“How have things been going lately?”
This is probably the most common question I am asked when it comes to New Vintage Church. Actually, skip the probably part. This IS the most commonly asked question I get about New Vintage Church. By far.
I’m not completely sure what the motivation is behind this question. For some reason we have a desire to see how churches ‘are doing’. The more I think about it, the less I understand that question, but I do understand the need to have an answer for that question. It’s important to be able to understand and communicate the health of the church body. I can’t imagine asking a church leader to tell me about their home congregation and getting a silent, or ‘I don’t know’ response. Those responses would communicate volumes.
A while back, one of my mentors said that he finds it easiest to gauge the health of a church by their victory stories. A victory story can tell a lot about the current state of affairs, or at least the perception of the health of a church.
For example, I asked a friend to tell me some victory stories about their church, and he said they finally came to a truce on a relatively minor issue (his words) they had been working through for the past couple of years. This is definitely a victory, but it also says a lot about their church. They’ve been spending their time and resources on an in-house issue for over two years. He was visibly frustrated, and when I asked why, he made it clear that there could have been much better uses of their time, and the ‘issue’ wasn’t really an issue at all.
I asked another friend to tell me some victory stories, and he immediately started talking about a couple of students that had stepped up to lead among the group. Then he talked about their recent mission trip, and went to great detail about the joy that came from serving. He wasn’t bragging, he was simply going through recent events talking about how God had shown up in big ways.
Another friend talked about how God was working in the lives of a couple of his students, and talked about a recent tragedy they were able to overcome. Without going into detail, it was an epic story that had us both in awe of God.
I’ve been thinking a lot about victory stories lately, and these are the action items that come to mind:
I always want to be aware of the story that God is writing in His kingdom.
I want to be able to effectively communicate that story.
I want to actively encourage others to live in that story.
I want to share victory stories.
As for answering the question about New Vintage Church? Here are a few victory stories that I am excited to share:
We recently teamed up with several church and community groups to clean up an elementary school before the students come back. We worked hard, and a lot of people were surprised that a church could do such a great job. It was an awesome to work hand in hand within the community, and I could not have been more excited about the results. Also, we had several families that have only visited a couple of times help out and serve. As far as creating a DNA for a church, I am way stoked.
During a family devotional time, a new student shared that she had never felt so welcomed at a church. Her family’s first visit was the previous Sunday, they showed up to our midweek event, the service project, and then our family dinner the following Sunday. In less than a week she felt ‘at home’.
One of our students is going through a really tough time right now, and they are choosing to respond to this tragedy by stepping up to serve in every way possible. Others are starting to take notice, and have given this student significant public praise for their hard work, which has opened the door for some great talks about faith.
Another student has stepped up to lead worship at our midweek events, and it has made a huge difference in the overall attitude of the night. It’s also an answer to a prayer that I’ve had for a while.
Those are the ones I have on tap for New Vintage Church. Now, I’m excited to hear the victory stories that YOU have to share!
One love, One heart.