LVC Outreach = Infiltrate & Affect
Vineyard USA has recently re-written their Mission statement to be “Reach The Unreached”. Following our recent study of the great Commission, I would like to clarify some thoughts about outreach at Loveland Vineyard Community.
In our beginnings as a movement, our founder John Wimber called us to never forget the poor as we did local ministry. Since then, caring for the poor has been a mark of almost every local Vineyard church. While I celebrate that and never want us to forget it, I have come to realize that for many of us in The Vineyard, that has now become our definition of outreach. Outreach has become ONLY taking care of people who have less stuff that we have. We give food, clothing, shelter, other things but it is always about “giving stuff to people who have less stuff than we have”. We only think about handouts and not about reaching our culture with news of freedom and forgiveness found in relationship with Jesus.
Therefore, I would like to set a new course, a new direction for Outreach at Loveland Vineyard Community. I believe “reaching the unreached” involves the whole community. This whole community is called by Jesus to participate, not just the extroverts or those with a heart for the poor. Our whole community is the focus, not just those with less stuff than us. “Outreach” at LVC will come to mean “infiltrate and affect” your community. Jesus said “GO”. Jesus called us to “be like salt”. A little salt, added to the pot, flavors the whole pot, not just a corner. In that way, each of us is called to infiltrate and affect our family, our circle of influence, our neighborhood, our city. Find a place of interest that gives you an opportunity to rub shoulders with your community. There are lots of places to volunteer, contribute, serve, and participate. We don’t have to organize a new community involvement. There are lots of places out there begging you to come join them. They will welcome volunteers. Follow your heart. Go do what you like, what you are interested in. That interest inside you is God, calling you to your community. Go out, and mix with people who are interested in what you are interested in … AND TAKE JESUS THERE WITH YOU. Jesus is smart, loving, just, caring. Bring him along as you participate and you will find yourself “naturally super-natural”. Join a community board, or a government committee. Volunteer at a school, give people a ride to vote, clean a waterway, be a fan at local High School track meet or football game. INFILTRATE … volunteer to be part of something you love … you will be welcomed!
Then … AFFECT. This is the “change” or “influence” part. Trust the Holy Spirit to fill you, guide you, and inspire you. Trust Jesus to be with you. When you show up “having the mind of Christ” and “filled with the Holy Spirit”, you will be wise, caring, compassionate, loving, and just. You will be “Supernatural” [filled with the life and power of Jesus]. People will notice. They will sense greatness, they will sense the presence of God as you interact with normal activities, as you bowl, paint, go running, play music or bird watch. Show them what it looks like to do normal life as a person who is a NEW CREATION IN JESUS, who is FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. Change your world for Jesus by being involved with your world, by spending your life in the middle of people who don’t know Jesus. They will see and hear and feel that you are different, because Jesus goes there with you!
Because I believe that is what we in this church are called to do, I want to call the church to a new measurement of what it means to be a “successful” church. The typical American church measures their success in terms of the size of their offerings and the number of people who attend. I suggest we measure our “success” by whether our community is being changed, being affected by our presence. Is drug use dropping? Is child abuse and spouse abuse rate dropping? Are racial lines disappearing? Are there less hungry, less homeless? Do more people have jobs? Are the streets safer? Is there less trash and more flowers? If we disappeared, would we be missed? Is our city better because we are here?
What would happen in Loveland, or in the city you live in, if we all went out, intentionally, not doing a church project in our community that we think is important, but getting involved in what the community thinks is important? If we, consciously taking Jesus with us and depending on the working of Holy Spirit within, cleaned up the area of the community that they want cleaned, if we helped with their drug programs, their food programs, clothing distributions and housing efforts. If we helped at their art fairs, and their community festivals. If we go and do what we love, in the community we love, with others who love this community [but may not be connected to Jesus], we will affect our community. When we involve ourselves with our community, with the goal of living and acting and speaking in a way that reflect Jesus, then our lives will show people a better way. Our presence will say “this is what a life lived with God looks like”. As we do that, we can Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, [ 1 Peter 3:15]. That’s called OUTREACH … “Infiltrating and affecting” our community. I think this is something we can all do – not just the extroverts … the evangelists. I think this makes the whole world our audience … not just those with less stuff than we have. I think we are already doing it, we just haven’t connected it to Outreach or Evangelism or The Great Commission. Many of you are involved in all kinds of things in our community. Community choirs and bands, Community Committees or Boards, Service organizations, businesses and jobs, school volunteers, Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, supporting live music. There are many more, those are just examples. YOU ARE OUR OUTREACH TEAM! Jesus gives you a valuable role in the mission of God.
[God] through him [Jesus] to reconcile [bring back together] to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. [Col 1:20]
God is working to reconcile all things to himself. God gave you desires, gave you a love for something, because he loves it. And He wants it brought back, “reconciled” to himself. He wants that area of the world “at peace” with himself.
God is using us to bring his PRESENCE. God is calling us, through your hearts desires, through what you love to do.
There is an old Vineyard saying … Everybody gets to play. This is so true here … if this is how we define OUTREACH. Find something you like to do. Find somewhere in the community they are doing that. Go do it with them. Just take Jesus along. Go do it as a person filled with the Holy Spirit. Listen to what He puts on your heart and their heart. That is at the heart of what Jesus meant when he said “Go out … train everyone you meet in this way of life, and I will be with you” Matt 28 MSSG].
“THE CHRISTMAS STORE”
The power to choose is a concept that is easily overlooked in our traditional spirit of giving throughout the holiday. People look for ways to do something special for others and to help the under resourced in our community with food and family gifts. This year we gave parents a hands up and welcomed parents to choose their own gift from “The Christmas Store”. They were able to choose a gift that was special for their child. The parent was truly able to say, “I chose this for you!” Volunteers from the church cheerfully wrapped gifts, served refreshments, visited and prayed with the parents on this special evening.
It is our hearts desire to be concerned and care for the poor among us. We distribute food boxes of nonperishable foods to anyone who states that they have a need. In addition to nonperishable foods, we typically have frozen meat, eggs, produce items and bread. Families can visit our Food Pantry once a month unless their personal circumstances require more visits. Each box of food contains a variety of foods that can be prepared into healthy meals. The Vineyard purchases the food from Larimer County Food Bank and volunteers from the church sort and box the food each month. We have also been blessed with weekly donations from the Trader Joe Grocery Store. The Food Pantry is open Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 noon or by special appointment. Throughout this past year we have served 60-100 households per month.
KIDS CLOTHES CLOSET
We have a clothes closet for infant and children through size 16. The clothes are donated and are clean and gently used. The Kid’s Clothes Closet is open Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 – 12:00 noon and on Sundays. Parents and Grand Parents are welcome to shop for clothing for their children and grand children. Occasionally there is baby furniture and supplies available. Stop in and check it out!