize what we feel God is leading us to do in one sentence. We wanted to incorporate both our passion for how awesome Jesus is and our dependence on Him with the Vine and Branches terminology. After many re-writes, here is our mission statement:

Fully dependent upon Jesus, the Vine and the Branches exists to proclaim His Gospel, making disciples that will go out and bless the city of Spokane for His glory

Let me break this down briefly.

As stated in the last post, we are all about Jesus and His Gospel. Everything we do is to give Him glory and focus people to the one hope for all humanity. He is the reason we have hope for eternity and joy for living. Therefore, we are fully dependent on Jesus and exist to proclaim His Gospel.

Our mission, our mandate, our job, is to make disciples. Jesus told us as much in His Commission. We believe that the Scriptures teach this is a lifelong process, not one that starts after a certain level of maturity is reached.

If you think about it, for most people who come to know King Jesus, the process of discipleship starts before "conversion". They are friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors who see our transformed lives and something stirs in their hearts to know more. What is so great about this is that we get the opportunity to introduce them to Savior of the world. The true hope for humanity. God's Spirit grips them and the Rebels throw down their weapons and fall down at God's matchless Grace given to us through Jesus.

But discipleship does not end there. We are called as a people to shepherd each other in the new life we have been given. Some need to learn the basics of our faith, as newborns need milk. Some disciples are ready for solid food and growth from just milk. Some are mature and need to step out in faith to disciple others. This is a lifelong process, happening all around us. Our goal is to make disciples.

We also have a strong desire to bless Spokane. A great city, coming into its own identity. But like any city, there is more work to go around than bodies to do it. We are a part of the city, we receive good things from the city, we participate with the city as it grows and changes. As good citizens of an eternal Kingdom, we have the opportunity to bless our city and our neighbors by engaging with them to make Spokane a more beautiful place.

Ultimately, it all goes back to Jesus though. It is for His glory that we do all of this. Not ours. It is His story, not ours. It is His mission, not ours. Everything we do should be a spotlight pointing people to Jesus.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

So What Are We About?

Ok, so this post is getting into the meat and potatoes. No more "back-story". These next posts will come in rapid succession.

What is the Vine and the Branches all about?

First and foremost, we are all about Jesus and His Gospel. We truly believe that Jesus is the only hope for the entire creation. We believe that through His work on the cross (his life, death and resurrection), He is in the process of restoring all things back to the perfection we had before sin entered into the world.

He is reconciling broken rebels back to their Father, restoring us to relationship with the Creator of the Universe.

He is creating a new humanity, tearing down the man-made dividing walls our cultures have created and making a new people whose lives are identified in Christ and His Kingdom.

Ultimately, He will also restore the creation back to the balanced perfection it had before sin subjected it to futility.

The Gospel contains all this in glorious depth. It is His power for salvation to all who believe. Everything we do: every sermon we preach, song we sing, program we form, outreach we attempt, and gathering we have, are to proclaim the Gospel in a relevant way to the people God has placed in our lives.

Therefore, The Vine and the Branches is first and foremost all about Jesus.

We draw our name from Jesus Himself in John 15:1-11. Jesus is our source of life. If we attempt to live as a church apart from Jesus, we will bear no eternal fruit, and eventually wither and die. If we stay rooted in the Vine:

we will draw all the nutrients and strength we need for the mission,
we will be fruitful,
we will be secure when trials and hardships come,
we can ask God for miraculous transformation in Spokane and He will answer,
we will glorify God.

There really is not much secret to having a lot of people show up on a Sunday morning and grow a "Church". Get the most dynamic speaker possible who tells people how great they are, have a rocking band, and set up every conceivable program to appeal to the consumers. Use established business models to accommodate the budgets and growth and Bob's your uncle. Mega-church.

Not interested in that.

The next posts will describe how we are taking this Vine and Branches thought and applying it to church ministry.