Pastor's Corner

Naming Hopes

One of the purposes of this “middle trimester of discernment” was to unearth and voice the various hopes we carry as a community of faith. During this Easter season and the lead-up to Pentecost we’ve been encouraged to name living hopes as well as dead ones, those that are currently in our hearts and those we’ve let die. We felt it important to name the latter because we are “people of the resurrection.” We believe God can put flesh on dry bones and breathe life into those bodies.

The expression of those hopes has taken place during our weekly worship/discernment gatherings, during house church conversations, at the Speckled Bird on Tuesday nights, over dinner tables, and in many smaller impromptu conversations around the neighborhood. Some of these have been recorded, but I suspect most have not, and that what we do have is just the tip of the iceberg. And I suspect that the quieter ones among us, those who feel more inhibited in the sometimes fast-paced and free-flowing conversations and need more time to reflect, might enjoy a forum like this, a less intimidating venue for stating their hopes in writing and for the benefit of others.

So this is simply another collection basket for the naming of hopes.

Here are the 7 Rules of Engagement:

1 State your hope as concisely as possible in the “comment box” below. (Most people don’t have time or energy to read lots of long, long posts.) Ask God to help you discern the primary hope(s) you carry (or carried) and then to express that as clearly and succinctly as possible. (E.g. “I have longed to have a very clear understanding of what it means to be a member of Vineyard Central, to have a written document that names our responsibilities toward God, each other and our neighbors, something that we’re willing to agree to publicly, sign and live into.”)

2 Be specific and concrete, not vague and general. (E.g., “My hope is that we’ll love our neighbors better” is general and vague. It sounds (and is) noble and inspiring, but it also doesn’t give a clear picture of what that means to you. “My hope is that each and every member of Vineyard Central will embrace the practice of inviting a (non-Vineyard Central) neighbor into his/her home on a weekly basis for the purpose of sharing a meal and building a relationship” is specific and concrete.

3 State your hope positively, not negatively. This isn’t a forum (nor should there be any kind of forum) for taking potshots or criticizing. (E.g., “I wish we weren’t so unstructured / unorganized!” or “I wish the ‘leaders’ would do a better job of seeing that the children in our community are cared for!”

4 Ask yourself if you’re willing to contribute to the realization of the hope you name. If you’re not, if you believe it’s the responsibility of others and that your job is just to name what you want in place in order to make your life easier or better, reflect on whether you should post.

5 If you have several different hopes, try to state them so that each can be heard on its own and stand in its own spotlight.

6 Sign your name to your hope. This isn’t anonymous. We should be willing to say who we are. (BTW, “frustrated parent” or “disgruntled member” aren’t good examples of first and last names.)

7 If you’ve already voiced your hope(s) in a different setting, we’d love to have them restated in writing.

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Let the naming begin. Peace to you,
Dave Nixon

10 thoughts on “Naming Hopes

  1. I hope to be a part of a network of House Churhces where healthy “House Church” is the primary focus and expression of the body of Christ in this place.

  2. I hope to one day know and be known by others, without pretense, openly sharing and urging each other to a kind of gritty but honest faith

  3. I hope for a somewhat clear statement of collective purpose, vision, direction…something to help me decide, “Do I belong?” “Can I buy in?” “What is this thing to which I belong anyway?’

  4. I, too, hope for a clear (written) statement of what it means to be a part of Vineyard Central, a statement that names: (1) Christ as the focal point of our faith; (2) our specific commitments to one another and how those are expressed; (3) our commitment to Norwood and the communal practices that support that.

  5. I hope for a regular orientation group for newcomers, one that goes for several weeks, includes a meal, and provides space / opportunity for newbies to learn who we are, what our purpose is, how we do things, and what it would mean for them to join.

  6. I certainly hope we’ll all embrace the practice of actively reaching out to those who live within sight of our doorsteps, but I also hope we can periodically join ALL our hands together to reach out to our neighborhood and beyond, throwing our collective energy and $$ into it.

  7. I hope we’ll make room for linear thinkers, practical-minded and planning types to have a solid voice in our leadership community and greater authority to keep us on task.

  8. I hope that we’ll be better linked (i.e., upwardly linked) to the Association of Vineyard Churches, understanding our history and “playing well” within the movement.

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