Lean into Prayer

Vineyard Canada, Nov 12, 2020, 3:02 AM
Vineyard Canada Global Moderator
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Well, we are just past the half-way mark in our national communal fast. We thought it would be an appropriate time to lean into the Common Prayer that we have been using as Vineyard leadership over the last several years. There also is a version of it in our "Why Vineyard?" material that is designed for broader usage. Let's be praying this together over the next several days.

Father – we are Your children. As we lead in Your kingdom and serve the Vineyard Community, may we never lose the wonder and simplicity of child-like trust. Heal us of the distortions of the soul we carry from dysfunction, abandonment and abuse in our earthly families and grace us with a renewed vision of family so we may see who You are and what You do that we may obey.

Jesus – we follow You. Head of the "C"hurch and the only hope for the Vineyard Community. Be our centre. Be our model. May we reflect You, as You reflect the God- Head, in all areas of dialogue, spiritual rhythms and strategy that we undertake together. We open our hands, our minds and our wills to Your transformational presence – Christ in us.

Spirit – we need You. Awaken our spirits, that we may cry, "Abba-Father". Reveal the Son to us that we may behold His beauty and become like Him. We surrender to Your wisdom. We attune ourselves to Your voice of reason and righteousness that we may do the will of the Father and engage in the words and works of the Son. Equip us to serve the Vineyard Communities. Empower us to lead with grace and humility. Employ us that we may love the whole "C"hurch, deliver the captives and disciple the communities under our care.

In a movement such as ours that is leery of institution and that is non-hierarchical and centered-set, the process of discernment is quite challenging. Throw into the mix our deep theological and ecclesiological conviction to be a Community that "seeks kingdom justice first" and is relationally based, not only in structure - but in the way we understand and respond to authority, the place and use of power and leadership - we have a formidable task in coming to common ground. No wonder the early disciples chose Judas' replacement, Matthias, by the casting of lots.

As Stanley Hauerwas says, "What kind of community do you have to be that you can choose your leadership by lot? Whether you've done it officially by lot, that's the way it turns out!" He also says, "Think of the church. What's remarkable is that there is one. I just find that remarkable. That's the Holy Spirit for sure. I have often been identified as someone who is very critical of the institutions of which I'm part. I oftentimes am, but that's a lovers' quarrel. I'm, I hope, a very institutional person." Stanley captures our conundrum and viewpoint well.

Hence, our lean into the place of prayer, and our utter dependence on the leading and work of the Holy Spirit. We exist in organizational tension.

Let me quote Hauerwas further, "Leadership" is a term that's in play: We can use it and subvert it. I don't have any intrinsic difficulty about the language of leadership, though I think many of the proposals about leadership are quite perverse. These can give the impression that you know what leadership is abstracted from communities that make leadership possible. I'm sure that you must discuss these matters because it is about power. Power is rightly one of the gifts God has given us for the formation of good communities and good people. The way you put the question presupposes that you might have an alternative. You don't. You have to discuss questions of how you discover those among you with gifts necessary for the whole community.

And a little more, I do think that people called to administrative positions have to undergo a deep ascetical discipline. You're dealing with people who have possibilities and limits, the limits sometimes will drive you crazy, and you cannot take it personally.

You do this to provide space for the different gifts of the community. I'm very Pauline in this. Communities have diversities of gifts. Part of your responsibility as an administrator and leader is to help members of the community own them as contributing to the overall good of the community. To be in a position of power means that you recognize how fragile the power is. You wouldn't have it otherwise. And you have enough confidence that you don't have to win all the time. That's a real ascetic discipline, a discipline of the ego, that is absolutely crucial for being an administrator and to allow the institution to go on once you're no longer there.

But why is it that some are set aside to do for the church what only the whole church can do? What does that mean for their own self-understanding? They've been set aside to do that. The Christological notions of such servanthood are fundamental. The problem with servanthood language is it can be such a passive/aggressive form of manipulation. Some people get very good at that exactly because they don't want to say, "We need to do this."

Our end game in it all is to discover what Vineyard Canada's "yes" to Jesus looks like in this moment. We are at a juncture where some of us need to state, "we need to do this." In obeying Christ then, how do we serve one another? What is the best way forward that allows for all to respond to the Spirits leading without killing each other in the process?

As we've experienced, this involves input. Patience. Listening. Learning. And trust. Trust that those who carry leadership nationally are giving articulation, as best as they can, to how we believe the Spirit is leading us. Having said that, according to our values and posture, this will not be something that is to be mandated from the "top down." Everyone – individuals, our local communities, each region – will need to discern their own "yes" to the Lord in response to where we land. This is not a "line in the sand", but rather giving clarity as to how, at this juncture, Vineyard Canada is pastoring and discipling those who are Queer within our churches, and how we are engaging missionally and compassionately with the Queer Community at large.

The bottom line: politics is people. For any person that wants to be in leadership, if they try to lead in a way that means they don't have to deal with people, they automatically defeat community. It is everyday interactions that make it possible for there to be people who tell the truth to us one at a time in the hopes that in that process we will be a truthful community.

So – here on Day 12 – let's take the next several days to be praying about trust. Trust that the Lord has truly been with us each step of the way, even in our missteps and mistakes. Trust in each other. And, may we humbly ask for your prayers on our behalf as well – trust in the current National Team. Trust that we are taking seriously, and seeing, the pitfalls of institutional power. Trust that we are circumspectly leading. And, where we are not, pray that the Spirit would reveal it and grant grace to repent. Pray that barriers to trust would be removed across our national family. Pray for courage to pursue whatever lingering questions there may be regarding our process and current cross-roads would be aired and heard. Pray that we will be at peace and that truth will win the day whatever the path looks like from here.

One more Hauerwas quote about leadership and community,

Don't lie. It's just very simple. Don't lie to me. You may oftentimes not know what the truth is. Tell me that. Just don't lie to me. It kills you, it kills me and it kills the community.Just don't lie to me. There is nothing more important than that. We want to be the kind of community that doesn't want to be lied to. Well, Paul actually said it first, "Do not lie to one another" (Colossians 3:9)

Continue to send in the things that you are perceiving, feeling and hearing from the Spirit. A beautiful tapestry is taking shape as we continue to glean through all that is coming in. It is a big job. Pray for the Foundations Team as we perform this task on behalf of the movement.

Huge love and prayers to you all,

David and Anita

All excerpts are from an interview with Stanley Hauerwas conducted by Faith and Leadership - the online magazine of Leadership Education at Duke University - on December 21, 2009