There are countless churches in urban areas like Chicago’s Northside (many of which would describe their goals in a similar sounding way to us). So why does Brown Line Vineyard exist, or even need to exist?
We love a lot of those other churches -- we’ve met many of their pastors and congregants, and we think they’re great! That said, we also think there is a significant swath of wonderful people who may not be able to feel at home in those churches, but who may feel at home with us.
This is not because those churches are lousy and BLV is excellent. (The reverse is more likely true!) It’s simply because churches (like any group of people) each have their own culture. Most churches develop their culture around churchgoers. And rightly so; churchgoers are the people who... well... faithfully go to church!
But BLV is made up of people from pretty diverse backgrounds in terms of churchgoing experience (or lack thereof), so our inclination is toward our world’s wider conversations. The sorts of deep things we talk about at our Sunday services or at our weeknight groups or in groups of two or three over dinner or drinks are things we’ve experienced all sorts of people, not just longtime churchgoers, to find engaging, important, and helpful.
Our take is that no matter who we are or where we’re coming from, trying to connect with Jesus and point ourselves his way offers a ton to the pursuit of a deep, full life -- in ways that seem pretty uniquely wonderful and helpful to us!
1. Welcoming people of all backgrounds, cultures, and experiences (especially people who previously haven’t synced up well, or at all, with churches).
2. Hosting people in spaces that are peaceful, communal, transformational, comprehensible to anyone, and enjoyable.
3. Pastoring people forward in their own unique, lifelong journeys of personal growth and into participation in Jesus’ bigger-than-any-one-of-us “Kingdom of God” purpose.
4. Neighboring -- That is loving and blessing our neighbors (nearby and around the globe), especially the poor and those on the margins of society.
5. Humility -- This is our overarching value. How do we know if we’re pointed Jesus’ direction or moving forward in our purpose and vision? It’s not heroic displays or impressive feats that we look for as indicators. It’s vulnerability, honesty, and the willingness to ask for and receive from God the help we can’t give to ourselves.
Maybe the biggest lesson we've learned is that movement has to be worked out moment to moment, case by case. We take the task of helping people do that really seriously. To us, this is what life is all about! But we try not to take ourselves too seriously in that process. We’re not geniuses. We’re not perfect. We want to do the best we possibly can, but always with a healthy sense of humor and humility.
As a way to insure we do this, we make all of our church’s financial activity totally transparent. Feel free to email email@example.com for a look at our full chart of accounts. It’s actually readable! Because we want you to know that every dollar of donations we receive will only ever be spent in pursuit of one of these values.
(banner image from Andrew Seaman)