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Discipleship at the Ann Arbor Vineyard

Barna describes discipleship as “becoming a complete and competent follower of Jesus Christ.”[1] A disciple is a learner, a servant, called to a life of discipleship that emulates the life of Christ.[2] It is about the intentional training of people who voluntarily submit to the lordship of Christ and who want to become imitators of Him in every thought, word, and deed.[3] Regan describes Jesus’ example: Jesus taught most effectively by example—by gathering disciples for meals, by welcoming sinners, and by healing those who were brought to him. He taught a way of life by challenging the status quo and by taking time away by himself for prayer of with his disciples in order to explain to them more deeply the truth that he was living an the consequence of that truth.[4]

The first step in growing faithful disciples in our postmodern context is nurturing a strong, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “What did Jesus mean to say to us? What is his will for us today? How can he help us to be good Christians in the modern world? In the last resort, what we want to know is not, what would this man, or this or that Church, have of us, but what Jesus Christ himself wants of us.”[5] Barna in describing the call of 21st century disciples makes it clear that “Discipleship is not a program. It is not a ministry. It is a lifelong commitment to a lifestyle.”[6] The vision of the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor is provide an environment which raises up and nurtures faithful disciples who commit to authentically follow Jesus, and who then in turn, “Invite People Into the Story of Jesus.”[7]

The City of Ann Arbor

The city of Ann Arbor provides a very unique context, which shapes our approach to ministry and discipleship. Ann Arbor is home to the University of Michigan, which heavily influences the culture and economy of the city. Forbes magazine ranked Ann Arbor as number one for the most educated city in America.[8] 96.5% of residents possess a high school diploma or higher, and 70.6% possess a bachelors degree or higher, (compared to the state of Michigan average of 25.9%).[9] Politically, Ann Arbor is left leaning, with 79.2% of residents having voted for President Obama in the 2012 election.[10]

The City of Ann Arbor is also multicultural. Of a population of 117,025, according to the 2010 census, 70.4% are white, 14.4% are Asian, 7.7% are black or African, 4.1% are Hispanic, 3.6% are multiracial or mixed, and 0.3% are Native American.[11] The ethnic breakdown of the congregation Vineyard Church reflects this diversity. Of 450 congregants surveyed, 68.67% identified as white, 12.67% black or African American, 10.89% multiracial, 5.33% Asian, 2.44 Hispanic and 0.51% Native American and Middle Eastern.[12] A survey of the religious climate of the city however, shows that the percentage of population affiliated with a religious congregation (including other faiths such as Judaism and Islam) is 33.42%, this puts Ann Arbor lower than the national average, which is 50.2%[13] Mercadante describes how in America, the “nones—those who do not claim any particular communal faith identity—are on the rise.”[14] She further adds that “there are more “nones” than mainline Protestants.”[15] This presents a unique and challenging mission field for the church, given the postmodern age’s approach to spirituality, and also the cultural setting.

The Ann Arbor Vineyard

The Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor is a member of the Vineyard Association of Churches. There are more than 1,500 Vineyard churches worldwide.[16] The Ann Arbor Vineyard is a growing multi-ethnic, multi-generational church that was planted in Ann Arbor in 2001. At the end of 2014, the senior pastor and a staff pastor left with a sizeable number of congregants, and planted another church. This had a deep impact on the Vineyard Church. The church is still in the process of recovering, healing, and adapting to the changes, and is currently in the process of defining the new church culture. Blevins and Maddix describe how “each local congregation possess a unique personality and history that shapes how people believe and practice their faith. This congregational identity stems from its link with one of the diverse groups of faith traditions and denominations, each of which reflects a particular aspect of the vision and mission of the church.”[17] The Vineyard Church believes in the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, and the spirituality and culture is shaped by elements from the liturgical, social justice, renewalist and evangelical faith traditions.

Jesus said, "I will draw all people to myself" John 12:32 (NIV). The Vineyard Church, follows a Centered Set approach to inclusion and belonging. In the centered set approach, the center is understood to be Jesus. Those who are “in” are not defined in relation to a boundary, but by facing and moving toward the center. A person might be quite a distance from the center, but so long as they are facing the center and moving toward it, they belong. The role of the church is to help them to continue to grow, and move toward Jesus. By the same token, a person might be close to the center, but if they are not facing the center and moving toward it, the role of the church would be to help them to reorient themselves toward Jesus. The centered set approach is in keeping with the biblical metaphor of pilgrimage: the followers of Jesus are travelers coming from many different points of origin to a common destination.[18] In order to be as welcoming as possible on Sundays, there is a “come as you are approach” which means, if one feels most comfortable in jeans and t-shirt, that is perfectly acceptable, so is dressing up.

Spiritual Formation.

Christian spiritual formation includes a focus on the inner transformation of the human person into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This transformation takes place when humans participate with God’s grace and not against it. Spiritual formation is also a communal activity. Church matters. In a church community more avenues of God’s grace are available, such as worship, shared prayer, group bible study, small groups, and Holy Communion. Spiritual formation is about being like Christ but also allowing God to make us into the unique persons he has called us to be.[19]

At the beginning of 2015, the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor employed a Pastoral Care and Spiritual Formation Coordinator, whose main role is to work alongside, and support the Lead Pastor in leading the spiritual formation and spiritual transformation of the entire congregation (staff, board, congregant), and to build a sustainable adult spiritual formation and discipleship program.

Habermas describes five universal questions that all people, both Christian and non-Christian, ask themselves throughout their lives: “Where did I come from? What is my background? Who am I? Why am I here? How do I get to where I must go?”[20] The journey of a disciple involves actively seeking, and finding the answers to these questions. The Vineyard believes that an identity deeply rooted in Christ provides a solid foundation for faithful discipleship. The goal is to draw people into an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus, which will then lead to transformation.

The Spiritual Formation Team

The Spiritual Formation team is comprised of the Lead Pastor, the Pastoral Care and Spiritual Formation Coordinator, the Spiritual Direction Ministry Director and the Welcome and Outreach Coordinator, each of who bring unique gifts and perspectives to the team. The Spiritual Formation team is intentionally working on creating an approach to spirituality, and a church culture that encourages, facilitates and nurtures transformation.[21] Effective Christian discipleship includes recognizing these stages of development in the development of educational activities that foster faith formation.[22] The developing Spiritual Formation Program is designed to welcome and support people at all stages of their faith journey; from new believers, those returning to faith, to those established in the faith.

Spiritual Support. The Vineyard Church’s Spiritual Direction Ministry, provides disciples with spiritual companions (Spiritual Directors) who will walk alongside them on their spiritual journey, helping them to become more aware of God’s presence, His activity in their daily lives, and to develop a deeper relationship with God. The Spiritual Formation webpage contains a wealth of spiritual formation resources; spiritual disciplines, prayer practices, book recommendations and other resources. The Vineyard Church also has a fully stocked Christian library, open to all with no restrictions. The Spiritual Formation team understands that one formula will not fit all disciples. Barna notes that “as intentional disciple-makers, we need to be able to evaluate where our disciples are on their spiritual journeys.”[23] He adds that “in order to do this well, we must be in relationship with them.”[24] The Spiritual Formation Coordinator is available to meet with anyone seeking spiritual guidance.

Pastoral Care. Care Ministers, Prayer Ministers, and mentors, are available to provide care to disciples during times of crisis, when in need of prayer, or guidance.

Community. An important value that needs to be supported and protected in our churches is relationship—relationship with the true God and relationship among believers. The church needs relationship, not just because it is the best way to teach but because our relationships are the evidence that what we preach is true.”[25] There are 59 verses in the New Testament that make reference to “one another”[26] including five verses found in John, and another five in 1 John each commanding us to “love one another.”[27] When the structure of a church supports a relational environment for discipleship (spiritual growth), that church is more likely to be full of people who demonstrate this kind of love Christ talked about.[28] The Vineyard Church has always had a strong small group culture, which nurtures such relationships, and is in the process of launching a number of new small groups including a women’s bible study group. The established College and twenty-somethings group, provides much needed support and guidance for college students living away from their families and the Sunday Night Intercessors group have lovingly and faithfully provided prayer support for both the leaders, and the congregation for many years.

Engagement. In order to be intentional about nurturing community, at the end of 2014 the Vineyard Church hired an Engagement Coordinator whose role is to facilitate members of the congregation as well as newcomers meeting others and making connections, as well as providing opportunities for fellowship. The church hosts a number of Community Life events throughout the year, which provide disciples with such opportunities. Three important functions of Christian formation help shape community: sharing stories of faith, nurturing intergenerational relationships, and practicing a communal lifestyle.[29]

The Community Coffee Hour has grown in popularity and attendance over the last few months as it provides an opportunity for a wide cross-section of the congregation (cross-cultural and cross-generational) to meet and get to know each other and share stories. The church has responded by increasing the frequency of these to bi-monthly.

The church Community Garden provides the perfect opportunity to work alongside others and develop relationships, as well as producing fresh vegetables, which are donated to a local food bank.

The church also hosts once monthly community lunches (Let’s do lunch). Disciples gather together after the Sunday service and go out to lunch together at a local restaurant. Blevins and Maddix describe how “faithful discipleship gives attention to intentional practices that shape and form corporate memory, develop community, and provide safe contexts for theological inquiry.”[30] A church that plays together stays together.

Newcomer Welcome. In order to provide an easy on-ramp to the life and ministry of the church, the Vineyard Church employed a Welcome Coordinator, who connects with first time visitors and helps them to feel welcomed, get connected and feel like they belong. The church is seeker-friendly and aims to provide new believers with all the support they need in order to make a lasting and sustainable commitment to the Lord, and to experience spiritual growth at a pace that works with what God is doing in their lives.

Preaching and Teaching

Putman believes that making disciples is about a great deal more than knowing the right theology, he believes that “Discipleship requires real teaching and real learning. It requires conversation, modeling, encouragement, debriefing, and practice, all of which need to happen in the context of relationship. Without relationship between believers, there is no model to follow, no authenticity, no accountability, no application, and no support for the journey.”[31]

The Vineyard Church’s approach to catechism (teaching and learning) is holistic encompassing; classes, the sermons, mentoring, spiritual practices, relationships, and worship. Blevins and Maddix describe worship as being central to congregational formation.[32] Smith describes worship as “ a uniquely intense site of the Spirit’s transformative presence.”[33] Leclerc and Maddix describe worship as ”the primary and chief occasions that form, shape, transform, and renew Christians into the image of Christ, which includes Christians being renewed together as the body of Christ.”[34] Worship confers and nurtures Christian identity. Blevins and Maddix believe that “Through preaching, prayer, and the sacraments, corporate worship provides a robust form of Christian formation.”[35]

Preaching

Given the multicultural, multigenerational, transitory, diverse denominational, educational, as well as socioeconomic background of the congregation, there is always a conscious effort made when writing each sermon, to be seeker-friendly, science and faith friendly, taking into account our ministry context, whilst at the same time preaching from a solid foundation in the Word of God. It is in scripture that we find the life that we are all seeking and searching for. The church believes the Bible to be a living Word, comprised of the God-breathed voices of many who have come before us, and trustworthy for revealing the Good and Beautiful God to us. The church believes spirituality is to be biblical because the Bible is the story of Jesus.[36] The sermons are preached by the Lead Pastor and follow a pre-planned sermon series. Each sermon has a practical tip at the end, which provides the disciples with a spiritual practice to engage during the week. These are also loaded onto a website, practicaltips.org which are available to all.

Prayer.

During each celebration there is a time for corporate prayer including; the Lord’s Prayer, the Communion prayer, and a benediction. The prayer ministry team meets before the celebration and prays for the congregation and shares any prayer senses they have. They are also available to pray with disciples during the celebration in the prayer station. The congregation is invited to fill out prayer cards with any prayer needs and the staff will pray for these during the week. In addition to this, prayer requests can be sent at any time to the prayer chain and members of staff and prayer ministers will pray over these.

Sacraments

The sacraments of baptism and communion are practiced according to the biblical teaching on these sacraments without emphasizing the doctrinal formulations that have separated Christians on these matters. The Lord’s supper is a means of grace offering healing and hope. This encounter with Christ offers the church healing and transformation. This dynamic encounter is not simply for individuals; Christians are also united again to each other as the body of Christ[37] Therefore, Communion is offered every Sunday during the celebration, and it is emphasized in the liturgy that all are welcome at the Lord’s table. The church offers baptisms quarterly. In the sacrament of baptism, the church continues to celebrate that it is God who continues to bless, heal, and sustain. Baptism is not only a celebration of a new birth for an individual but also a celebration for all the church.[38]

The Vineyard church also follows the Liturgical calendar alongside disciples in other denominational traditions.[39]

Worship music

The Vineyard church’s worship style is inclusive (one can sing along if they wish) and contemporary, a pop-rock-gospel style. In addition to Sunday morning worship, once a month the Worship Director leads a Night of Worship at the church, open to all, facilitating additional times of worship and fellowship outside of Sundays.

Teaching.

The BELONG class serves as the membership class. The READ class meets weekly throughout the year and is taught by the Lead Pastor. This serves as the main discipleship class of the church. Prayer classes are also offered; PRAY, HEAR, and HEAL, aimed at equipping disciples to heed Jesus’ call: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” Matthew 10:8 (NIV)

Pastoral Leadership.

Putnam described the qualities of a strong organizational leader as one who:

Is committed to the Lord, their families and their responsibilities. Who takes the initiative to do what is needed to accomplish the mission. Who is courageous, willing to fight rather than give up when things get hard. Who is passionate and cares deeply about the cause they have committed their lives to. Who has focus and is able to remain consistent in their direction for years. Who is humble, humility being one of the most important qualities a leader can have. Who has a team mindset; values the team and fits well on one. Who has the ability to think through systems, and can think through a process that will produce what is desired.[40]

These qualities are of high value at the Vineyard Church and are exemplified by our leadership team.

Stakeholders.

If a disciple shows signs of commitment; has been attending, serving, giving or giving faithfully and consistently for a length of time, and demonstrates spiritual maturity, they are considered stakeholders who are invested in the church. Stakeholders meetings are held monthly and provide an opportunity for the stakeholders to participate in mapping out the vision and direction of the church.

Board of Directors and Ministry Leaders

Stakeholders who have served faithfully for a length of time and who have proved their commitment to the church and its mission will be considered for positions as board members or ministry leaders, what other denominations may call the elders of the church. Barna describes spiritual parents (or elders) as “intentional, strategic, reproduction-minded, self-feeding, mission-minded, team-minded and dependable.”[41] The Board of Directors manage the church finances and also provide supervision for the Lead Pastor, and generally oversee the health and wellbeing of the church and its enterprises. Ministry leaders oversee the key ministries of the church and recruit, guide and train volunteers.

Staff

Staff appointments are typically from within the congregation. Disciples who are spiritually mature, possess a servants heart, a deep love for the church, sound theological knowledge, and demonstrating gifting in areas of need for the church may be invited to join the staff team when a position arises, either in an administrative capacity or as a Coordinator. The promotion track is Coordinator, Director and then finally Pastor. The staff team is led by the Lead Pastor and is comprised of ten other staff members including: administrative staff, pastoral staff, and youth, children’s and worship ministry directors. Continued professional development is highly valued. The staff is encouraged to seek training opportunities, books, conferences and relevant courses to further equip them in their ministry work.

Compassionate Service.

Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.” Ps 82:3.

As a church begins to embody real compassion, it is literally transformed into the loving presence of God for a hurting world.[42] The aim of the Vineyard Church is to cultivate within disciples, a Christ-centered worldview that looks to the world with compassion and care. When we know and follow Christ, we look at people differently. We don’t judge them; instead we care for them and reach out to them in love. We give Him our hands in service. Our abilities, our gifts, and our skills are all-empowered and call for the Lord’s mission to change the world.”[43] The church’s Homeless Ministry is well known in the city for consistently going out to a downtown park, every Friday night for seven years, providing meals, clothing, fellowship, and prayer. The church opens its doors to the Rotating Shelter for a week during the cold months and congregants come every night and share meals, chat, and play games with members of the homeless community. Once a month the church hosts a Sunday lunch for homeless friends at Hope Clinic. Disciples from the Vineyard have served with Habitat for Humanity, and helped build a house for a single mother and her children. Disciples also ensure the running of all the ministries within the church, making “church” possible including; Children’s ministry, the Celebration ministries (greeters, ushers, multimedia, sound), Care Ministers, Lay Chaplains, Prayer Ministers, mentors, and Spiritual Directors. Barna highlights that “Because serving people is such a crucial dimension of spiritual maturity, churches help people to grow by giving them opportunities to meet the needs of others.”[44] At the same time the church understands that “compassion is not about fixing problems or eliminating suffering. Rather, compassion is  the church responding to God’s grace by becoming the broken body of Christ for a hurting world. In this way compassion represents the very essence of what it means to be the church.”[45]

Missional Engagement.

In a town like Ann Arbor where the percentage of population affiliated with a religious congregation (including other faiths such as Judaism and Islam) sits at a low 33.42%[46] work has to be done to contextualize the gospel for a town like this. The goal of the Vineyard Church is to be the best friend the city of Ann Arbor could ever hope for. Therefore the Vineyard church is missional in its strategy, and as a response created the Mission Outpost Internship Program designed to equip disciples for ministry in our unique context.[47] A missional church is “dedicated to engaging every context, particularly local culture, with a mission-shaped heart.”[48] Missional discipleship “in its evangelism (“missions”) outreach it attempts to be sensitive to local cultures and plant culturally appropriate “missional” expressions of Christianity.”[49] Frost and Hirsch in The Shaping of Things to Come describe a missional church as “the hope of the post-Christendom era.”[50]

Outreach.

In addition to the established Homeless Ministry, the Vineyard Church is always looking for opportunities and is striving to be creative in its outreach efforts. During finals week last semester, a team gathered in the heart of the student area and gave away hundreds of free cookies and prayer to University of Michigan students. The Annual Easter Egg outreach is one of the largest in the county and attracted 500 people this year. The church also opens its doors to the public on Halloween and hosts an Annual Fall Festival as a way of blessing its neighbors.

The Mission Outpost Internship Program

The Mission Outpost Internship Program is specifically designed to formally train young disciples. It is an intensive leadership, spiritual growth, theological training, and ministry skill development experience.

Global Engagement

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19 (NIV).

Missional engagement as occurs in both local settings and across a global stage.[51] The Vineyard Church has partnered with churches in Northern India, Nizhny-Novgorod, Russia, and a missionary family in Turkey. The church hopes to seek to facilitate a loving, vibrant ministry of sharing God’s blessings with the nations, one that lavishes love on cross-cultural workers through prayer, monetary support, relationship building, and provision for other spiritual, physical, and emotional needs.

Community partners.

The church has established good working relationships with local nonprofits such as, the HIV/AIDS Resource Center, Our House, Food Gatherers, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Habitat for Humanity, and Religious Action for Affordable Housing.

Going forward

Kingdom living.

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near” Mark 1:15 (NRSV).

Kraus reminds us always to keep in mind that “Jesus spoke of the reign of God; he did not establish the religious organization we know as the church”[52] Kraus elaborates:

God’s reign is not an ethical construct, a moral program, a religious institution, or a political movement. It is God’s stirring, enabling shalom in the religious community. God’s reign is recognized where the healing, transforming effects of God’s presence are embodied in human response. This may, of course happen within the boundaries of the organized congregation, which we call church, but it is not limited to or necessarily dependent on such organizations.[53]

However, Saucy highlights that “spiritual formation is not an individual project; it is a local church project in the hands of the Spirit-kingdom.”[54] Saucy further adds that it is within communities of faith that “believers experience not just the anticipatory signs requisite to imagine the journey’s end of when Christ is formed in them. They also experience the surging kingdom power at work in them and their brothers and sisters in Christ that is daily bringing them to that glorious end.”[55] Smith reminds us that “we are called and formed to be a people of expectancy—looking for the coming (again) of the Messiah. We are a futural people who will not seek to escape the present, but will always sit somewhat uneasy in the present, haunted by the brokenness of the “now… Thus we are constituted as people who live between times, remembering and hoping at the same time”[56]

Saint Cyprian of Carthage once said: “No one can have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother.”[57] The Vineyard Church aims to provide a nurturing community of faith, that is able to transform and equip disciples that are able to live in the kingdom of God tension of here and now, but also not yet, inspired to go out and fulfill the call of the Great Commission and raise up more disciples:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV).

True Discipleship.

George Barna in Growing True Disciples identified what true discipleship looks like:

  • True discipleship produces holistic personal transformation, not mere assimilation into a community of church members.
  • True discipleship is witnessed by people who are determined to be a blessing to others—people who are never content to simply accept and enjoy God’s blessings.
  • True discipleship creates Christians who aggressively pursue spiritual growth rather than passively experience spiritual evolution.
  • True discipleship spawns individuals who develop renewed lifestyles instead of believers who mechanically check off completed assignments on a developmental agenda.
  • True discipleship results in people who are more concerned about the quality of their character than the extent of their knowledge.
  • True discipleship builds churches known for their culture of love, commitment, and service rather than for their events, information and programs.
  • True discipleship facilitates people devoted to a lifelong journey to imitate Jesus Christ rather than the completion of a short-term regiment of tasks and responsibilities.[58]

The call of a disciple, kingdom living, and the role of the church are captured perfectly by the World Council of Churches:

Discipleship needs to be in word and action. Justice and peace are some of the significant expressions of our discipleship and evangelism. We need to live out the kingdom of values and recognize that this in itself is a form of evangelism. Our lifestyle needs to communicate the good news of Christ. The integration of evangelism and peace and justice can be achieved by new emphasis on discipleship. Discipling is educating and enabling others to live that life. We need to see how we can bring together initiatives on mission, evangelism, discipleship, justice and peace, and interfaith relations rather than dividing them for the sake of job roles. Congregations should act in collaboration with the communities they are placed in, and not become strangers. Individuals should be equipped collectively both within and beyond the local churches/congregations.[59]

The Call.

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, ’The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’” Matthew 9:35-38 (NIV)

The Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor’s calling is to continue to attract, and develop and equip faithful disciples by its radical welcome, compassionate care, transformative teaching, and love and dependence on Jesus as the role model and source of all strength. The church will continue to look out to the city of Ann Arbor as a harvest field, and will release disciples ready to bless all they encounter, both by actions as the hands and feet of Jesus, and words as carriers of the Good News of the Kingdom of God.

Bibliography

Barna, George. Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine Followers of Christ. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2001.

Blevins, Dean G and Maddix, Mark A. Discovering Discipleship: Dynamics of Christian Education. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press. 1973.

Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. New York: Touchstone. 1959.

City-Data.com. Washtenaw County, Michigan (MI) Religion Statistics Profile - Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, Saline, Milan, Chelsea. Last modified 2011. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Washtenaw-County-MI.html#ixzz3YAxH09pi

Dill, Katherine. “The 10 Most and Least Educated Cities in America” Forbes. Last modified September16, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fjle45iglg/no-1-most-educated-city-ann-arbor-michigan/

Frost, Michael and Hirsch, Alan. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church. Grand Rapids: BakerBooks. 2003.

George, Carl F. Prepare your Church for the Future. Tarrytown, Revell, 1991.

Habermas, Ronald. T. Introduction to Christian Education and Formation: A Lifelong Plan for Christ-Centered Restoration. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008.

Kraus, Norman C. “From radical to missional discipleship.” Vision (Fall 2012): 6-14.

Leclerc, Diane and Maddix, Mark A. Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2011.

Putman, Jim. Real-life Discipleship. Carol Stream: NavPress. 2010.

Regan, Jane E. Forming A Community of Faith: A Guide to Success in Adult Faith Formation Today. New London: Twenty-Third Publications. 2014.

Saucy, Mark. “Regnum Spiriti: The Kingdom of God and Spiritual Formation” Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care Vol. 4, No.3 (2011) 140-154.

Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Volume 1 of Cultural Liturgies. Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic. 2009.

Stanton, Ryan J. A quick glance at how Washtenaw County voters cast their ballots in Tuesday's election. The Ann Arbor News. Posted on Thu, Nov 8, 2012. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.annarbor.com/news/a-quick-glance-at-how-washtenaw-county-voters-cast-their-ballots-in-tuesdays-election/

United States Census Bureau. “State and County QuickFacts: Ann Arbor, Michigan.” Last modified March 31, 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2603000.html

Vineyard USA. “Vineyard History.” Last modified 2012. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://www.vineyardusa.org/site/about/vineyard-history

Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. “A Centered Set Church.” Last modified 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://annarborvineyard.org/about/what-we-believe/a-centered-set-church

World Council of Churches. “Evangelism Today: New Ways for Authentic Discipleship: Report of Ecumenical Conversation on Evangelism.” International Review of Mission Volume 103, no. 1 (April 2014): 129-134.

Wyche, Donnell, Lead Pastor, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, email message to author, April 20, 2015.

 

Appendix 1. Inviting People into the Story of Jesus.[60]

Inviting:  Our dream is to offer a vision of Jesus and His Way that is accessible to those living in a progressive, urban/suburban center like Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County.  This includes removing barriers to particular cultures and subcultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, politics, economic status, etc.  This inherently includes a "come as you are" invitation to everyone and anyone.  The invitation involves a personal relationship with a living God who doesn't leave us where we are, but transforms into his likeness and image and invites us to begin living in His kingdom now.

People: Created in the image of God, every person we encounter is an experience with the Divine. As the People of God, our aim is to live as a community that reflects his beauty, mercy, and welcome to any and every person that we come into contact with. This allows us to enfold the broken, the exiled, the young, the marginalized into the the family of God. This is good news to single moms. This is good news to children and youth. This is good news to the homeless and poor.

Into: Our center is Jesus. We aim to orient and guide people of different backgrounds as well as stages of faith into a continuing journey towards Jesus. We will provide a range of supports to nurture spiritual growth and to cultivate a deeper experience of the Living God.

Story: We are living in the captivating and unfinished Story of God – a story of God pursuing his beloved children and restoring his creation. We embody this story as individuals in our respective fields of work. We embody this story as a loving community that bears the suffering, healing, and restoration won for us through Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. We bear witness that Jesus is King and partner with the Spirit to breathe new life into narratives of despair.

Jesus: Jesus is our shared treasure, the destination and path of our pilgrimage. Our spirituality is the one he forged in communion with the Father through the Holy Spirit.  Through the Spirit, Jesus offers intimacy with God to all people, and we are eager to make safe spaces for this to occur.  We believe that all of life is spiritual, and that our brokenness can be restored and made whole through Him. We celebrate God’s presence, love, and truth, pursuing lives of faith, hope, gratitude, and worship. God invites everyone everywhere into this way of life, and we believe it is the best possible way to live.

Appendix 2: The Transformation Loop.[61]

Integrating: Worship (being), Preaching (hearing), Practices (doing), Community (sharing)

Rethinking Sunday Morning. What would the weekly Sunday celebrations look like if we intentionally tied together every we do to make sure that we are creating feedback loops: worship, preaching, corporate and individual practices, and sharings that transform the congregation. I believe this will lead to growth in transformation.

Being: Worship, Stillness, Silence.

In Mark, we see over and over again that Jesus seeks time to reconnect with God. Discipleship isn’t just about our learning, it’s also about our being. Being in the presence of God. Learning to draw life from God. This happens in our worship, stillness, and silence as we sit before the Creator in silence. Our first task is to learn to be, then to be still, then to be still and silence before the Creator. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). Silence is God’s first language. Our first experience of love is silence.

Hearing: Scripture, Preaching & Teaching

Each week we will preach from the Word of God. Because in the scripture we find the life that we are all seeking and searching for. The Bible is a living Word, comprised of the God-breathed voices of many who have come before us, and trustworthy for revealing the Good and Beautiful God to us. Our spirituality is to be biblical because the Bible is the story of Jesus. We affirm the central truths of the historic Christian faith as expressed in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds, seeing ourselves in a long line of generations taking part in the endless conversation between God and people.

Doing: Ministries, Practices, Orthopraxy

“How a person lives is more important than what he or she believes.” -SM

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:26

Our orthopraxy reflects what we say we believe–it’s our “right living.” The on-going evidence that what we believe has been internalized and affects how we behave, this all follows our surrender, trust, and transformation in Christ. We live the way we do because we believe that Jesus has the best path to life, so we will follow him and trust him in all things including how we act, behave, and serve. Our beliefs lead to behaviors, behaviors create habits, and habits shape our character.

Sharing: Community, Groups, Social

We share our lives with others, this is the best way to live life–together with others.

As Jesus entered history, he introduced a new type of tribe, one that doesn’t recognize accomplishment, achievement, race, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status as reasons of inclusion (or exclusion for that matter). He gathers together a witnessing community centered around himself, and his work on the cross. We call this new tribe the church.

In community, we are better able to resist sin and also find forgiveness for our sins.

 


[1] Barna, George. Growing True Disciples: New Strategies for Producing Genuine Followers of Christ. (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2001), 17.

[2] Blevins, Dean G and Maddix, Mark A. Discovering Discipleship: Dynamics of Christian Education. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press. 1973), 19.

[3] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 17-18.

[4] Regan, Jane E. Forming A Community of Faith: A Guide to Success in Adult Faith Formation Today. (New London: Twenty-Third Publications, 2014), 4.

[5] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. (New York: Touchstone, 1959), 35.

[6] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 19.

[7] See Appendix 1.

[8] Dill, Katherine. “The 10 Most and Least Educated Cities in America” Forbes. Last modified September16, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2015.

http://www.forbes.com/pictures/fjle45iglg/no-1-most-educated-city-ann-arbor-michigan/

[9] United States Census Bureau. “State and County QuickFacts: Ann Arbor, Michigan.” Last modified March 31, 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015.

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2603000.html

[10] Stanton, Ryan J. A quick glance at how Washtenaw County voters cast their ballots in Tuesday's election. The Ann Arbor News. Posted on Thu, Nov 8, 2012. Accessed April 23, 2015.

http://www.annarbor.com/news/a-quick-glance-at-how-washtenaw-county-voters-cast-their-ballots-in-tuesdays-election/

[11] United States Census Bureau. “State and County QuickFacts: Ann Arbor, Michigan.” Last modified March 31, 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015.

http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/26/2603000.html

[12] Wyche, Donnell, Lead Pastor, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, email message to author, April 20, 2015.

[13] http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Washtenaw-County-MI.html

[14] Mercadante, Linda A. Belief without Borders: Inside the Minds of the Spiritual but not Religious. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), 1.

[15] Mercadante, Belief without Borders, 2.

[16] Vineyard USA. “Vineyard History.” Last modified 2012. Accessed April 23, 2015.

http://www.vineyardusa.org/site/about/vineyard-history

[17] Blevins, Dean G and Maddix, Mark A. Discovering Discipleship: Dynamics of Christian Education. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press. 1973), 182.

[18] Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. “A Centered Set Church.” Last modified 2015. Accessed April 23, 2015. http://annarborvineyard.org/about/what-we-believe/a-centered-set-church

[19] Maddix, Mark A. , “Living the Life: Spiritual Formation Defined” In Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm, eds. Leclerc, Diane and Maddix, Mark A. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2011), 16.

Leclerc, Diane and Maddix, Mark A. Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2011), 16.

[20] Habermas, Ronald. T. Introduction to Christian Education and Formation: A Lifelong Plan for Christ-Centered Restoration. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008), 49.

[21] See Appendix 2.

[22] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 143.

[23] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 40.

[24] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 40.

[25] Putnam, Real-life Disciples, 50.

[26] George, Carl F. Prepare your Church for the Future. (Tarrytown, Revell, 1991), 129-131.

[27] John 13:34, 13:34, 13:35, 15:12, 15:17, 1 John 3:11, 3:23, 4:7, 4:11, 4:12.

[28] Putnam, Real-life Disciples, 51.

[29] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 182-183.

[30] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 191.

[31] Putman, Jim. Real-life Discipleship. (Carol Streams: NavPress, 2010), 22.

[32] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 186.

[33] Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Volume 1 of Cultural Liturgies. (Grand Rapids: BakerAcademic, 2009), 150.

[34] Peterson, Brent D. , “Worshipping as Created: God’s Gift of Communal Worship and the Sacraments” In Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm, eds. Leclerc, Diane and Maddix, Mark A. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2011), 99.

[35] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 186.

[36] See Appendix 2.

[37] Peterson, Spiritual Formation, 102.

[38] Peterson, Brent D. , “Worshipping as Created: God’s Gift of Communal Worship and the Sacraments” In Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm, eds. Leclerc, Diane and Maddix, Mark A. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2011), 103.

[39] Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Lent, Holy week: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Seder Meal, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, Pentecost, All Saint’s day.

[40] Putnam, Real-life Disciples, 170-176.

[41] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 139.

[42] Bankard, Joe., “Displaying Genuine Compassion: Spiritually Transforming the World” In Spiritual Formation: A Wesleyan Paradigm, eds. Leclerc, Diane and Maddix, Mark A. (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 2011), 178.

[43] Putnam, Real-lfe Discipleship, 32.

[44] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 31.

[45] Bankard, Spiritual Formation, 182.

[46] http://www.city-data.com/county/religion/Washtenaw-County-MI.html

[47] http://www.missionoutpost.org

[48] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 211.

[49] Kraus, Norman C. “From Radical to Missional Discipleship.” Vision (Fall 2012):10.

[50] Frost, Michael and Hirsch, Alan. The Shaping of Things to Come: Innovation and Mission for the 21st Century Church. (Grand Rapids: BakerBooks, 2003), 33.

[51] Blevins and Maddix, Discovering Discipleship, 214.

[52] Kraus, From radical to missional discipleship.

[53] Kraus, Norman C. “From radical to missional discipleship.” Vision (Fall 2012): 11.

[54] Saucy, Mark. “Regnum Spiriti: The Kingdom of God and Spiritual Formation” Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care Vol. 4, No.3 (2011) 140-154.

[55] Saucy, Regnum Spiriti, 140-154.

[56] Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, 157-158.

[57] http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/893300-no-one-can-have-god-for-his-father-who-has

[58] Barna, Growing True Disciples, 167-168.

[59] World Council of Churches. “Evangelism Today: New Ways for Authentic Discipleship: Report of Ecumenical Conversation on Evangelism.” International Review of Mission Volume 103, no. 1 (April 2014): 129-134.

[60] Wyche, Donnell, Lead Pastor, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, email message to author, April 20, 2015.

[61] Wyche, Donnell, Lead Pastor, Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, email message to author, April 20, 2015.

 
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