I am looking for a champion
For those of us who follow rugby and football, June and July are awkward months when, Championships having been awarded, we’re left with a gnawing hunger where Match of the Day or the Rugby Club satisfied our need. A bit like the feeling when you have finished a good book or a riveting box-set. Thank goodness for cricket, eh?
Chelsea regain their position on top of the Premiership thanks to the little Portugese man. Arsenal have kept their Gallic-inspired hands on the FA Cup. Saracens continued their rise to win the Aviva Premiership with the help of an Irish Director of Rugby. Much to Ben’s delight, a Scotsman has grabbed Norwich City and propelled them into the Premiership. And an Englishman strides around Europe as the Champion of last month’s General Election.
These people are all champions, there is something they want to get done and they are willing to lead the way so that they can get their hands on the prize.
I am looking for a champion, or possibly two. But a different sort of champion. A champion with a vision to change the world – not by winning competitions but by sacrificing time and energy to make a difference in someone else’s life. One of the reasons we follow Jesus is because of the sacrifice He made to walk the road less travelled, to lead us out of darkness and into the light. And from time to time people emerge who are willing to put their hand up and take a lead in bringing hope and freedom to someone else.
They are not better Christians or anything like that – they are simply responding to a particular vision God puts on their hearts, maybe just for a season. And Leeds Vineyard is full of them. For example, the housegroup leaders, the trustees of the Vine
, Gwen and Elaine choosing to change their careers in order to run the Debt Advice Centre and the Child Contact Centre (Cyndy having set up the latter in the first place). Pete and Nomi are our champions for Mission, each member of the Leadership Group is a champion for a different area in the church. Jerry & Pauline for Healing on the Streets, Ian & Liz for the young people, Max, Molly and Hannah for making weekly worship a welcoming and prepared place.
As I take a breath, I’ve realised that if I list every one of our champions I won’t have space to say anything else. Suffice to say that there are loads! But I think another one or two are about to emerge. Is it you?
When I read our vision statement (We believe God has called us to establish a growing, regional, biblically based community of faith in Leeds. We will worship God, communicate His love and mercy to all people and commit to living out our faith in Jesus in a creative and contemporary way, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. We believe that there is good news for this generation in the Kingdom of God and we long to share that news, particularly in Leeds and the North. We aim to make, train and equip followers of Jesus to be effective in the extending of God's Kingdom, to develop leaders, to plant new churches, to contribute to the blessing of the whole church and to minister with the poor in practical ways
.) I am reminded that we are a community of faith that is into action, into Doing The Stuff. The question is what stuff should we be doing, and, just as importantly, not doing.
We spent last year (2014) calling a halt to quite a lot of the stuff we were doing, and that was hard. Particularly for champions! I now think that we need to carefully consider whether the time is right to introduce one or two new things. I don’t mean praying for the sick, telling our friends about Jesus and being good disciples at work, that’s a given for all of us. But it may be time to build another bridge into our community.
Let me share with you the sort of things I am looking for when we decide to take STEPS and build bridges:
A champion. Someone in whom God has placed enough of a conviction about the way they want to change the world that they will find some way of doing it - with or without the church’s help!
Money. If it costs money to do something I know the Lord will back up his call with resources. And He usually does that by asking His people to make a financial sacrifice and give.
People. God uses people to do his stuff. Are there other people willing to come along behind the champion and make it happen – over the long-haul?
Confirmation. Does this resonate with what God has put on our hearts: for this church, for now? It may be a good thing but is it for us and for now?
The Lord has been reminding me about that verse in Galatians 2:10
where Paul was told that, whatever else he did, he must remember the poor. Matt Button describes the poor as those who are bowed down, who are on their knees. So, finally, let me throw out some ideas that are brewing as we remember the poor. As you read through these, if any jump out for you personally, please take it to the Lord in prayer and see if he is inviting you to step forward and become a champion! If so, get your housegroup to pray with you about it and if it seems good to them and if it seems to be sticking to you, let me know!
Here we go, in no particular order (and without exhausting all the ideas!):
Leeds is seeking to build a culture of hospitality to those seeking sanctuary in our City. Would you like to be a champion to make Leeds Vineyard one of the Churches of Sanctuary within this City of Sanctuary?
The Child Contact Centre is usually needed because of a breakdown in the relationship between mother and father. A client recently emailed Elaine asking whether or not we offer a mediation service. This would be a really useful addition to the Vine but also helpful for the church.
The Headingley Mile – often turns the road in front of HMC into a frothing mass of inebriated nuns, Smurfs and drag queens. The churches in Headingley are looking into Club Angels/Street Pastors etc.
Storehouse/Foodbank – there is good provision in North Leeds for these types of ministries but should we be playing a part?
Families matter – and supporting families is a core vision of the Vine. Support for families could take many forms: a family support team providing what used to be termed a Common Assessment Framework, or addiction recovery support or parenting skills or money advice etc.
Credit unions are founded in Christian traditions and provide a liberating alternative to the nightmare of payday loans and credit sharks. They can be a lifeline to the local community.
Toddler groups are in high demand and provide an opportunity for constructive encounter and bridge-building between the church and our community. We have seen that wonderfully expressed through Belly Buttons over the last few years.
And of course there is ongoing rescue and restoration week by week through the Debt Advice Centre and the Child Contact Centre. Wouldn’t it be great if the Lord called us to double and triple what we do there?If you think you are called to be a champion, please talk to me!
What a Splash There Was
We had such a good day last Sunday baptising Erin, Rosie and Mark. There are some great photos and videos making their way through social media to our Facebook page
. These guys must be serious about their faith if they are willing to wade into such cold waters and get dunked! And the sun came out from behind the rain clouds and shone on us all afternoon!
Lifecraft from God
On Sunday we start a new teaching series based on Proverbs, “Lifecraft from God”. We would love everyone to read through Proverbs over the course of the next 8 weeks. The preachers will be posting verses from the book of Proverbs each day of the week following their Sunday – on our Facebook and Twitter accounts - I would love to think that we were all thinking on the same verses on the same day!.
You will have noticed that the new website has been launched. It is still needing a few tweaks so if you find something that doesn’t link or work very well please let firstname.lastname@example.org know.