I was recently given a copy of Phil Strout’s (National Director Elect) vision-forward talk at the 2012 Vineyard USA National Leaders Meeting by my Area Pastoral Care Leader. And, wow, was it amazing!
Right from the beginning the Lord was all over that talk as Phil shared a word God had given to him nine or so times via multiple people and/or events over several continents (talk about confirmation!). The word that was given was that “we cannot control the Wind, but we can control how we set our sails.” [Note that I changed the original singular ‘you’ to a plural ‘we’ as it sounds like it is for all of us in the Vineyard.]
Let’s break that down for a minute.
- “We cannot control the Wind…” – In chapter 3 of the Gospel of John, Jesus compares the wind of the air to the Holy Spirit, who similarly blows where and when He wants too. We cannot control Him or manipulate Him into showing up when, where or how we want Him to do so. He is God and His Spirit “blows wherever it pleases” (John 3:8a).
- “…but we can control how we set our sails.” – This is so powerful as it brings home the fact that we can control how we respond to the movement of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul said that the “spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets” (1 Corinthians 14:32) which to me drives home the fact that we can either set our sails to follow where He leads, set our sails slight to the side and go where we want to go, or we can drop the sails all together and stay where we are. The choice is ours.
Wow…talk about an amazing word of the Lord to us… God is not done with the Vineyard as He still wants us to join Him in His mission to love people. Again, what an amazing to start off a new season in the life of the Vineyard? 😀
After this powerful word of the Lord, which Phil tags on the beginning due to the backdrop of the platform being a sailboat (something that was not planned or prepared beforehand as Phil had told anyone about the Wind Word), Phil shares his heart for the Vineyard and what he thinks God is doing among us. While I have posted some of the hightlights that touched me below, you can download the talk from the Vineyard Midwest Regional website (click on the link entitled “Phil Strout February Talk, Nashville” – note that the audio isn’t the greatest so be prepared to turn up the volume).
- Children and Youth – Phil is passionate about young people in the church and allowing them to be the church of TODAY as well as tomorrow. As in, the children in our churches should be learning how to pray for the sick, love the unlovable, hear and feel the movements of the Spirit, and serve people with mercy and love. This passion was echoed by Becky Olmstead, Kids Ministry Task Force Director and new Board Member, who had the chance to speak a bit.
- Church planting – As long as there are people who are not following Jesus, there is a need to start communities of faith to love and embrace people. I was really happy and blessed to hear Michael Gatlin, Board Member and Church Planting Director, say that he is open to expanding the way in which these communities of faith look. Which to me, sounds like he is open for experimenting with some different missional church plants may not look like the ‘traditional’ church plants of the past. Michael also share a bit about the Vineyard USA’s new goal of planting 750 churches over the next ten years.
- Global Missions – As you all know, global missions is something that is dear to my heart. As such, I was thrilled to hear Phil talk about his heart for impacting the nations through local churches working together. Mark Fields, an amazing child of the King and the current Missions Task Force Director, shared a bit about what he see the Vineyard USA doing over the next ten years as well as a bit about what happened over the past ten years (i.e. we planted 800 international churches over the past ten years, now God wants to show us how to plant thousands!!)
- Embracing Our Cities – Sometimes pastors and churches forget that the city leaders (i.e. mayors, city council, etc.) love their city and the people who live there just as much. Accordingly, Phil had Jay Pathak, new Board Member, share a bit about what God has been doing with him in the area of embracing the wider community and simply loving people through non-manipulative acts of service.
- The Presence of God – We are a people who experience God in a real and personal way. Phil wants to continue within that vain with a focus on the presence of God in all His power for we, as followers of Jesus, can do nothing with Him. To help keep us on track, Phil has asked Dianne Leman to be on the board with a focus helping the Vineyard set our sails correctly to catch the Wind of the Spirit.
- Communications – One of the struggles of the Vineyard has always been communications between each of the local churches as we tend to rely on personal relationship versus set communication channels (a friend of mine, Steven Hamilton, recently wrote a SVS paper on this issue entitled “The Relational-Orientation of Vineyard Ecclesiology.” I’m not sure if Phil or the board has read it or not…but they should!). Knowing that communication throughout the Vineyard Community of Churches is important, Phil has asked Jeff Heidkamp, Editor of “Cutting Edge” magazine and new Board Member, to tackle the issue. He also had Jeff stand up and speaks for a few minutes communications.
As you can see, Phil (and the new board) covered a lot of ground in an hour and a half. Yet, it is all exciting stuff!! Come Lord Come! Let us set our sails and follow You. 😀