Our Story (Mission)
The Greater Boston Vineyard was started in order to help people have better, richer lives—particularly people who haven't previously connected well with churches. The way we describe our mission, in a nutshell, is "to empower impossibly great lives." Our experience, along with our belief, is that the rich, potent life all of us were created to have just isn't possible without a meaningful connection with God. So, with a lot of passion and enthusiasm, we direct all of our efforts towards helping people navigate their way deeper and deeper into that meaningful connection.
What follows is a more-detailed filling out of the brief statement above, full of lots of Bible references and the like. It's a statement about why we think we're here, what we feel we uniquely have to offer in an area that has many other churches. If you're looking for a breakdown about our specific beliefs in God, you'll find it in a statement called "What We Believe."
Our full mission statement:
What would we like to be true of the Greater Boston Vineyard 200 years from now?
This is a bold question! My goodness, if we can just have something good happening here ten years from now, that would be great! And yet the church (meaning all Christian churches) is called by Jesus to endure and thrive until He returns.
So, why does the Greater Boston Vineyard exist? What is our unique purpose and calling in God? As we ponder this question, one of the concepts that we come back to repeatedly is the biblical mandate for the church to represent God and His victory to the world so that people may come to experience the blessings of God in their actual lives.
It's worth pausing for a moment to consider the implications of this. If the day ever comes where we are offering merely theoretical blessings to people, if we limit our calling simply to helping people hold the right beliefs that will get them blessings only in the future, then we believe we have strayed from God's mandate to us. Peoples' lives should be tangibly better as a result of their connection with us, because we believe in a life-changing God, not merely a "true" God (as much as He's certainly that as well).
In this sense, anyone who comes to experience the life of the Kingdom of God in the above manner will have an impossibly great life. Jesus said that He came that we might have "life abundant." The New Testament also makes clear that a great life (life abundant) will look different to each individual, because everyone has different God-given hopes and dreams for their lives, and different gifts from God (Ephesians 2:10). We as a church are looking to unleash each person who comes to us into all the good things that God has for them in the Kingdom of God. This includes the transformation of character as well as destiny-who each person is, and what each person will do.
That said, perhaps we could propose a statement of our purpose.
To empower impossibly great lives
…locally and worldwide
…until Jesus returns
…enjoying our lives as we do it.
"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10b (NRSV)
Early on in the short history of our church, we decided to write down the big, crazy dreams God seemed to be encouraging us towards. Many of these are still well beyond our current reach, while we've made really encouraging progress towards others. Over the years we've also realized that one of these core dreams might well be the biggest of all.
Our Biggest Dream:
- Offering potent spiritual direction as broadly as possible within the wider secular culture
Our Other Big Dreams:
Reaching thousands of people each Sunday over many sites
Providing a warm home both for longtime churchgoers and longtime non-churchgoers
Providing an outstanding, life-giving network of small groups
Becoming a House of Prayer and a center for God's supernatural power
Releasing dozens of new churches or church sites
Effectively promoting justice, compassion, reconciliation, and ethnic diversity
Becoming the best place in Greater Boston to be a kid or to raise a kid
A Word on "Impossibly Great Lives"
You may be wondering about these "impossibly great lives." Can only Christians have great lives? Don't star athletes or multi-millionaires have impossibly great lives? And, face it; do even those most impacted by the ministry of the Greater Boston Vineyard have such lives? Whatever wonderful benefits these people receive from Jesus through the ministry of this church, aren't their lives afflicted by the things all lives are afflicted by? Don't they get cranky or discouraged? Don't they have problems with their kids? Sometimes don't they do things they wish they hadn't? Don't they have rotten days and challenging relationships? Yes, they do. But the best biblical examples of "impossibly great lives" also had serious problems, and yet still had something notably supernatural and wonderful happening in and through them.
Theologians have coined a term called "the now and the not yet." Those people genuinely experiencing God's Kingdom experience tastes of Heaven now. Maybe they see people get healed because they prayed for them, or they experience radical help in some areas of their lives that have made them most miserable. Perhaps, because of their prayers, relationships get restored. These people get focus and purpose for their lives that their friends without Jesus can only dream about. They're given a deep-seated security and hope that would otherwise be absent. This is abundant life, both as Jesus understands it and as our hearts crave it (John 10). And this is why we're not just talking about a great life, but about a kind of great life that would be impossible apart from God's supernatural work.
Now will these people still have real problems and bad days? Yes. That's the "not yet" part of God's Kingdom. No one gets to experience Heaven fully until they get there. But our experience of those real problems and bad days should, nonetheless, be radically shaped and helped by the very real work of the Holy Spirit in the context of the community of Jesus' people. Those of us at the center of this church face the mandate of continual, tangible growth into this impossibly great life, however hard the circumstances God chooses to send us. Our lives should be feeling better and better! Insofar as we get "stuck" in this pursuit and do not devote ourselves to overcoming this barrier, we are grieving God.
Can someone who's not following Jesus as we're describing have a great life? In the sense we're talking about, no. Movie stars or multi-millionaires whose lives are not being transformed by Jesus are settling for far less in their lives than they were created to experience. Apart from this kind of work of Jesus, there is no hope of a life that satisfies us at our deepest levels.
What If We Don't Get All of This?
That's okay! We're told in Hebrews 11 that none of these great men and women profiled there got all of what was promised to them while they were on earth. Yet they are among the greatest biblical pictures of faithful, impossibly great lives. So whether God gives us all of this wonderful vision He's promised or not, we're promised in this same chapter that, if we faithfully pursue it, we'll get glimpses of it and the very real presence of God himself on the journey. To our minds, this is not remotely the same as ambition. These are not the ambitions of the Greater Boston Vineyard. Ambitions of this scope would crush us like a bug! Rather, these are our best sense, at present, of discerning our calling under God. Should He grant these things in any measure, wow! Wonderful! But the nature of a calling is that God encourages us to pursue it. It's up to God to deliver it or not. In this way, by God's mercy, we're freed from drivenness. It's agreed that we cannot make this happen on our own strength! But we believe, as we faithfully give ourselves to this calling, we'll see some wonderful things from God.