Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Encounter @ VRC
Psalm 100: 4
Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name for the Lord is good.
Sometimes we forget that it is the little things that are important.
Things that we take for granted may have a greater impact on someone else.
In an age and time where image is everything, and there is much energy, money and time spent trying to be the perfect church.....have the best lighting and worship teams, the most dynamic pastor, it's the simple things that impact people the most.
I was at Rapha yesterday, when one of the men approached me wanting to talk.
Last Saturday was his first visit to VRC and I knew that God had impacted him in a huge way during our ministry time. As our conversation began, he cut right to the chase.
"Last Saturday night was the first time I have ever felt accepted in a church meeting," he said. He went on to go down this list of things that had happened to him. He confessed that he came simply to get away from Rapha , even if only for a little while. But he never anticipated what was going to happen.
He went on to tell me how he'd been in other churches and felt shame because he was covered in tatoo's. He felt that people were staring at them and judging him because of the tat's. He said that he felt out of place and that people looked down on him. Now before I write on in today's posting, I know ( and you do too) that probably the majority of things he said he felt in other churches was his own "Junk" or personal baggage manifesting. Some might have been the Holy Spirit at work, but no matter which, it put him in a place where mentally and spiritually, he could not hear or receive from God . On the other hand, I know that some people are judgmental when it comes to those who don't fit in a church mold.
Vicki and I belonged to an up and coming church at one time. They were a kind of experimental church for a denomination that was looking to redefine what Sunday Church was all about. We heard over and over that "This church was going to welcome everyone and that we were going to be a church for the unchurched." Well, it didn't take to long for that vision and speech to fall by the way side. We had some folks show up one Sunday asking if they could come in and worship with us. These were hard core people with the whole biker thing going on. Longer than long hair, lots of leather, beard, denim jackets. They came in and sat down together....by themselves. No one in that church even went over to speak to them or welcome them. Vicki and I help to get them some coffee and welcomed them to the service. needless to say we moved on from this "experimental church" shortly after this encounter.
So the main focal point at Vineyard ReCovery Church has been and will always be that we make everyone feel welcomed. This is another reason that the model we do church by is very laid back...relaxed....and interactive. Our worship is what some might say is "Culture Current". By this, I mean that we use the styles and songs that will speak to those who attend." Bottom line is .......If you come to the meeting, and because of the style of church we have, you might.....just might let down your guard and be open to receive what God is doing on that particular night. Such is why we don't look like a normal church....why we don't sound like a normal church....why we don't act like a normal church. This is the model that God has been growing, tweaking and changing over the last 20 years. It fits those He has called us to reach out to.
As I write this, I do want you to know that I am not naive enough to believe that "how" we do church is liked by everyone who comes through our front door. It isn't. Some don't care for the style of church we are, and I'm o.k. with that. We have never tried to be a church that thinks it can be everything to every one. We have been called to serve and minister to a specific people. I get all kind of suggestions from well meaning people who think they are helping. One person suggested that if we wanted to draw larger crowds we should consider dropping the word "RECOVERY" from our church name. I don't mean to be so blunt (maybe I do) but is that word is keeping you from coming to our meetings, then you probably don't need to be there anyway.
Our main goal at VRC is to love everyone. I know...I know...we hear that all the time in churches everywhere. I want the love we show to be genuine and direct to the individual. To convey the truth that "You are important to God and to us." In fact, I have told our core leadership that is someone comes to our meeting and we never see them again, if they didn't get anything during their time with us, I pray that they went away knowing that God loves them and so do we.
Going back to the conversation I had with the young man at Rapha.
His was the highest compliment a church could receive.
I will take it, that we are a place where anyone can come in and meet with the Living God in such a way that they are impacted by the encounter.
Nothing I did...
Nothing that my core leadership did....
Everything that God did!
God on you...
The fall of 1969.... "One way, Man!" One Way! I saw him across the common at Gadsden State. I was headed to my next class and...