The Near West Vineyard is about connecting: connecting with Jesus, connecting with each other and connecting with the world.
There is a lot that is mystical about God. If God is infinite and surpasses our understanding, then the pursuit of knowing God and the experiences we have along the way should be awe-inspiring and filled with wonder. Jesus’ life and the things that are recorded about him reflect this same line of thinking; he is mystical and does things that are filled with wonder.
This is also true, or should be true, of the people who follow Jesus. The people of the Near West Vineyard seek to connect with people, connect with Jesus, and connect with a world in a way that includes fresh experiences with a communicative God that make a difference in the world around us; this is a God who connects with us and guides us in how we live. This is a God who knows what is best for us and brings us the greatest pleasure we can experience. If God created us, then God knows how we work, what makes us tick, and what will bring true happiness to our lives.
As I reflect on what got my wife and I here on the Near West side of Chicago, there are many experiences that I can look back on as both mystical and filled with wonder yet wrapped up in the every day, the mundane of life. These experiences are like the raspberry filling in a jelly donut or the creme in a Twinkie (pretend those are both appetizing.)
I remember having a conversation with my wife on Main St. in a town called Normal outside an ice cream shop. Life was going really well. It was a conversation I wasn’t looking forward to since we had it before and it didn’t go well the first time. It was regarding a move to Chicago and the pursuit of more schooling. I was compelled to bring it up because I felt like it was something this communicative God was speaking to me. To my astonishment, God had been communicating the same thing to my wife. A few months later we were in Ukrainian Village in Chicago.
Years later, I remember praying on Chicago Ave. and Leavitt at our place there. After praying I felt pressed to ask my wife, “What do you think about [starting up a church] around UIC?” God had placed a seed in our hearts. It was something that would be fulfilled years later. It was something that wasn’t necessarily logical for our circumstances. People don’t typically get a Masters’ degree in anything to put themselves in a situation where the Masters degree wouldn’t do one of the things it was intended to do (i.e. land a job that could support a family.) But this is the exciting, adventurous, and sometimes unnerving life of someone who believes God communicates with us today.
I could go on, but it suffices to say that there are more of these stories and that the benefits of responding to God have outweighed the drawbacks to and the temporary instability it may have caused. Even more, this is true of others who can echo similar stories personal to them. In the end, the stability in a God who knows what is best for us and can see it done is much better than the temporary instability of living a life trusting God. Living this life has provided necessary direction.
For those who are curious, I invite you to dabble or dive into this experiment of an experience. For those who have experienced it, I ask you to continue to take the daily plunges as you trust God with daily decisions. For all of you, I welcome and invite you to do this with us as we, together, connect with people, connect with Jesus, and connect with the world for a real difference. -Rick Kuhr, Pastor
What are the Core Values of Vineyard Churches?
- The Theology and Practice of the Kingdom of God
- Experiencing God
- Reconciling Community
- Compassionate Ministry
- Culturally Relevant Mission
What are the Priorities of the Near West Vineyard Church?
- Kingdom Theology
- Ministry of the Holy Spirit
- Mercy & Compassion
- Missions/Church Planting