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?

What is God Doing in Europe?

October 26, 2014


We were happy to welcome back the Tendon family.

They have recently returned from a one year term in France, and shared what the Lord is doing in Europe and in their lives.

Please listen to the Tendon’s comments here to be encouraged!

Welcoming the Tendon Family on Sunday, October 26

October 22, 2014



We are happy to welcome back the Tendon family on Sunday, October 26. They have recently returned from a one year term in France, and will be sharing what the Lord is doing in Europe and in their lives.

Doors open at 9:45 AM and we begin singing at 10.

Because we are coordinating a lunch to share, please RSVP either on the Facebook Event Page or by email at:  raytownvineyard@gmail.com.


Webinar Discussion on “Getting Started in House Church”

October 17, 2014

Bill Faris

Bill Faris is a Vineyard pastor, and also an author and speaker.

He recently convened a 1-hour Webinar called Getting Started with House Church.  The webinar included 4 speakers and more than 20  participants from around the US.

Listen to the Webinar here.

View the Powerpoint slides here.

Here is more information on the church that Bill pastors: Vineyard at Home   

Bill has also authored a book called : Homegrown: Our First Steps in Bringing the Church Back Home