Camp Vineyard, our version of Vacation Bible School begins this week. Much work and planning has already gone into preparing for the hundreds of kids that will be arriving for worship, teaching/equipping and a whole lot of fun. Our facility will be buzzing with activity beginning Monday, June 24th through Wednesday, June 26th. A large team of volunteers will lovingly offer time and energy to this great event. Children will receive Christ into their hearts for the first time. They will laugh, run, play and enjoy the blessing of just being a kid as they learn new songs and make new friends. This whole process brings fond memories to my mind.
Growing up on a central Iowa farm was a rich experience. Few people these days have the privilege of growing up on a farm. But our farm wasn’t just any old farm. What made our farm unique was that my grandparent’s house sat not less than 50 yards from our home.
Dad and Grandpa farmed together. It was a partnership. And so it was not unusual for me to see my grandparents. In fact, I saw them every day. Often, I would get up early in the mornings and quietly make my way out of our house and walk over to my grandparents’ home in my bare feet and pajamas where my grandma would make me breakfast. No cold cereal at Grandma’s kitchen. It was bacon, eggs, toast, home squeezed juice and on the really good days, biscuits and gravy.
Nearly every day of my “growing up years”, I saw my Dad and Grandpa out in the barn yard, sorting hogs, feeding cattle, milking cows and always cleaning manure out of our barn. They worked the fields together.
When I turned six years old and had completed my kindergarten year of school, it was time to put up our hay. My Dad brought me out to the hay field for the first time. Dad sat me on our Allis-Chalmers WD 45 tractor, put it in low gear, showed me where to place my hands on the steering wheel, let out the clutch and said, “Just keep it between these rows of hay bales.” I was 10 when my brother took over the tractor driving job and I was promoted to walking alongside the hay rack and lifting bales of hay off the ground and up to my Grandpa who was stacking the bales. I was now working shoulder to shoulder with my Dad and Grandpa. Our farm was truly a multi-generational operation.
This is the way we are to see the church. Our primary mission as a local church is helping the people of this Cedar Valley and adjacent regions find their way into relationship with Jesus Christ. And to do that, we must be passionate about empowering every generation within our church to do the work of the Kingdom. We must be an integrated family, united around the cause of Christ and living out a distinctive value of the Vineyard, “Everybody gets to play.”
Where will our future leaders come from? They are right here, under our noses. They are in our nurseries, our pre-school and grade school classrooms in KidZone. They are in our “Garage” on Sunday mornings and our “One Way Youth Ministry” on Wednesday evenings. No generation is obsolete. Every generation is necessary to fulfilling our mission. We want our kids to know that they have a part in this Kingdom of God operation.
I am quoting Phil Strout, our National Vineyard Director who said, “We are a trans generational movement. Every age is so critical, so crucial. I hope we would have the wisdom to look at the little guys with us and give them deference. We may not exactly know what they may turn out to be, but I guarantee the divine hand is upon them.” Let’s view our children with wisdom.