Helping people find the help we can’t give ourselves
We started Brown Line Vineyard to help people have deeper, fuller lives. Our experience has been that the sort of true depth and fullness all people seem to want in life is elusive. We've come to wonder: maybe life is inherently spiritual and we have to continually look outside ourselves to God and to others for help we can't give ourselves.
But talking about God can be hard today - we break up into camps based on religion or culture or class, and we either fight with those not like us or isolate ourselves apart from those not like us.
This is really too bad! Are the greatest stakes of life really just who's in and who's out? Is the only way to grow spiritually to do so in a bubble?
This is why we're so taken with Jesus of Nazareth. By our best read, his whole life and teaching seemed to ask: what if connecting with God led you into a deeper experience of life AND made you a more bridge-building person? To us, that sounds like the best possible way to go about life, especially in a context like multicultural and pluralistic Chicago.
A conversation about faith for our wider culture, not the American Christian sub-culture
Historically of course, it’s been mostly Christians looking to be “Jesus-centered”. We absolutely want to be in the same stream as many of the Christian heroes who have done that so winningly - people like Francis of Assisi or Therese of Lisieux. However, if you've been around any modern day Christian conversations, perhaps you (like us) have recognized they often seem to represent a particular American sub-culture more than a thousands-of-years-old faith tradition. Many Christian conversations today are politically-entangled, anti-LGBTQ, and give off a negative vibe of superiority over and against the rest of the wider culture, especially in the way they read the Bible.
Anyone who spends a little time in our community will see that we’re super enthusiastic about Jesus and the Bible, but this has not led to a spirit of divisiveness or superiority for us at all.
Far from it, our community’s pursuit of God seems to work out well for people from all sorts of cultural/religious backgrounds and lifestyles. What’s our secret? Well, we’re not sure it’s much of a secret. We just try our best not to judge each other or convert each other’s cultures, and we focus instead on what makes anyone care to go to a faith community in the first place: connection with God and connection with other people trying to connect with God.
This, we believe, puts us in line with the historic Christian creeds, like the Nicene Creed (our statement of faith) - what followers of Jesus have all held as their core (despite disagreement about secondary matters) for centuries. If “Christian” just means alignment with the historic creeds, we are unapologetically Christian! However, when it comes to that particular culture and perspective the word “Christian” often refers to today in America, maybe we’re not so Christian.