Earlier I had mentioned in passing that Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby spoke at the Vineyard UK/Ireland National Leaders’ Conference last week. Sadly the conversation between him, his lovely wife, Caroline and the Vineyard national directors, John and Eleanor Mumford, has been taken off the internet… however, I did make some notes about his talk that I wanted to share with you all. 😀
First off, it was really cool to hear a little more about Justin’s background as he has a very influential position on the world stage (the Anglican Communion has around 85 million members worldwide). One cool item that stood out to me was the openness that he and Caroline had towards the movement of the Spirit through signs and wonders. Having never been to an Anglican church, I’ve always assumed that they were more cessatist (I know, I know…it is wrong to assume…). However, Justin spoke of being greatly influenced by John Wimber and having just come back from a retreat center in Europe ran by a bunch of charismatic Catholic monks (I told you assuming was wrong! Besides, I should have remembered that Wimber spend years blessing the Anglican Church!).
Secondly, and I think most importantly, at one point in the conversation John Mumford asked Justin what he thought about the Vineyard. Justin responded with a wonderful encouragement to keep on keeping in the direction and calling that God gave us. Here is the question John asked as well as Justin’s response (transcribed by yours truly):
John: “What do you feel that the Vineyard can bring? What can we contribute as a family of churches that loves to be part of the broader body of Christ?”
Justin: “I think it is a really important question. I think – there is a lot of answer that can come. One of the one’s is around the holistic ministry – the idea that you deal with people as they are, not as you would like them to be – you deal with them where they are – you take them were they are – the ministry to the poor, integrated utterly with a passionate commitment to Jesus Christ and to worship. I think I want to say something else – for me part of the inspiration of the Vineyard is seeing the reminder that in the presence of Christ we can we transform the life of the church, which in the churches we have been at – it is sometimes taken a while – and it is this sense of transformation – of integrity, reality and hope and living in the power of the Spirit. I suppose I want to encourage you all in more than anything else: Do not move away from the gift of the spirit to this place.” (underlines added)
Wow! What a testimony we have as a movement that the Archbishop of Canterbury would recognize our passion for loving God and people! If you think about it, Justin’s comments pretty much took in all five of our core values. And his encouragement to continue on the path laid before us is, as mentioned before, simply amazing! We don’t have to try to be something we are not – we just need to be who God has called us to be.
Thirdly, Justin had some great advice for Christian leaders which I also transcribed for you all:
“The key piece of advice for Christian leaders is that you have to be the one who is growing closer to Jesus; closing closer in your love for Jesus – and nothing else counts. The rest is decorations. If you are not doing that, you’re wasting your time. Nothing else counts, however skillful you are. And to do that it is the obvious, it is the spiritual disciplines. It’s the prayer, fasting, growing in a discipline life- reading the Bible – reading wise commentaries about the Bible, understanding what the Bible says…you have to teach people. If you are going to do that, you need to have thought. Showing them engaging – Rowen Williams said a few months ago, ‘Christian leadership should have a newspaper in one hand and a Bible in the other.’ If people see you are surprised when they ask questions about suffering, about why bad things happen in the world – about some of the big moral and ethical questions we are facing – you may not know, and you have to have the integrity to say ‘I don’t know’ – but let’s work out it together, let’s find out.” (underlines added)
Fourthly, I was surprised to hear that England has just now started food pantries and food banks. In the past, according to Justin, the government has always helped people and the church didn’t need to do anything. The global economic collapse has changed things and now churches across the UK are stepping up to the plate and helping folks out (this includes both Anglican and Vineyard churches as well as other groups).
Fifthly, at the end of the conversation with the Mumfords, Justin gave a short talk that was wonderful. I wish you all could hear it as he about the peace of Jesus, the presence of God, having purpose, and walking in the power of the Almighty (peace, presence, purpose, and power). One of the things that stood out to me the most was Justin’s comment about how our “idols have fallen” (money, economy, stuff, etc.), forcing us to rely on God and the church more than ever. He also encouraged me with the statement that the “power that God gives us is equal to the call that He give us.” Praise the Lord!