Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church Service by Vicki Ross
The Winnipeg Centre Vineyard Church is not like any other church I have ever attended. It felt different, unique, refreshing, even…radical. From the outside you could barely tell that it even is a church- on the outside it looks like a bit of a run-down brick building, located in Winnipeg’s inner-city, right near the train tracks. In fact, if you didn’t see the small, un-imposing sign just above the door that states ‘Welcome to Vineyard’ you would likely think you had the wrong address! But from the moment we entered its doors the church lived up to its sign. You felt welcomed into a community, and I could sense that God was present. From the pictures hanging on the walls, to the smiles of the people who came and spoke to us, to the passion of those leading worship, to the hugs that people would give to each other- like they were greeting family members. It warmed my heart, inspired me…and humbled me.
The mission statement of the church is ‘to build a safe community that invites all people to worship Jesus as they embrace a kingdom lifestyle that extends God’s justice on the earth’. That can be summed up in three key words: Worship, Community and Justice. The location of the church might have something to do with the fact that many of the members are people who we might consider ‘the poor’ or ‘the needy’ (although if we all took a closer look at ourselves I think we could all find ourselves in those two categories). However, I think it is more likely a result of the church’s intentional choice to posture itself in such a way that people feel like they belong, regardless of where they come from or what they have done. We will be meeting up again with the church on Tuesday morning to be part of their outreach ministry, and I’m looking forward to seeing how their values are put into practice in that context too.
I felt the entire church service invited people to enter into God’s presence, and to see His heart and character more clearly, from the choice of songs played to the message that was preached. The message spoke about God as our Father, and identified how He provides us with our true identity, our value, and our sense of approval. One concept that stood out to me (a person who has struggled with perfectionism all her life) was that at the moment of Christ’s baptism, when the Voice came from heaven saying, ‘Here is my Son…with whom I am well pleased’, Christ’s ministry had not yet begun. Jesus had not yet done any miracles, had not yet faced Satan’s temptation in the desert, had not yet been through the crucifixion…and yet God was pleased with him. God approved of Jesus because of his identity as God’s son, just as God approves of us because we are His children. Nothing else is required- we cannot make Him love us any more or less by what we do. And I think that’s pretty cool!