This blog is the Canadian National blog so it is fitting we reflect a bit on what it means to be a Canadian Vineyard person. I'm going to pick up on something about our Canadian context that is (or should be) important to us all - diversity.
The sheer immensity that is our country presents considerable challenges to any national movement. Across this great nation of ours we are far from a homogeneous people. From the friendly Atlantic people to the trend setting West Coasters, we are an amazing collection of people. Even within our regions we possess a great diversity - and it is something that we, as Canadians, value. What an incredible freedom our diversity exhibits - but it is not without its challenges. We have to work hard to not let our differences keep us from working together. As Canadians we live in a society that is so very diverse, yet it is still united around common values like: peacemaking; taking care of the homeless, jobless, and aged; even being irenic and polite. As the Vineyard movement we also find our unity around such values as Kingdom, worship, justice and mercy. Despite the fact that not all of us see these things the same way - it is our shared desire to serve the King that unites us in all our diversity.
Diversity is a richness. It is precisely the creative design of the Father who displays endless possibilities within creation itself. Each living creature, every snowflake, and every beautiful landscape speaks of the creativity of God. From diversity we draw wisdom and insights that without embracing diversity we would never own. God, in wisdom, made us to need each other, even just to get a glimpse of how great God's glory truly is. We see God's glory reflected in the many faces of those who we serve and who serve with us. Valuing diversity prepares us to bring the gospel to our world.
At our last National Gathering I was encouraged by the passion of our leaders for discovering ways to incorporate more racial diversity into our movement. In fact I think we need to dig deep into our Pentecostal roots (via Calvary Chapel) and claim for ourselves the Pentecostal passion for tearing down the walls of racial separation. (Just as many of us have reached back into our Quaker roots to pull forward a passion for social justice.) This passion speaks, to me, of how the value of diversity shapes us. This value calls us to go beyond our comfort, that of being surrounded by people who think, look, and even act like us, and to experience new ways of looking at and being in the world. I know we find this hard, but it is a worthy goal. Canada is a mosaic of different peoples, and as Canadians our Vineyards should reflect this mosaic as well.
We, as the Vineyard, are also diverse in how we do church. I love this about our movement. I love the big churches, providing amazing centers of worship and ministry that transform our very cities. I can't help thinking about the River City Vineyard in Sarnia, having built a homeless shelter in their church building - you do not get much more hands on than that (and they are not the only ones to do something like this). I also love the alternative looking churches that are exploring what it means to reach the folks who are not attracted to more traditional church settings. To be honest, I am convinced we need both - and that both of these groups really need each other. I even long for healing to come to the rift that sometimes comes between these two amazing expressions of church. The advantage of forming a movement around Kingdom values instead of restrictive notions of what it means to be church is that we can have a diversity of expressions and reach even more people with the Good News.
I love the diversity of our movement in Canada. I love the diversity in Canada itself. Such rich opportunities - as God has even brought the world to our doorstep. As we continue to dream big God dreams - let's let the creative diversity of those dreams match the awesome greatness of our God!