An Arc Toward Sustainable Abundance

Joyce Rees, Apr 11, 2024, 2:24 PM
Joyce Rees Pastor (West region)

In the Vineyard we love to listen to the Holy Spirit. When He speaks (and we recognize His voice) we are often directed in ways we didn't anticipate. Sometimes we find comfort, clarity, or discernment for what to do next. He guides our steps, gives us hope, enables wisdom and a host of other things. This is one of the primary reasons our Canadian Vineyard family enters into ten days of prayer and fasting every January - beginning our year listening for God's voice to set our course. This year the Holy Spirit surprised me by speaking quite overtly in early January, even before our fast began.

While I was praying I saw an image that was hard to describe: a massive empty field of "structures" almost like harps stretching out from west to east. I shared this with our Foundations Team, (our core staff leadership for Vineyard Canada) and it resonated but we weren't certain of what it might mean. Then the fast happened and I heard an echo of this word in a variety of ways during our phenomenal ten days of online morning gatherings. Anita Ruis, our Spiritual Life Director, leads a small group of trusted leaders who are our Listening Team. They lean into prayer and prophetic gifts on behalf of our movement and curate what we are collectively hearing from the Holy Spirit across the country. After the fast the Listening Team gave us a well articulated summary, that included some underpinnings of this same encouragement from the Lord to build healthy structure. In the fast summary they describe,

"A flourishing vine being stretched across Canada from West to East along the border with the US. The vine structure was was being put in place so that the fruit wouldn't lie too low and rot and the vine could be maintained. The vine was in need of healthy structure to maintain the life and connection growing up between the two national families."

A couple of days after the fast ended I went to teach a group of younger pastors in Alberta. During ministry time, someone there (not a part of the Vineyard) gave me an almost identical word about "building structures across a vast field for grapevines to grow upon". The Holy Spirit really had my attention so I began to research grapevine structures - their purpose, how they are constructed, and the various differences between the types of structures Vineyards use. You'd be surprised at how many options there are and the various reasons farmers will choose a different type of structure based on a grape variety! Here's one big takeaway I gleaned from my learning about vine structures:

"...heavy vines require some form of support to produce a healthy crop. Training vines onto a trellis helps light penetrate the canopy for photosynthesis to occur; reduces opportunity for disease to develop; promotes ripening; makes vines easier to prune and harvest, especially when harvesting by hand, which can also reduce labor costs; and keeps vines out of the way of cultivation and other vineyard operations." (King Estate Winery - Trellis Systems Play More than a Supporting Role)

In mid February our National Team (FT, Catalysts, Counsel, Board, and Regional Leaders) met with John Mumford, who leads the Vineyard Global team, to talk about best practices being developed for AVC's (Associations of Vineyard Churches). He is leading a process of building healthy structures for the global Vineyard movement. Part of this is to prevent AVC's from inadvertently impacting other nations negatively through their own independent development of processes and systems. This was fascinating to me - and while we were on the zoom call I could see the "structure" image again stretching across a vast field. I shared this picture with the group and told them I had learned vines with this type of structural support can increase their yield up to a 100 times greater than if the vines are left unsupported and run across the ground. John Mumford immediately asked if he could share it with others in the global context as he felt a tremendous resonance with this word.

In early March David and Anita Ruis were in Portugal representing Vineyard Canada at the global gathering of all AVC leaders. True to his word, John Mumford used the grapevine structure word from our February zoom call, pointing out the vines being lifted up and carried across a field by a healthy structure. He explained the increased harvest potential that comes with healthy structure.  When Ruis' got back from Portugal they told our FT about the hard work they were a part of developing shared best practices across 25 nations (15 AVCs)! It seems the Holy Spirit is working throughout the Vineyard Movement globally inviting us to build healthy structure in a variety of contexts. Many leaders are recognizing this is a season for reorg and strategic development. Canada is not alone hearing the Holy Spirit call us to engage in building a robust structure that would lead to abundant fruit bearing across our nation.

One very interesting discovery I came across in my reading about grapevine structures is a lyre trellis system, (like the one pictured above). A lyre trellis is used to train very specific types of vines upward and tends to be used in, "fertile areas that are more productive per acre. Training the canopy in this fashion is used as a defense against mildew by exposing grapes to more wind and sun. Fruit hangs below the trellis protecting it from burning." How amazing to create a structure that would enable the vine itself to become its own protection and health system! And the lyre language blew me away, thinking about both the biblical references to the lyre as an instrument of worship but also finally understanding the original image I had in January - what I thought looked like a harp was actually called a "lyre trellis". It's SO cool how the Holy Spirit speaks!

On March 1st my role pivoted from resourcing (at 12 hours a week) to strategic development four days a week. Literally everything I'm working on now is discerning how to create robust structures for Vineyard Canada that would invigorate healthy abundant growth and fruit bearing. It seems the Holy Spirit has been speaking to encourage us in this initial shift.

Our national team is giving significant input into shaping what our strategic development looks like. To this end we're working on things like church planting incubator development (slow release) which is a new model to help us recover our calling to plant churches as a movement in Canada. We're also in the early stages of strategically exploring what increased integration with Vineyard USA could look like and how we might better mutually strengthen each other. We're examining and reimagining systems and reorg on a long arc trajectory that would enable us to have greater health, including best practices for Vineyard Canada. You might think of this as the most boring job ever, but I am invigorated by the Holy Spirit to follow the thread of what He's been speaking - helping our team dig post holes, run copious amounts of wire, zig zagging back and forth across our movement nationally. All to help us put in place structures that by God's design and direction will keep us engaged in a worshipping posture (the "lyre trellis"), that will protect our church communities, invigorate growth, and enable abundant kingdom fruit bearing. This is the Lord's encouragement to us and I'm confident that when we listen and respond to His voice He leads us into goodness. Let's pray into it, and see where He takes us!