Fall of Rest–Come and See

August 14, 2015


We live in one of the most frantically charged societies the world has ever seen.  Many live with a “work hard & play hard” mantra. Even our faith walk can become another strained note in a grueling chord of weeks upon weeks piled up.

This Fall, we say “stop”. Let’s take a real time out and explore together what’s on “God’s Heart for Rest”.  What better season than Labor Day Weekend to get started?

We know that practicing Jews living by the letter of the Old Testament Law spent somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of their “working hours” working, and then spent the other half of their time resting, by God’s decree. We don’t attempt to live under that Law–no one actually could.  But we do want to understand the heart of a Loving God who seems to have so much to say about Rest.

We invite you to a “Come and See” event on Sunday, September 6 at 4 PM.  During our time together, we will share a vision for a Fall of Rest which will run for 8 or 9 Sundays through September and October.   We will also be sharing a Pot Luck Dinner together immediately following.  There is absolutely no obligation associated with coming on September 6.

Just so there is no surprise, this Fall of Rest is part of the Raytown Vineyard Church’s primary weekly gathering.  However, you are more than welcome to join us for this Season whether you are currently looking for a church home or not.  You may be a member or regular attender at another church other times during the week, or you may be completely uninvolved and uninterested in a formal relationship with a church. If you feel led to join us in the Fall of Rest, we will leave it to you and God to figure out the particulars.

WHO: Anyone looking for God’s Rest.

WHEN: Sunday, September 6 @ 4 PM. Worship & discussion followed by Potluck Dinner.

WHAT: A “Come and See” Event to learn more about a 8-9 week Season of Rest.

HOW: We will ask the Holy Spirit to reveal God’s Heart to us individually through the week, and as we gather together, we will share what we have heard.

Questions, Comments, or Concerns? Let us know here:

God’s Plan for Motherhood

May 10, 2015


If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God’s demonstrates His character and nature through His plan for motherhood.
  2. God ’s plan for motherhood is built around Godly mothers.
  3. Godly motherhood is built around Godly families.
  4. God heals in community—including mother wounds.
  5. God is committed to motherhood.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the Word:

Who is God?

How does God see me?

How can I pursue Him?

National Day of Prayer, 2015 (A Guilt-Free Message on Prayer)

May 3, 2015


Thursday, May 7 will be the “National Day of Prayer”.

This week, we took a look at John 17:20-26 and shared a message on the National Day of Prayer, 2015.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God is UNITY.
  2. God demonstrates our identity to the World through Unity.
  3. God hears Jesus’s prayer for togetherness.
  4. God invites us to pray in Jesus’s name.
  5. God is sending a fresh wave of prayer to the USA.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the Word:

Who is God?

How does God see me?

How can I pursue God?

National Day of Repentance, 2015

April 26, 2015


Thursday, April 30 will been declared the “National Day of Repentance”.  This will be the 152nd Anniversary of the National Day of Humiliation, Prayer, and Fasting called by President Abraham Lincoln.

This week, we took a look at 2 Chronicles 7 and shared a message on National Day of Repentance, 2015.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God is complete without us.
  2. God wants us to live in the joy of his unhurried togetherness
  3. God forgives us when we confess our sin to Him. God heals us when we confess our sin to another. God rewires our minds when we repent.
  4. Godly repentance doesn’t come from guilt, but from Godly sorrow over lost opportunity for togetherness.
  5. God is sending a fresh wave of repentance to the USA.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the Word:

Who is God?

How does God see me?

How can I pursue God?

God’s Earth Day

April 19, 2015


This week, we took a look at Genesis 1 and shared a message on God’s Earth Day.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God’s created the Earth by His word, and it was good.
  2. God retained ownership of the Earth, and gave man responsibility to manage it.
  3. God will call man to account for how we used each resource he handed to us to manage.
  4. God hears the groaning of the Earth waiting for its redemption.
  5. God has a plan for the future of the Earth under Jesus’s leadership.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the Word:

Who is God?

How does God see me?

How can I please Him?

God’s Plan for Addicts

April 12, 2015


Today Mark French brought a message about God’s Plan for addicts.  Based on his history of seeing hundreds of people through Celebrate Recovery, Mark shared many helpful insights.  We encourage you to listen here.

One of the many highlights Mark shared included this passage, from Isaiah 61:1-4:

The Year of the Lord‘s Favor

61 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord‘s favor,
    and the day of vengeance of our God;
    to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
    to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
    the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
    the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
    they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
    the devastations of many generations.

God’s Presence Changes Us

March 22, 2015


This week, we took a look at Mark 5:21-43 and shared a message on how God’s Presence changes us.

If you would like to listen to the message, just click here.

Here are the main thoughts we explored together:

  1. God changes us when we are near Him.
  2. God turns when we push through to Him.
  3. God is unconcerned by appearances.
  4. God isn’t motivated by fear.
  5. God moves the pieces around.

Here are some questions to ask as we are reading and meditating on the word:

Who is God?

How does God see you?

How can you please Him?

God Frees the Broken

February 15, 2015


This morning we shared a discussion based on Mark 5:1-20   Feel free to listen here. And follow along with the notes below:

God sees the torment of the broken.

You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle.–Psalm 56:8 English Standard Version (ESV)

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17 English Standard Version (ESV)

God doesn’t condemn the broken.

There is a difference between conviction and condemnation.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’  But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God,be merciful to me, a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14 English Standard Version (ESV)

God recognizes that sometimes freedom is not possible without a miracle.

Why do people not seek healing?

There is a constant tension between the flesh and the spirit. (Romans 7)

 A God encounter will always change you.

The man wants to go with Jesus.

Jesus sends the man back to the City.

This encounter is Jesus only ministry trip to this area.

God’s love always flows to the lowest and the farthest.

And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:15-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

Is this what Simple Church looks like? 2nd Edition…

November 16, 2014


Worship in the “Living Room”

As we do each Sunday, we gather to worship in the Living Room at 10 AM.  This week, we are singing:  Pour My Love on You, Give it All, When You Walk into the Room, and I Love You Lord

Some sit, some stand, some play instruments, and some sing.  Worship is defined by our heart posture.  Nothing more, and nothing less.  There are no “junior members” of our church.

After worship, we ask for an update from our Congregational Sharing and Prayer Time last week.  God has answered our prayer.  There is growth we can see!  We invite others to share about how God has been working this week.

We talk about hip surgeries and losing loose teeth.  About job opportunities and a 9-year old’s prayer in faith that medicine go down easier with Cherry Kool Aid. Our God hears every prayer.  Our God answers every prayer.  There are no “junior members” of our church.

Communion is served by the 3 kids in worship today.  One boy and two girls.  One white and two African Americans.  There are no “junior members” of our church.

During announcements, we point to the basket for offerings.  After the service, there are 4 envelopes in the basket—two are from kids, and two are from adults.  There are no “junior members” of our church.

The Teaching Notes

This week, Donna will be leading the discussion on Mark 2:13-22.  Participating in this group today:

  • 2 ordained pastors,
  • 1 lay pastor,
  • 1 ex-Sunday School Teacher
  • and a Teenager.

Although Donna may have less “Bible knowledge” than other experts in the circle, she loves God and she is hungry for the Bible.  Donna has a template that allows her to lead this diverse group effectively.  Its an inductive study method, and the top of the page looks like this:

Who is Jesus

As we are studying Mark 2:13-22 today, the rows continue down the page, from 16, 17, etc., all the way to 22.

Having a Conversation about the Bible

For starters, we read through the passage of the day together.  Today she has us go in a circle, each person reading one verse from beginning to end.  Then she asks each person to pause on verse 13, and write down any question that we have about that verse that we DON’T know the answer to.  Donna then asks us to share our questions, which leads to a great discussion.

Every single person in the room has questions that we don’t know the answer to—including teenagers and professional pastors with doctorates in ministry.  We are all on a level playing field.  We are all starving souls in search of spiritual food.   There are no “junior members” of our church.

We continue this process, one verse at a time, pausing to discuss and explore previously unfound facets of the light of scripture.  We are all “pupils”.  We are all on pilgrimage together.

Our facilitator for the day has chosen to take one of the word from the passage (wedding) and print off what it says in Strong’s Concordance to share with the group.  She shares a few application points that she has learned. There are no “junior members” of our church.

Next, Donna asks us to go to the top of the 2nd column of our worksheets.  She asks us to identify 1 attribute about Jesus that this verse reveals.  And if there simply isn’t one there, she asks us to default to this question: “what does this verse teach us about God’s character”?  Each participant contributes something meaningful, from High School student to lifelong theological student. There are no “junior members” of our church.

Sharing a Meal

Donna asks someone to pray over our group and the meal and we share lunch.  The pre-teen kids come up from downstairs and mingle with the adults as we share lunch together.  When we share a meal together, intermingled like this, we share life as fellow people, and our hearts are mysteriously brought together by sharing conversation over food.  There are no “junior members” of our church.

We ask someone else to facilitate the discussion next week.  Someone who hasn’t led a Sunday School or a Bible Study in many many years….maybe even never!  “I am not sure I am ready for that.”  “Ok—maybe in a few weeks”.  “On second thought, I can do this.  I can facilitate the group next week”.  Yes, she can!  There are no “junior members” of our church. 

Good Byes

Most people are gone by 1 PM…but we have never “kicked out” anyone.  We leave and go about the rest of our Sundays…on the way out, many hugs and “keep in touch”.

Is this a “successful” Sunday morning church service in a Simple Church?

Is this what Simple Church looks like?

November 9, 2014


Getting to Church

This morning begins like any other Sunday Morning at our Home Church. Immediately after breakfast at 8, the host family turns into a Prep Team to turn our Living Room into a Church Sanctuary—Dad, Mom, 9-year old, and 8-year old.  We move the tables, sofas, chairs, and coffee table.  We vacuum and dust.  We turn on all the lights, and open the shades.  Mom finishes preparing the Baked Ziti, kids prepare their offerings, we print out song sheets (20 today—we always want “more than enough”) and stuff them with offering envelopes and prayer request cards.

Mom starts playing through the worship for the morning, filling the Home Church with praise, while the rest of the family continues getting themselves ready for the guests.

The Church Family starts arriving about 9:45—church starts at 10 AM.  Oftentimes, the kids are the designated “greeters”—welcoming everyone from their post on the front porch.  Some enter through the front door, and others through the back.  This particular morning, the congregation includes ages 70’s, 60’s, 40’s, 30’s, Teens, and Pre-teens.  We are African American, Latino, and White.

Coming Together in Crisis

This morning, as we are in worship, I receive a text from a church member:  “My family is real crisis this morning. It’s been going on for a while and I haven’t asked for prayer or said anything, but today I really need a spiritual intervention. I want to come to church, but I don’t know. There is a real stronghold on our family right now. We may or may not be there. Please pray.” 

The family in crisis arrives during worship.  They are at a point of tears, and while one member is quietly praying for them, I verify that it is “OK” for them to share their burden today with our church.  After worship, I introduce the idea that part of our role as the Body of Christ is to “rejoice with those who rejoice” and “grieve with those who grieve”.  We invite people to share ways God had shown His goodness since we last met.  About ½ of the adults bring paragraph testimonies for a total of about 10 minutes.

Our three 9-year old girls serve Communion.  One is African American, one is a Single Child of a Single Mom, and one is part of a “blended family”.  Everybody takes the few steps to come forward and receive.  Young rowdy kids and grandmas with canes.  Multi cultural, multi generational, multi ethnic.  The Body of Christ.

During announcements, we point to the basket for offerings, then we pray for the preteen kids and release them to their Sunday School.  Adults stand up, grab a cup of coffee, and move the chairs into a circle.

A Change of Plans

Rather than continuing directly into our scheduled Bible Study on “Who is Jesus” based on Mark 2, we feel God is asking the Body of Christ to be a true family, to come around the struggling, and offer “listening ministry”.  The text’s author confesses that she was feeling like an “awful Mom”, and had a serious argument with her teenage daughter this morning.  But this is just the “tip of the iceberg”—she feels like a failure all the time.

As a group, we ask her teenage daughter, who is sitting on the same couch, to tell us how she is feeling.  She cries out she feels “unimportant and ignored all the time”…that nobody can hear her, and that she feels all alone.  Many in the room react with understanding to those feelings.

Bearing one another’s Burdens

We continue a discussion with both, sharing ideas and asking for feedback to make sure we are “hearing correctly” and not going in a tangent.  After about 15 minutes, it becomes clear to both Mom and Daughter that they are in a place of continuing to believe lies about themselves…they are NOT actually “awful Mom”, “unimportant”, etc.

One of the group sits up and said “it sounds like you are being abused…you are abusing yourself”.  When Mom agrees with that statement, someone says “would you like to forgive yourself”?  We guide Mom through the process of forgiving herself, asking God for forgiveness for believing the lies, and declaring God’s truth about her.

As we finish helping her pray through this, we remind Mom that the lies will come back as soon as she leaves the front door, but she has the choice to reject the lies, and be quick to forgive herself when she fails again, asking for God’s forgiveness too.

Sharing A Meal

We invite someone to pray over our group and the meal, and we share lunch!  We go through the lunch line and find a place to sit at the dining room table or in the living room (adjoining).  Kids and adults mingle over lunch, then kids go play downstairs until parents are ready to leave.

Each week, we share whatever people bring.  This week, its Baked Ziti, Tortilla casserole, salad, chips and salsa, hot dogs (for the kids) .

God’s Unplanned Plan for Kids Ministry

Ironically, at the VERY SAME TIME, God was dealing with our kids downstairs with the VERY SAME MESSAGE!  A 6 year old boy said “I feel like my older sister hates me”.  As a group, the teacher gathered up the kids, skipped the planned lesson, and invited the group to share about how to go through the forgiveness that leads to freedom, and  how to replace lies with the truth.

As we compared notes over lunch, we were SO AMAZED that God had our WHOLE church doing the same lesson today, as a group. Although we had plans to do something else, we strive to really listen to what the Holy Spirit wants to do, and we have space and grace to go with that.

Good Byes

Next week, we will come back to the planned lessons.  We were ready this week, and we will be ready next week.  Wait, because of the way we gathered around family in crisis, hopefully we will be even MORE ready to share the planned Bible readings next week….

Most people are gone by 1 PM…but we have never “kicked out” anyone.  We leave and go about the rest of our Sundays…on the way out, many hugs and “keep in touch”.

Is this a “successful” Sunday morning church service in a Simple Church?