Monday, February 24, 2014

New Training Initiative for Vineyard Canada!

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

The reality that the mercy of God is new every morning confirms that we are benefactors of the unbelievable love of God. It also reveals that every morning is the dawn of a new opportunity to know our King. It is with this exciting reality that we introduce Vineyard Institute Canada.

What is Vineyard Institute?

Vineyard Institute (V.I.) is an educational provider for the Vineyard movement, formed to develop leaders at all levels of church life through high quality theological training.
If you are leading in a Vineyard church, or in the early stages of your leadership development, and are interested in developing your theological, biblical and leadership theory and practical application, then V.I. is for you.

To get a great feel for V.I. around the world I encourage you to visit the Vineyard Institute website.

How does it work?
V. I. seeks to provide student-to-student and student-to-mentor interactions.  Students are grouped into 3-5 student groupings called Learning Communities (LC). Where possible, this is done geographically at a site (church or physical location), but it can also be done virtually (online) as well.  Each LC is led by a mentor, who engages the students in dialogue about the courses they’re taking and assists them in getting their written assignments completed. 
When LCs are hosted at a local church, the site pastor is invited to collaborate with V.I. to shape both the curriculum and ministry mentoring opportunities around their particular church and community.

Students of V.I. can expect to spend (on average) about 4 to 5 hours a week reading, writing, collaborating, and studying for exams.  It is important to note that though you will spend some time interacting with other students and mentors, much of the content can be worked around your schedule, taking advantage of times when you’re available.  The visual/audio content of the class can typically be taken in online during 30-45 minute bites over 10 weeks.

So What's our Time frame?

The easiest way for us to learn V.I. is to take it for a test drive. So we are going to be rolling out V.I. Canada in two phases.

Phase One: Soft Launch

We are looking at recruiting up to 10 students to begin V.I. Canada starting March 31st, 2014. Where possible I would encourage pastors/leaders to take the course along with the students. It will help you get a better feel for the material, expectations, and ways in which the course can connect in your local church setting.

Courses (Spring 2014)

Students would have the option of taking one or both of the following V.I. core courses:
Cost of each course: $140 USD

At the end of the Spring session we will gather feedback from students and their local church leaders/mentors to help us build on that for the Fall. Most importantly it gives us a chance to work out the bugs before we reach the full launch in the Fall 2014.

Key Dates in Phase One:
  • March 10th, 2014 - Course Registration deadline
  • March 31st, 2014 - Spring 2014 session begins

Phase Two: Hard Launch

In May of this year we will be begin the push to promote V.I. Canada nationally. The V.I. Canada website will be added to the V.I. international page with connections to Vineyard Canada's website.

In Fall 2014 we will be offering certificates (For example, see V. I. USA) that allow students to focus their training in specific areas of ministry training.

Key Dates in Phase Two:
  • May 2014 - V.I. promotional campaign begins
  • July 2014 - V.I. Canada introduced at National Celebration
  • August 2014 - V.I. Canada webinar for leaders/students
  • September 2014 - V.I. Canada begins first Fall session
     
Phase Three: On the Horizon
Here are some exciting things we're working on that you can be praying about:
  • Most (if not all) of Vineyard Canada Church communities are deeply engaged in social justice issues in their own backyard. It is for this reason we are looking to develop curriculum that is uniquely centered on framing a context for Biblical social justice.  Once this course is complete, this curriculum would be available to Vineyard Institute students from around the world through the V.I. website!
  • Local churches: One of the most important elements of V.I. is praxis. All of the V.I. Canada students are required to be engaged in local church ministry. This means they will be mentored with local church pastors or leaders while they work out their ministry craft. If you are a pastor or leader, consider how you can be involved in this process. Also, begin to investigate if your church would like to establish a learning community at your site.  This adds a potentially very exciting new element to leadership training within the local church community.
  • Developing Young Leaders: As a movement we are committed to developing young leaders to further the Kingdom of God. Continue to pray for more church planters, pastors, teachers, missionaries, and more.
Introductions...
A little bit about me...
I've been married to my much cooler wife Melissa for 12 incredible years.  After some adventures overseas during our first few years of marriage, we ended up in Kitchener, ON to pursue further education.  Over the next several years we both worked away part-time on degrees.  I finished my Masters of Theological Studies through McMaster School of Divinity in Hamilton and Melissa completed two post-graduate degrees in Social Work - first her BSW through the University of Waterloo and then her MSW through Laurier University.  During these years of study (and some work in there to keep us fed), our family also grew!  In 2008 we welcomed our first two children (Emebet and Tarikua) into our family through the incredible gift of adoption, and our third child (Eli) made his entrance into the world in 2012.

In the fall of 2012 we came on staff with Ahren and Anna Summach at Ottawa Valley Vineyard in Carleton Place Ontario (near Ottawa) as Community Life Pastors. We feel so blessed to be serving this community, as well as joining the broader Vineyard family!

I'm so excited to be a part of the first steps of V. I. Canada. As someone who values developing and growing leadersI appreciate how V. I. Canada provides local practical training alongside a global Vineyard framework.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.

Jeremy Burke
Administrator
Vineyard Institute Canada

Email: jeremy @ ovv.ca[remove the spaces]

Monday, February 3, 2014

measurements

Image from tothministries.org
A few days ago I was reading Ezekiel and came to chapter 40 which begins a precise description of the construction of what is known as the Third Temple (the first two were destroyed by the Babylonians and the Romans). Like many others before me, I have read these lists of measurements and wondered what inspiration and wisdom I can draw from them. I am not in the construction business so there seems to be no obvious practical application. However, there is a lot to glean from these chapters which itemize detailed dimensions of walls, courtyards, and porches. One of the clues to the richness of the temple instructions can be found in chapter 43.

Here we read: "Son of man, tell the people of Israel all about the Temple so they'll be dismayed by their wayward lives. Get them to go over the layout. That will bring them up short. Show them the whole plan of the Temple, its ins and outs, the proportions, the regulations, and the laws. Draw a picture so they can see the design and meaning and live by its design and intent. This is the law of the Temple: As it radiates from the top of the mountain, everything around it becomes holy ground. Yes, this is the law, the meaning, of the Temple." (Ezekiel 43:10-12, The Message).

Eugene Peterson's interpretation draws attention to a key element which can sometimes get lost in all the measuring: this temple complex is to radiate the glory of God. When we keep this is mind, it is not difficult to find several insights from the architectural instructions. Here are a few that I discovered. Perhaps you can find others.

Big Picture: The temple is to be seen as a whole because its meaning and intent become clearer when one takes a step back and looks at the complete design. The temple radiates the glory of God and is meant to draw people in, to call them to meet with God. The temple represents an invitation to partake in divine holiness for everything that God touches becomes holy. The mountain is holy, the ground is holy, the temple is holy, the people who enter into it become holy, all because they come into contact with God. "Come, be my holy people," calls the God of the temple. "Come, shine with my radiance, be cleansed by my righteousness, participate in my holiness," calls the architect of salvation.

Transformation: One of the intended results of looking at the construction of the temple is repentance. This means that when we gaze at it, ponder it, or walk into it, we are experiencing something which reflects the holiness of God. As a result, we realize our lack of righteousness, our lack of love, our lack of healthy relationships, and our lack of a cohesive life. That's a good thing. The temple confronts us with the presence of God and shows us where we need to be transformed.
 
Value of Life: The presence of animal sacrifice tells us a few things. First, life is valuable to God. The spilling of blood in the temple was never done lightly; these sacrifices reflected the damaging effects of rejecting God by not living a loving and generous life. Life bleeds every time we sin. It was a merciful gesture on God's part to illustrate the great cost of pride, hatred, greed, jealousy, and lust through the blood of animals instead of letting the lifeblood drain completely out of humanity. In a world where people were bent on destroying each other, the temple stood as a reminder that life is costly, life is valuable, and most importantly, life can be redeemed. A second observation is found in a cultural contrast. One must remember that the directives and actions of God recorded in the Hebrew Bible were often meant to differentiate Yahweh from the pagan deities worshiped in the culture at the time. In contrast to human sacrifices which were present in some of the other religions, Yahweh never demanded it (see the story of Abraham and Isaac as a prime example of this). The temple tells us that God values life and protects it.

Precision: Take a look around you. Perhaps you see trees, sky, and flowers. If you are in a wintery climate like myself, take in the snow-covered ground and wispy clouds. If you are inside, cast a glance at the dog chewing on your furniture or the cat lying on your bed or the fly crawling on your window. Each of these confirms that the Creator of the universe is meticulous and precise. The largest bodies (planets) as well as the smallest ones (microbes) contain astonishing wonders that we are still discovering. The temple reflects some of this same precision and attention to detail: in creation, not one thing is wasted. We see example after example of a perfect marriage between functionality and beauty. One major difference, however, is that the temple was to be a cooperative creation between God and humans. We were to have a hand in creating a holy place, a beautiful place, a place where God and his creation unite in harmony and love. How cool is that?

So when the nitty, gritty details of life seem to bog you down, when you wonder why the small things take up so much of your time when they matter so little in the grand scheme of things, when you are knee-deep in measurements, number-crunching, or cutting an extra millimeter off that piece of wood to make it fit, remember the temple. And rejoice in the minutiae.