People ask me, “What do you do for fun?”  My response, “I play with my grandkids.”  Our youngest grandchild, Mia, is 20 months old. She is gaining a richer vocabulary and her personality is developing beautifully. She is a real character and loves to play rough with Grandpa. A few days ago, Roi Lene and I had Mia and her sister Claire at our home. Both girls were playing outside when suddenly Mia began to cry. It was one of those “I’m hurt” cries and Grandpa came rushing to the rescue. Because Mia is limited in her ability to verbally communicate, it took a few minutes to determine what had happened. Finally, I figured out she had a tiny sliver lodged in her pinky finger.

My first attempt to cure the problem was to bare my teeth to pull out the sliver the old fashioned way. The sliver and the finger were just too small. Mia would have allowed me to pull it out with my teeth because to her, it looked like I was kissing the injured finger.

Next, I took her in the house and I found a pair of tweezers and a sterilized needle. No go!  Mia was now getting more dramatic. I was ready to call the paramedics. Finally, I told her that if she would hold still, I would make it all better and we would put a Barney band-aid on her finger and have some ice cream. Bribery, sometimes a necessary evil.

That seemed to close the deal. In just a moment, Mia was rid of one sliver and we were looking for the Barney band-aids and asking Grandma to dip up the ice cream. She was very proud of her battle injury and now Claire wanted a band-aid as well. You gotta love grandkids. These kids know that they are connected to a family that loves them and that they will always receive care when necessary.

It is no surprise that the most healthy, happy and fruitful Christians are those who are well connected to the local church and well cared for by the church’s leadership. They become people who are most willing to contribute their gifting and resources to realize the expansion of God’s Kingdom.

It is also no surprise that some of the most gifted “pastoral leaders” are not the paid staff but gifted lay people. We are blessed to have hired staff that has given their lives to strengthen the church. But their job is not to “do” ministry as much as to help “equip” others to do ministry. (Ephesians 4:11-13)  Many of you here at the Heartland Vineyard are greatly gifted in pastoral ministry. You have a deep love and empathy for people. You desire to nurture and care for the needs of others. You want to encourage spiritual formation and help people navigate difficulty in life with the help of the Holy Spirit. We need your help!

This is part of the vision I have for our church. People connected to our church through relationships and experiencing the loving care the church offers through mature, nurturing and caring people. People who are connected and cared for by their church tend to become devoted disciple of Jesus.

This coming fall, you will see more groups launched to compliment the groups that already exist. Some groups will be focused on specific studies, the discussion of the previous Sunday’s sermons or working through a book in the Bible. Some groups will be recreational in nature, centering on common interests such as guitar playing, bike riding and prayer walking. Some of these groups will run week in and week out while others will have a lifespan of 8 to 12 weeks. Some groups will meet in homes while others meeting at our Worship Center. The common denominator in all of these groups will be the living out of our five values of grace filled obedience to the Word of God, hands on ministry, compassionate outreach, enthusiastic worship of God and the enabling power of community life. We want to help people become connected to others who want to live for Jesus and enjoy life to the fullest.

Throughout the summer, many of you will be asked to exercise your gifting and help care for the people who attend the Heartland Vineyard Church. We want to expand our leadership base. If you are asked to help nurture a few families in our church or maybe lead a Small Group if for only 8 weeks, I want to encourage you. . . “Just say YES.”

If in the fall you are invited to be a part of a new or existing Small Group in our church where new friendships will be made and life exchanged, I want to encourage you. . . “Just say Yes”.

We are in a new season. Life is springing up all around us. New opportunities are being offered. There is only one response God is asking us to make. “Just say Yes!”