15th Anniversary & Sr. Pastor Installation Service
15th Anniversary & Sr. Pastor Installation Service
Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor • May 22, 2016 • Jim Pool, Pastor of Renaissance Vineyard
Today is a day of celebration. Double celebration, in fact. The 15th anniversary of the A2V and the installation of a new senior pastor, Donnell Wyche. Both of these are cause for great celebration and I am humbled and honored to be invited to play a part in the festivities.
Today is a day for both remembering what’s past and looking at what’s ahead. We remember where we've come from and eagerly look ahead with anticipation for where God is taking us.
Did you know the bible is full of things to say about remembering and looking ahead? We remember where we've come from so that we stay grounded, as a way of staying faithful, in order to be encouraged that the God who has been with us in the past will also be with us in the days to come. Ours is a rooted faith. And yet it's never only stuck in the past. We live into a way of life that looks to the future. We follow a leader who presses ahead, engaging new communities, reaching new people, empowering new generations and new cultures, with eyes fixed on the future kingdom that is even now breaking into our present to meet us.
You are a great church. You take seriously life with Jesus and authentic spirituality. You reach out in love to your city and the world - homeless, single moms, kids center, India and Russia. Cloud 9 and youth. Faith and science. Creation care. You're making a difference in the lives of so many people and a whole community.
And you've got a good future. It might be trite to say it, but the best is yet to come.
To help us consider how we can faithfully walk forward in following Jesus into the bright future God is bringing, let us remember a story from the bible, as a way to consider how we may keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we follow him.
The story I have in mind is of David and Goliath. This might be a familiar story to some of us. Tell the basic contours of the story … 1 Samuel 17:20-50
I’d like to highlight three lessons for you, Donnell, and for the church, as you celebrate your 15th anniversary and your installation as the new senior pastor.
- The challenges you've already overcome will be the foundation of overcoming the challenges you face now and in the days ahead.
32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”
33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”
34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you.”
- Donnell, this has been true in your life. Throughout your life. You’ve overcome challenges as a young man in DC. You’ve overcome challenges in the corporate world. You’ve overcome challenges as an assistant and then executive pastor. You’ve worked tirelessly for the Vineyard Children’s Center, for this building and all the ministries it houses, for the finances and staff. You’ve even started new companies.
- This is true as a church too - building journey (tell the story of the skate club pic and my interview in Cutting Edge?), single moms, homeless etc. You are working hard as a church to bring compassion and justice to your community. You are laboring and striving to be a diverse community where every tribe and tongue and people and nation has a door opened to them so that they can draw close to Jesus and enter his kingdom.
- Here’s news you probably already know: bigger challenges await you, Donnell, and this church.
- "You can't slay a giant until you've killed a lion and a bear." – Don Milton
- Slaying the giant opened the door for the future of God's people to be free, to move forward in God's desires for them
- Be yourself
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, chose five smooth stones from the stream, put them in the pouch of his shepherd’s bag and, with his sling in his hand, approached the Philistine.
- Probably most of us have heard the bit about Saul’s armor. You’ve got to be yourself.
- It might be tempting to hear in this some kind of indictment of Ken; not so. In fact, it was David who set for us the example - when Saul passed on, David was deeply committed to honoring Saul. Honoring outgoing leadership is key to our successful leadership. It sets a pattern in our heart and in the life of the community. I'm very encouraged to report that I've experienced this same heart in Donnell. I encourage us all to follow his lead.
- Be yourself. Put to use the unique blend of personality, temperament, life experiences, passions, skills and gifts that is you, Donnell, in tackling the problems and overcoming the obstacles and celebrating the victories you will face. You’re already beginning to do this … you’ve made pulled pork sandwiches for the whole church at your own installation service! ☺
- I don’t need to tell you all twice – you live in a special city and this is a special church. You have a deep passion to make space for those who might feel far from God and make space for them to enter into the story and life of Jesus for themselves; to express that life of the Kingdom in tangible acts of blessing and friendship to the city and its people – all it’s people of every generation. To labor for the kingdom to come now while humbly recognizing that it is not fully yet. These are some of the best qualities of the Vineyard and you live them out in your own Ann Arbor way.
- There will be pressures to blindly follow the lead of some best-seller leader. Some will come to you and try to pressure you into some mold of their expectation. Yes, always learn and be open to grow. And build on the foundation of the past as you step forward into the future.
- Fight in the name of the Lord
26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”
28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.” ….
41 Meanwhile, the Philistine, with his shield bearer in front of him, kept coming closer to David. 42 He looked David over and saw that he was little more than a boy, glowing with health and handsome, and he despised him. 43 He said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 “Come here,” he said, “and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals!”
45 David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”
48 As the Philistine moved closer to attack him, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet him. 49 Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.
50 So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him.
- As we seek to follow God and his ways, there will be misunderstanding, even from those close to us. David’s brother believed the worst about him. He misunderstood David’s heart, David’s intention. As you seek to follow God’s leadership and give leadership to this church, as we seek to follow God’s leadership in our lives, trying our best to honor God, we will be misunderstood. As David discovered, it isn’t worth it to try to defend yourself. Rather, trust God to defend you and keep your eyes and your heart fixed on God.
- David didn’t seek a position or title. He was aware of the possible benefit from victory over Goliath, yet that didn’t seem to be his primary motivation. The thing he keeps mentioning is the honor of God’s name. David was seeking to be faithful to God and his cause.
- And, like David, we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. To that end, let us now transition to prayer. We will pray, inviting the presence and power of God, to fill Donnell (and his family?) as he formally takes on this new role. Symbolically and truly this will be an opportunity for the spiritual reality that is behind this day to come to be made manifest in our midst and in Donnell’s life and the life of this church.