Tag Archives: Society of Vineyard Scholars

Church Planting: An Interview With Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer has a long and very impressive resume full of planting, revitalizing and pastoring churches across the USA. He has also taught and mentored tons of pastors over the years as well as spend many a hour researching and surveying in state of the local church. Currently he is the President of LifeWay Research and a member of the International Mission Board’s Church Services Team.

Accordingly, his comments on church planting in North America have some weight… as in, they are worth listening too and thinking about. Which is why I recommend reading this article detailing a recent interview with Vineyard USA.

To help spur you on in reading the interview, I have posted some quotes from Ed along with some of my thoughts below.

Reflections on the Church Planting Scene in North America

“I think church planting is exploding. But I think it’s also important to note that the focus of many of these movements, and even the methods that they have used, have been influenced by the gifts that the Vineyard gave us all: a heart for church planting, new network approaches and strategies, and a passion for reaching the lost.”

Yeah…I couldn’t pass up quoting this piece as it is nice to see such favorable press for one’s tribe. Granted, Ed is talking to the Vineyard USA so it could be a simple ‘don’t bite the hand that is feeding you’ statement…but I seriously doubt that as Ed, who is not part of the Vineyard, doesn’t have a motivation to suck up to the Vineyard. If he didn’t like us, he could simply say so and walk away.

Therefore, the fact that he, as a noted missiologist and church researcher, publicly acknowledged the influence that the Vineyard has had on the wider church is amazing! I personally think that one of the reasons the Vineyard, which at 554 churches in the USA is not a large denomination, has had such a large voice in the greater church is because of our love for the whole church. From the very beginning, John Wimber and all the braze souls who started the Vineyard constantly gave way the gifts the Lord in trusted to them to the wider body. It has never been just about the Vineyard; it has been loving Jesus and His Bride (i.e. the WHOLE church).

What Opportunities Would You Say The Vineyard Has Now?

“I think the opportunity here is, will the Vineyard rediscover its roots without feeling it necessary to relive its past? I think the roots of the Vineyard are birthed in a passion for the kingdom of God, church planting and evangelistic engagement, and yes, societal concern. And I think many would say that focus has been diminished and might have a desire to go back to the glory days…. So the underlying principles that made the Vineyard an explosive movement could be rediscovered, but perhaps some of the methodological practices would not be as helpful in the future.”

I think these comments by Ed are interesting to say the least. They seem to echo the words of warning given to the Vineyard years ago from Bill Jackson in his 1999 book “The Search for the Radical Middle” and Bert Waggoner in his address at the 2008 Northwest Leaders Gathering. The warning primarily being that we are to continue to follow Jesus wherever he takes us while being careful not to fall into a cycle of routine (i.e. “we do this because it’s what Vineyards do” vs “we do this because it is what God is doing at this time and place.”).

Continue reading Church Planting: An Interview With Ed Stetzer

When God Talks Back

National Public Radio (NPR) “Fresh Air” program just ran an interview with anthropologist T.M. Luhrmann about her new book “When God Talks Back.”

The cool thing about this is that the book is based upon Luhrmann’s research at various Vineyard Christian Fellowship churches on folks personal relationship with God and how this relationship is cemented through prayer.

I highly recommend everyone listen to this interview as it the study has some awesome ramification for the church in general. Note that there are some squirming comment in the talk as both the interviewer, Terry Gross, and Luhrmann have a different worldview then followers of Jesus (“squirming” in that they ask some good questions that sometimes we tend to overlook..) 😛

Regardless, I personally cannot wait to get a hold of her book so I can drill into things a bit more. 😀

I should also mention that I had the pleasure of hearing part of this study at 2011 Society of Vineyard Scholars conference where Luhrmann was a keynote speaker….

2012 Society of Vineyard Scholars Annual Conference

SVS Vineyard USA Logo

The 2012 Society of Vineyard Scholars (SVS) Annual Conference is coming up next month, April 26-28th. The focus this year is going to be on “The Kingdom And Ecclesiology: Learning From, Learning With, Learning As The Church.”

While I will not be able to attend this year due to scheduling conflicts, I am really excited about the topics to be presented and cannot wait for the papers to be released!!! 😀

If you are wondering what topics/papers/workshops have me excited, well keep on reading as I have listed out the ones that caught my eye. 😛

The full 2012 SVS schedule can be found here.

Thinking Theologoically About “Blue Ocean” Papers

  • Towards a Post-Foundationalist Theology of the Kingdom: A Proposal for Blue Ocean Churches” by Doug Erickson, Marquette University, Duluth Vineyard, MN
  • Centered Set Sexuality: Can We Navigate the Sexual Challenges of Our Time by Turning to Jesus?” by Peter Benedict, River Heights Vineyard, MN

Ontology and Ecclesiology Papers

  • “Rereading Radical Orthodoxy: A Vineyard Perspective on Semantics, Ontology, and Participation” by Bethany Joy Floch, University of Notre Dame, Mishawake Vineyard, IN
  • The People of God and the Narrative of the Good: A Narrative Ecclesiology of Virtue For Those Who Belong Imperfectly” by Brian Hohmeier, Fuller Theological Seminary, Oasis, Pasadena, CA

Exegeting Vineyard Practices Papers

  • “Healing on the Streets” by Katie Stum, International Council of Christians and Jews
  • Developing a Radical Middle Ecclesiology of Baptism” by Liz Miller, Fuller Theological Seminary, Palo Alto Vinyeard, CA
  • Towards a Centered-Set Ecclesiology: Is Church Discipline Appropriate?” by Luke Geraty, Trinity Christian Fellowship, Stanley, WI

Inclusion and Difference in Reconciling Communities Papers

  • “’Everybody Gets to Play’: The Ecclesiological Genius of John Wimber” by Harvey Kwiyani, Luther Seminary, St. Paul Vineyard
  • A Return to the Inclusive Community of God: Assessing James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power” by Chris Smyre, University of Chicago, Hyde Park Vineyard, IL
  • “’I Became Proud of Being Gay and Proud of Being Christian’: A Social Worker’s Study of the Experiences of Queer Women in Christian Churches” by Rachel Murr, St. Catherine University, Mercy Vineyard, MN

Continue reading 2012 Society of Vineyard Scholars Annual Conference

The Kingdom in Columbus (Ohio)

Christianity Today recently published an article about the Vineyard Columbus’ (VC) heart to love people of all ethnicity and backgrounds:

“…(senior pastor Rich Nathan) has pushed to make sure VC’s ethnic makeup matches that of Columbus: currently 64 percent white, 28 percent African American, and 4 percent Latino. Since 2001, VC has gone from 10 percent to 28 percent non-majority persons, and each Sunday attracts people from 44 of Ohio’s 88 counties.

“There’s been a serious tipping point,” says Andy Saperstein, VC’s small groups pastor, noting that for over a decade now the church has prioritized reaching international communities and modeling racial diversity. Pastor (Bill) Christensen says outreach to African Americans began in 2000, and to immigrants and refugees in 2006. Now people from 104 of the world’s 196 nations attend weekend services, whose total attendance tops 9,000.”

The cool part about the article was the recognition of the tensions that exists whenever two or more cultures overlap:

“Is there tension? Absolutely,” says Christensen. “What do you do when a subcommittee has a highly organized American, a very organized Kenyan woman, and a Hispanic woman from Colombia who says, ‘I want to make sure we just feel really loose and let this thing happen’?”

A lot of times churches tend to either ignore these culture tensions or, sadly more common, force those of the minority culture to either leave or conform to the majority. From what I can tell (having never visited the church personally), it seems that the VC is doing what it can to try to blend multiple cultures and ethnic groups into one body of Christ.

Continue reading The Kingdom in Columbus (Ohio)

The Irreducibility of the Communal Narrative

Last week I mentioned James K.A. Smith’s keynote talk at the Society of Vineyard Scholars conference…well, my friend and fellow church planter, Steve Schenk, has been posting some very interesting thoughts and conclusions based upon this talk.

To help stimulate some interest in this topic, I have posted a few sample statements from Steve’s blog, “Damascus”, below with corresponding links to that post.  Please give them a read and then navigate over to the full posts for further conversations.

The Irreducibility of the Communal Narrative, Pt 1

“When we understand someone’s personal story, or the story of how a particular event unfolded in someone’s life, or even the story of a historical period or people, we are gaining knowledge that can only be gained by learning the story.”

The Irreducibility of the Communal Narrative, Pt 2

“The gospel story is itself irreducible to propositions, but even more so, it is irreducible to merely a story.  In order for the gospel to be fully communicated, a community is required. ”

The Irreducibility of the Communal Narrative, Pt 3

“What we do is important because God wants us to act a certain way, but it is just as important because of what it says about God’s Kingdom

Seattle: A Photo Journey

My recent journey to the Society of Vineyard Scholars conference was also my first time visiting Seattle, Washington. Flying from Boise, I arrived a few hours before the conference started, so Roy Conwell, a great friend and the pastor of the Mountain Vineyard in Kent, WA, volunteered to show me around the city. The below pictures are from this quick tour.

Metro Seattle: Home to 3.4 million people
Looking West across the Puget Sound at the Olympic Mountains

Continue reading Seattle: A Photo Journey

Kingdom Theology from an African Perspective

One of the best papers at the Society of Vineyard Scholars meeting last week was given by Harvey Kwiyani, the pastor of the Saint Paul Vineyard (St. Paul, MN).

Harvey is the son of a rural pastor in Malawi, Africa, who spent seven years as a missionary in Europe before coming to Luther Seminary for a PhD in Congregational Mission and Leadership.

The main thrust of his paper was that we need to start allowing our brothers and sisters in the global south to influence the way we approach theology and how we live our lives. For way too long, we – Christians in the West – have been self-focused, assuming that we have the best approaches to Christianity.

Today, however, this ethnocentric view is being challenged on many fronts. Just look at how the Anglican bishops from Africa and South America called the wayward bishops in American and Europe to task for breaking with the Scriptures.

I, for one, welcome this shift in thinking as I am deeply indebted to my brothers and sisters in Central and South America. They have blessed me and challenged me in so many ways – molding me into who I am.

Like the African proverb quoted by Harvey last week:

“I need you to be me and you need me to be you.”

Now to locate some English language books written by pastors and/or theologians from the global South…..  😕


Last night I was approached by a couple in the church asking if we could start giving testimonies ever week. Unknown to them, this concept of testimonies or storytelling has been a crucial concept in the marketplace of ideas within Christianity over the last few years.

Proponents are claiming that the church needs to move from a systematic faith based upon doctrines and logic to a faith rooted in community and brought together by stories. This concept was promoted throughout the Society of Vineyard Scholars (SVS) conference last week – both in individual conversations and in the papers presented (most notably, James K.A. Smith’s keynote address).

Having just returned from the SVS conference, the conversation last night sparked an interesting realization:

It seems that the proponents of this narrative epistemology shift seem to be those who are engaging the post-modern culture around us. Opponents, on the other hand, tend to be more modern in their worldview.

Meanwhile, the couple in my church probably have a more premodern worldview as they come from a Pentecostal background (Pentecostalism as a whole never did ‘buy’ into the modernism worldview – click here for additional thoughts along this line)

It just goes to show that ‘new’ is a relative term depending on where one starts. What is ‘new’ for someone in mainline Protestantism or Evangelicalism may not be ‘new’ for someone in Pentecostalism. And vice versa – mainline Protestantism and/or Evangelicalism has things that are ‘new’ to Pentecostals.

This is why we need to full body of Christ – i.e. no one group has the corner on God.